Celebrating the Sixth New England GiveCamp


The sixth New England GiveCamp was held on the weekend of Nov 6-8th at BlueMetal Architects in Watertown Square. Microsoft New England is a founding sponsor of this annual event which brings together area non-profit organizations with volunteer developers, designers, and program managers to work on a variety of assets empowering the charities to better serve their constituents. The 2015 edition included 13 New England organizations, among them the Science Club for Girls from Cambridge; the J. W. Foley Legacy Foundation of Rochester, New Hampshire, and Vital Pathways from Houlton, Maine. One of the projects, Books and Balloons, was conceived and executed by a team ranging in age from 10 to 16!

Volunteer-wise, technologists and designers traveled from five states and as much as 200 miles away to spend day (and night) assisting in a variety of tasks including website development, database integration, and logo and newsletter design. About a third of the participants – both volunteers and non-profit representatives – bunked for both nights at the event, as evidenced by a number of tents sprinkled throughout the venue! While on-site, participants are provided meals, snacks, and amply caffeinated beverages solely through the financial and in-kind donations of its sponsors.

As relayed by co-founder Kelley Muir in her TEDx talk from the Spring of 2015, New England GiveCamp has mobilized over 500 volunteers to provide an estimated $750,000 in services to over 100 non-profit organizations in the greater New England area. The organizational committee is in the initial planning stages for the 2016 New England GiveCamp and invites the community to follow its progress at on Twitter, and via e-mail at We especially encourage non-profit organizations and their volunteers to seek us out for potential attendance at next year’s event.

Microsoft’s Day of Caring to support the Northeast Give Campaign


Microsoft New England held its annual Day of Caring on Monday, November 16 to support our Give Campaign that runs each fall. 50 Microsoft employees participated in this event, reading to 6-11 year old children that attend 1st-5th grade at the King Open School in Cambridge. Before the event, Principal Darrell Williams explained to employees the importance of mentoring and literacy skills to underserved urban elementary school students.

Microsoft partnered with READ TO A CHILD to organize this special event. READ TO A CHLD is a national non-profit that inspires adults to regularly read aloud to underserved children in order to improve a child’s success in school and life. Microsoft employees read age appropriate books to groups of five elementary students as well as explained what they did at Microsoft and answered work-related questions. As READ TO A CHILD explains, having a caring adult spend time with young students provides benefits to youth self-esteem and self-confidence. Being read aloud to improves literacy skills and develops a love of reading. Students also benefit from hearing what Microsoft employees do for work, enabling them to envision careers in the technology field.

Microsoft Top Picks: 9 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Events 11-16 (2)

With only a week before the holiday season kicks off in full speed, we’re keeping on track with the top events in our community. Here are our top picks for events you don’t want to miss this week:

14447448731) UX Fair — a World Usability Day Event
Monday, November 16, 2pm — 6:30pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @uxpaboston

Welcome to the second annual UX Fair, an afternoon jam-packed with UX goodness.

This event is targeted at students, career changers, job seekers, recruiters, potential employers, and anyone who works or wants to work with UX professionals, including project managers, developers, marketers, and tech or design managers.

1f8QiNbN_400x4002) Interaction Design Foundation Boston/Wakefield Mash-Up Monthly
Tuesday, November 17, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @interacting

The Interaction Design Foundation – the IDF – is a ten year old transformative non-profit enterprise focused on educating, informing and stimulating the global design community. IDF -Boston and IDF-Wakefieild are local chapters that get together on a monthly basis focusing on providing providing stimulating  but fun discussions, insightful information, and face-to-face networking opportunities.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.56.58 PM3) Boston Python November Presentation Night
Tuesday, November 17, 6:30pm — 9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @bostonpython

Boston Python presentation nights are a chance for Python developers to explore new topics in depth. Members or outside experts prepare presentations at a variety of levels, on any number of Python-related topics. By giving Python developers a chance to expand and hone their skills, Boston Python is enriching and strengthening the Python community.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.55.21 PM4) Light The Night Awards Party
Wednesday, November 18, 6pm — 8pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @MALightTheNight

