United Way recognizes Microsoft for community impact and commitment

United Way has recognized Redmond-based Microsoft Corp. with a Summit award for community impact.

The Spirit of America and Summit Awards program, celebrating its 25th year, is United Way's highest national honor for corporations, recognizing United Way Global Corporate Leaders with the most comprehensive commitments to strengthening communities. Applicants are evaluated by corporate peers and local United Ways.

Microsoft and its employees donated $100.5 million to nonprofits and educational institutions in 2011 as well as $844 million in software to more than 40,000 global nonprofits, including United Ways.

"Microsoft is unquestionably among the world's leaders when it comes to innovative corporate citizenship," said United Way Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Gallagher in a press release. "We're proud of the long history we share together and Microsoft's continued commitment to investing in education and communities."

To help young people bridge the opportunity divide and gain the access, skills and opportunities needed for success, Microsoft provides a host of creative partnerships and programs. In addition, the tech company supports employees' volunteer hours with a $17 per hour match. Employees recorded more than 426,000 hours -- a 28 percent increase from 2010 – unleashing an additional $7.2 million in matching funds for U.S. nonprofits.

"Microsoft is focusing its citizenship work on creating opportunities for youth through technology, training and experiences that empower them to imagine and realize their full potential. By helping youth capture opportunities for education and employment, we are helping them create their futures and helping them create real impact for a better tomorrow," said Microsoft general manager of Citizenship and Public Affairs Lori Harnick. "No single company, organization or government can close the opportunity divide on their own. At Microsoft, we believe it's imperative to work together with partners such as United Way to address these issues."

Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith helped raise $111 million, with $25 million to expand United Way of King County's Parent-Child Home Program, including a $1 million grant from Microsoft. In keeping with the company's focus on youth, this program provides trained, certified home visitors and early literacy resources for low-income families to help children and families prepare for kindergarten.

Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft's senior director of Global Community Affairs, also serves as a director for United Way of King County.

Microsoft recently unveiled another creative way to help communities by leveraging the Microsoft Stores across the country. The stores work with United Way to help raise awareness in a number of ways. For example, the Microsoft Store at University Village in Seattle gave away a Xbox 360 4G Kinect Bundle to customers who donated food during Hunger Action Week and local organizations can use the space to hold meetings, host in-store events or learn new technology skills through personalized training sessions.

Microsoft also raised more than $90,000 for United Way in 2011 by selling a photo book created by Microsoft employees.

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