Microsoft wants to bridge the technology gap.
The world’s largest software maker on Tuesday said it will expand its commitment to global philanthropy under a new organization called Microsoft Philanthropies. The organization will expand Microsoft’s existing charitable contributions like donating software to nonprofit organizations and supporting computer science education.
“Great technology alone is not enough,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Despite global expansion, increased access, and democratization of technology, the benefits of technology are not yet reaching everyone in the world.”
Microsoft’s charitable initiatives are similar to other tech heavyweights in Silicon Valley trying to narrow the digital divide. Facebook, along with Samsung and Nokia through the initiative Free Basics, formerly known as Internet.org, are seeking ways to provide Internet and other technology to underdeveloped countries around the world. Among its endeavors, Google announced earlier this year it will award $20 million to nonprofits helping people with disabilities live more independently.
One of Microsoft Philanthropies’ goals will be to address a lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education around the world, Smith said. The company has previously announced it is committing $75 million to its computer science education program. Microsoft said it will provide details about the programs and partnerships next year.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said it also will expand its community outreach through digital literacy programs.
The company’s charitable organization will report directly to Smith and be overseen by Mary Snapp, a Microsoft vice president and the company’s first-ever female attorney. Lori Forte Harnick, a Microsoft general manager, will serve as the organization’s chief operating officer.
Microsoft said during its most recent fiscal year it gave away more than $1 billion, including in-kind donations of nearly $950 million and nearly $120 million in cash donations.