The Light The Night Awards party is a chance for the event’s top fundraisers, sponsors, LLS-funded researchers, cancer specialists, cancer survivors and others affected by blood cancers to come together to celebrate on their accomplishments.  It’s an evening reception (business casual) that is followed with a short program that has both mission and executive speakers and uses the techonological capabilities of the room to recap the season.   It’s additionally one of the ways we, at LLS, can say thank you for everyone’s hard work on this years walk, which is estimated to raise $1.2M to put toward our mission of new cures and treatments for blood cancers and aid to patients and their families.

roxbury-inno5) Learn Lab Workshops: Website Design
Friday, November 20, 2pm — 3pm
Roxbury Innovation Center | 2300 Washington Street, 2nd Floor | Boston
Twitter: @RoxburyInno

Crash course demonstration specifically targeted for small businesses. Introduction to web design methods.

The Learn Lab Workshops are a partnership between the Venture Café Foundation and Microsoft This series of workshops at the Roxbury Innovation Center are designed to help innovators develop technology skills to achieve their goals. Workshops will span a wide range of topics from how to build apps to email productivity, from spreadsheet and presentation skills to special tools for learning in the classroom

MES15 logo6) Media Education Summit 2015
Friday, November 20 — Sunday, November 21
Emerson College | 180 Tremont St | Boston
Twitter: @CEMPBU | 

The 8th Media Education Summit brings together a global network of media educators, scholars and researchers to share research, pedagogy and innovation on all aspects of media education and media in education.

14461145697) Boston Code Camp 24
Saturday, November 21, 8am — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @BostonCodeCamp

Code Camp is a one day mini-conference. Code Camp brings regional computing professionals together for the opportunity to immerse themselves in seminars, presentations, group exploration, and networking. Participants will be able to engage in their preferred technology, as well as to sample other options, with a focus on extending information exchange and enhancing the cross pollination of ideas.

9b0c04762bda29bbd2ef09a49e7c4cf1_400x4008) #HackWinter 2015
Saturday, November 21, 10am — 5pm
Microsoft New England | 255 Main Street | Cambridge
Twitter: @CodeForBoston

#HackWinter 2015 is a three-and-a-half week app challenge focusing on winter-specific apps that can help our community in the focus areas of Transit, Infrastructure, and Community. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reaching out to Public Works Departments in the Greater Boston Area as well as community groups, public health agencies, and more to serve as problem owners for the challenge.

1f1c59e8dff3a38b306745d8fc652b70_400x4009) America SCORES Boston Poets’ Banquet
Saturday, November 21, 3pm — 6pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @SCORESBoston

America SCORES Boston is a non-profit organization that serves over 1400 Boston Public School students by providing soccer and literacy based programming to students grades 3-8 in an afterschool setting through poetry and service learning workshops and organized soccer.

Elementary poetry teachers nominate a boy and girl from their school to audition for the America SCORES National Poetry Slam.  The Poet’s Banquet is a celebration of their hard work and also an opportunity for every nominee (28) to audition in front of their friends, family, board members, and fellow nominees.  At  the end of the Banquet one boy and one girl will be chosen to represent Boston at the National Poetry Slam with an all expense paid trip to New York City.


Honoring Veterans Every Day

Every November, we pause for a day to honor our veterans who have served overseas and returned home to us. After a day filled with parades, ceremonies, and banquets, it can be hard to remember that our veterans need support year-round. From returning to the civilian workforce to receiving proper healthcare to simply finding a home, we can work around the clock to give back to our veterans who have served so bravely for our freedoms.

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to community, we take the time to serve our veterans the way they served for us. After months to years of service, these veterans must take on the jarring task of returning immediately to civilian life — and that’s where we can help.

This year, we were proud to sponsor Team Red White & Blue in their second annual Old Glory Relay, a two-month, 3,540-mile journey across the continental U.S to shine a light on our nation’s veterans:

And every year, we help open doors for our service members by providing training and career opportunities in the tech industry. After all, a veteran’s spirit lies within innovation and entrepreneurship. This year, we’re excited to announce an expansion to our Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) from three regions to nine, bringing our coverage to a total of 12 bases nationwide. Read more here.

MSSA-Infographic_Web_102815 (1)

And our work has just begun. This Veterans Day, we encourage you to honor our service members and challenge you to keep them in mind year-round.

