Microsoft is inviting applications for its newest Council for Digital Good, an 18-month engagement program for U.S. teens focused on understanding, recognizing and reducing digital risks and promoting safer, healthier and more respectful online interactions.
The council experience offers teens and Microsoft a way to discuss online safety topics of interest and concern, while providing council members with a platform to share their views on 21st-century issues affecting them. The program is designed so that both the youth and the company hear, understand and learn from each other as we all seek to create a safer, kinder and more empathetic digital world.
This latest program builds on learnings from a pilot cohort launched in 2017. Following a two-day summit at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, the 2017 pilot culminated a year later at a public event in Washington, D.C., where council members showcased their individual and cohort-wide projects, and were treated to a private meeting with the first lady.
Microsoft says that it has more exciting projects and engagements planned for their next council, and encourage youth who are motivated to make a difference in our online world to apply.
“Serving on the inaugural Council for Digital Good opened my eyes to a lot of different topics related to digital good and safety,” said Katherine Choi, an inaugural council member from California.
“(It) opened many doors for me to explore different kinds of career and research paths.” Katherine, now a college sophomore, is studying computer science and has a passion for “tech for good.”
Jacob Sedesse, a now-18-year-old from Florida, said he appreciated the opportunity to share his voice on important digital policy matters.
“I was so honoured and grateful that my voice was taken into consideration and that my early internet experiences, good and bad, meant something,” Jacob said. “They weren’t just brushed off as ‘watching cat videos’ or ‘playing Flash games’ as it was throughout my youth – my understanding was valued.”
How to apply
Interested teens ages 13 to 16 living in the United States are invited to complete and submit this online application by Monday, March 1, 2021. In addition to basic biographical information, the process calls for written essay or video responses to questions about life online generally, expectations for the council experience, and perspectives on Microsoft as a technology company.
Council for Digital Good program details
Applications will be reviewed following the March 1 submission deadline. In April, Microsoft plan to invite up to 15 young people from diverse backgrounds from across the country to join this second U.S. council. The program will include monthly video conference calls leading up to a virtual summit later this summer. Microsoft expects the summit to be followed by an in-person event at a more public forum in Fall 2022, pending travel and other restrictions across the U.S.
The summer summit will take place over four days, with half-day sessions comprising council discussions, dialogues with guest speakers, engagement with Microsoft representatives, individual and full-cohort assignments, and fun activities. After the summit, Microsoft hopes council members will serve as ambassadors for digital civility in their schools and communities, share their experiences and continue their participation in council-specific online and other forums.