Technology has become an essential part of daily lives around the world, empowering people to achieve more for themselves, their families, and their communities. Youth from low-income backgrounds, however, may have very little knowledge, access, and exposure to technology which prevents them from gaining employment, tapping into new opportunities, and actively participating in an increasingly digital world.


INNOVATE, a partnership between Gawad Kalinga (GK) and Microsoft Philanthropies under the Microsoft YouthSpark program, hopes to contribute to helping the youth, especially the disadvantaged, to pave a way out of poverty by providing them with the skills necessary to thrive in a digital world. INNOVATE is a cohesive two-pronged project that advocates the training and development of computational thinking (CT) and entrepreneurial skills that are integral to problem solving and leadership, regardless of the field or career the participants choose to pursue. Through INNOVATE, GK and Microsoft hope to create a tech stronghold that will prove to be a collective and lasting approach to addressing poverty.


The capacity-building and opportunity-seeking project will develop and enhance CT and entrepreneurial skills through a series of activities culminating in a Youth Summit, including:


HOUR OF CODE.  INNOVATE was launched with the Hour of Code in December 2016, an initiative designed to demystify coding and to encourage students to participate in a fun, interactive, introductory lesson to computer science. The campaign reached4,000 youth and 250 teachers from Iloilo, Davao, and Compostela Valley.


TRAIN THE TRAINERS. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, solid foundations will be established by providing formal educators and youth community leaders with leadership training anchored on computational thinking and creative problem solving. This strategy will empower them to be trailblazers and role models in their respective communities.



The camps will lay the groundwork for the use of technology in social businesses and will feature inspirational talks from social entrepreneurs who will introduce GK’s business model, as well as workshops that encourage CT, tech-related creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking. Social entrepreneurship is one of GK’s main investments in its mission to address poverty through social movements. Through social entrepreneurship, the skills and resources of community residents can be tapped and a bridge can be built to bring their products and potential to the rest of Philippine society. Technology can accelerate and amplify this impact.


Train the Trainers and the Social Business Camps are currently ongoing from January to March 2017.



INNOVATE will culminate in a Youth Summit that will bring together social entrepreneurs, schools, and universities and be a platform for conversation and action on technology, employment, and entrepreneurship.


INNOVATE seeks to reach out to 4,500 youth and 250 teachers in its training and development courses.


Jose Luis Oquinena, GK Executive Director says, “Technology is a powerful tool that can help transform lives and enable Filipino youth from all sectors of society to achieve their goals and strengthen their communities by becoming part of the digital world. We look forward to exploring opportunities with INNOVATE to see how technology can be made to reduce the digital divide and promote greater inclusion, especially, among the disenfranchised sectors.”



About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.


Microsoft Philippines, the local subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation, has been constantly bringing innovation and making its technology available to Filipino businesses and individuals since 1995. As a committed and trusted partner in nation-building, Microsoft Philippines has made it its mission to fuel growth and healthy communities, as well as transform locally-based businesses and empower them to compete in the global economy.


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