Fostering Innovation at the Roxbury Innovation Center


The Roxbury Innovation Center (RIC) is teeming with success. Not only have two community sessions been successfully implemented by Microsoft’s own Eliza Mulcahy, but the sessions have also been free and open to the entire community. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, we’re specifically excited that the RIC strives to foster innovation.

The Greater Boston community can only grow and serve constituents in a savvy manner if citizens have the ability to create new ventures. However, venture creation requires some pre-requisites: you need to know how to successfully run a business before you can start one. Likewise, you need to know the software you’ll be using to manage your venture, before your start-up can compete for a spot in an accelerator like MassChallenge! That’s where our RIC sessions come into the equation. The Microsoft New England team wanted to offer free sessions to the community to provide the 311 about successfully starting a start-up. While our sessions do vary in nature, each session seeks to impart a bit of innovation “wisdom” on participations.

The first of the sessions that Microsoft sponsored at RIC detailed the nuances of Excel: charts, graphs and excel sheets were thoroughly explained. Excel is a necessary skill in the world of business, start-ups and innovation, as it allows aspiring entrepreneurs to catalogue their thoughts in a cohesive manner. Each participant was given a Surface to follow along as a live demonstration illustrated all of the functions Excel can preform.

The most recent session Microsoft New England sponsored was a “breakfast” for small business owners during which Eliza explained the new Windows 10 software. Windows 10 provides users with sleek updates that assist with word processing and alleviate writing woes. Again, all participants were invited to see a live demonstration of the software.

We have two more sessions coming up in the near future, so be sure to attend!

  1. Website Design on 11/20
    Crash course demonstration specifically targeted for small businesses. Introduction to web design methods.
  2. Build Your First App on 12/7
    We all use apps every day, but have you ever thought, “I wish there was an app for that!?!” Now you can learn to build your very own app using Touchdevelop.

Recap: Boston’s City to City Delegation Heads to Seattle

Photo: Mimi Wishner Segel, NECN

I had the pleasure of joining Boston’s City to City delegation on its recent trip to Seattle, a city I called home for more than 13 years. Headed by Mayor Marty Walsh, our delegation included a broad cross-section of Boston leaders, from government agencies to non-profits to educators to the business community. We learned a lot about what makes Seattle a unique place, but more importantly, we learned a lot about the creative approaches Seattle is taking to our common problems and opportunities.

In the 11 years since I’ve been back in Boston, Seattle has undergone remarkable changes. Like Boston, its tech economy is booming and, as a result, its population is, too. In fact, Seattle is growing at a faster rate than any large city in the US. Like Boston, Seattle faces the many challenges that come with rapid growth: pressure on transportation systems, lack of affordable housing, and rising inequality. Our delegation had the chance to see how this city is working to meet these challenges and the special initiatives it is taking to ensure a vibrant culture.

Highlights of the trip included:

  • Learning about Seattle’s commitment to build 50,000 units of housing over the next decade
  • Visiting the new South Lake Union neighborhood, built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s development company Vulcan as the center of the city’s life sciences and tech economy
  • Public-private partnerships that are working to integrate Seattle’s downtown and neighborhood development
  • The city’s commitment to public art and its extraordinary Chihuly Garden and Glass installation
  • Learning about the business of the iconic Pike Place Market, the oldest continuously operating public market in the US, and the commitment of the Pike Place Market Foundation to serve its low-income neighbors

A look at our recent visit in tweets:

Announcing 5 Days of Free CodeGirl Screenings


We are so excited to share news of the new documentary CodeGirl, which follows Technovation teams during the 2015 season. Made by Lesley Chilcott (producer of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman), this film aims to inspire more girls all over the world to pursue their interests in STEM and entrepreneurship.

The movie follows 5,500 high school-aged girls from 60 countries as they compete in the annual Technovation Challenge. The girls have three months to develop an app that attempts to solve a problem in their local community.

We are proud to announce that two of the teams featured in the movie are from Massachusetts: Andover and Winchester. The teams were supported by the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. The MassTLC Education Foundation,, led the effort to engage and guide industry mentors for each Massachusetts team.

The Technovation Challenge teachers girls that code touches every part of the world – and no matter what you want to be when you grow up, code and Computer Science skills can help you get there.

Starting on November 1 through November 5, you can be part of this global initiative by watching the movie and watch the full trailer here:

Watch it Online: From November 1 — 5, CodeGirl will be available for free on YouTube. The goal of the campaign is to inspire as many students as possible during this special 5 day free viewing period. You can access the film, starting November 1 at or below:

See it in Theaters: The film will be opening in select theaters across the country, starting on November 1st. See if it is playing at a theater near you:

Watch it on demand: The film will be available on demand starting November 6th on all VOD platforms. Visit for more information.

After watching and being inspired, join us for a kick-off for this year’s Technovation Challenge at Microsoft New England R&D Center on December 5th. Register at Join us and unlock the code to the future.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

Microsoft Top Picks: 6 Not-to-Miss Events This Week

Events 11-2

November snuck up on us fast, but we’re hitting back at it with a vengeance. This week, we’ve gathered six not-to-miss events in the Boston area that promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and great ideas.

MIT EmTech1) EmTech MIT
Monday, November 2 — Wednesday, November 4
MIT Media Lab | 75 Amherst Street | Cambridge
Twitter: @techreview | 

From AI and robotics to data-driven health care and future cities, the 15th annual EmTech MIT explores technologies highlighted in the recent 10 Breakthrough Technologies list and celebrates the 2015 Innovators Under 35.

Boston TechBreakfast2) Boston Tech Breakfast
Tuesday, November 3, 8am — 10am

Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @techbreakfast

Based on the popular TechBreakfast format, the Boston TechBreakfast is a “show and tell” format event where up to five different technologists will demo their technologies from a wide range of industries ranging from software to hardware, IT to Biotech, robotics to space tech. The event is “triple agnostic”. We don’t care if the technology is from a start up, a large company, a university, a government agency, or someone’s hobby. We are also agnostic as to the industry of the tech – it could be IT, biotech, robotics, aerospace, materials sciences, anything tech and innovative is cool. And we’re also region agnostic – even if you’re not from where we’re hosting, we want to see you and your technology!

roxbury-inno3) Learn Lab Workshops: Small Business Breakfast: Intro to Windows 10
Tuesday, November 3, 8:30am—9:30am

Roxbury Innovation Center | 2300 Washington Street, 2nd Floor | Boston
Twitter: @RoxburyInno

Introduction to Windows 10 for small business owners. This breakfast will introduce participants to the new features of Windows 10 and the usage applicability in the small business arena.

The Learn Lab Workshops are a partnership between the Venture Café Foundation and Microsoft This series of workshops at the Roxbury Innovation Center are designed to help innovators develop technology skills to achieve their goals. Workshops will span a wide range of topics from how to build apps to email productivity, from spreadsheet and presentation skills to special tools for learning in the classroom.

4) Boston Civic Innovation Pitch Contest and Reception
Wednesday, November 4, 6pm—8pm
District Hall | 75 Northern Ave | Boston
Twitter: @MartinOMalley 

Join Governor Martin O’Malley for a reception, featuring a start-up pitch contest for social entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas for transforming public service. Meet with innovators from the Boston tech community, including investors and entrepreneurs.

Untitled design (2)5) What Does Big Data Mean to You?
Thursday, November 5, 4pm — 7:30pm
clypd | 212 Elm Street, 4th Floor | Somerville
Twitter: @YouthCITIES | 

clypd and Youth Cities are teaming together to present an inter-generational workshop: What Does Big Data Mean to You?

Generation Citizen Civics Day6) 2nd Annual Generation Citizen Civic Tech Challenge
Saturday, November 7, 8am—9pm
Microsoft New England R&D Center | 1 Memorial Drive | Cambridge
Twitter: @gencitizen

Hackathon During the Day: As part of the Generation Citizen action civics program, over 1,000 high school students across 20 Boston-area schools will launch action projects to advocate for change on Boston’s most significant community problems. By the Civic Tech Challenge, GC students will have identified a significant community issue, analyzed the issue to identify its systemic root causes, and be just about ready to reach out to local decision-makers and constituents to advocate for change on their issue. By partnering with Civic Tech Challenge hackteams at this key point in the GC process, students will have innovative technology add-ons that can bolster their case and accelerate their ability to be changemakers.

Night Reception: Join prominent local keynote and honoree (TBD), a Judging Panel of leading civic innovators, and over 200 guests from Boston’s most influential finance, service, and startup companies to judge and celebrate solutions to civic problems hacked by leading local developers in collaboration with teens from the Generation Citizen program. Food and drinks included in the $50 Presentation & Awards Dinner ticket.

Congratulations to the 2015 MassChallenge Award Recipients!


We’re in the middle of a revolution.

Around the world, innovative minds are coming together to collaborate on the next great idea. In Boston in particular, we seek to elevate these great minds — and that’s why MassChallenge is so important. This year, hundreds of startups approached MassChallenge for the chance to make their great idea the next big thing. And last night, we honored the final 26 MassChallenge startups in the culminating MassChallenge Awards Ceremony (#MCAwards15), where 16 of the finalists were awarded their share of $1.5 million.

Among the top four winners (receiving $100,000 each) was Sanitation and Health Rights in India (SHRI), named a 2015 Microsoft Civic Tech Scholar.

The full list of winners:

$100,000 tier

$50,000 tier

A recap of the Awards Ceremony:

5 things I learned at the NEC Talent Pipeline Event

A few weeks ago I was part of a terrific panel of speakers convened by the New England Council for a Talent Pipeline Forum. Jamie Merisotis of the Lumina Foundation delivered a keynote address highlighting his new book, America Needs Talent.

This is a topic of great interest to me and Microsoft as we are facing a shortage of talent with Computer Science and Programming skills.  According to, in Massachusetts there are currently 21,665 open computing jobs (3.2x the state average demand rate) but only 1,334 computer science graduates.  Through support of Hour of Code, Coder Dojo, TEALS and more, Microsoft is working trying to innovate in this space and think about new ways to encourage students to pursue education and careers in technology.

In our conversation, my fellow panelists made me aware of a few programs that could also help to address this talent shortage.  Here is what I learned from the panel:

  • Jamie Merisotis, Author and CEO of Lumina Foundation
    With falling wages and rising inequality, persistent unemployment, failing schools, and broken cities, have America’s best days come and gone? In America Needs Talent, Jamie Merisotis, a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, higher education, and public policy, explains why talent is needed to usher in a new era of innovation and success, and why deliberate choices must be made by government, the private sector, education, and individuals to grow talent in America.


  • Julian Alssid, Chief Workforce Strategist, College for America at Southern New Hampshire University
    College for America is an accredited, nonprofit college dedicated to making a college degree achievable for every working adult: flexibly scheduled, uniquely applicable, competency-based education for just $2,500 a year (or less).


  • Dr. Carla Brodley, Dean of the College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University
    As career goals can shift and interests expand, new opportunities arise, industries change, and technology advances. Whether your undergraduate degree was in the sciences or liberal arts, and whether you’re a recent college graduate or an experienced professional, ALIGN offers you a transition into some of the most dynamic industries across the globe. Our one-of-a-kind ALIGN (Accelerated Link to Industry through Northeastern’s Global Network) master’s degree programs provide you with the knowledge and experience necessary to shift your career into this high-demand field.


  • Cathleen Finn, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, New England Manager
    Now serving four classes of students, P-TECH continues to chart new territory in the reform of secondary and postsecondary education in the United States. As the first school in the nation that connects high school, college, and the world of work through college and industry partnerships, we are pioneering a new vision for college and career readiness and success. With a unique 9-14 model, the goal for our diverse, unscreened student population is 100% completion of an associate degree within six years.


  • Dr. Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Director of Connecticut Community Colleges’ College of Technology and Executive Director of the Center for Next Generation Manufacturing
    The Center for Next Generation Manufacturing creates a seamless pathway, with no barriers or loss of earned credits, for students transitioning from a two-year college to a four-year program at partnering colleges and universities. The center is directed by the Connecticut College of technology, which itself is an online learning platform serving all 12 of Connecticut’s Community Colleges. The Center identifies skills and practices in the manufacturing sector and ties curriculum directly to the needs of industry in order for students to be prepared to enter the workforce or continue to their education and learn the skills that Connecticut employers value.


In his welcome remarks, Jim Brett of the New England Council also highlighted a recently released report on Advanced Manufacturing and referenced the opportunity for talent in this field as well.