Microsoft’s Philanthropic Arm to Bring Cloud Services to 70,000 Organizations by 2017

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Microsoft Philanthropies will donate $1 billion worth of Microsoft Cloud Services to nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years, CEO Satya Nadella announced ahead of a Wednesday speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Under a three-part commitment, the recently formed philanthropic subsidiary will attempt to deliver access to Microsoft cloud technology to over 70,000 organizations by 2017.

The initiative includes a 50 percent expansion of the Microsoft Azure for Research program, which currently supplies free Azure storage and other cloud resources to over 600 research projects on 6 continents. Microsoft Azure, CRM Online and the Enterprise Mobility Suite will be made more available to nonprofit organizations through a global donation program as part of the initiative, and the Office 365 Nonprofit program will add Power BI and be expanded. Microsoft Philanthropies and Microsoft Business Development will also donate access to cloud services and invest “in new low-cost last-mile Internet access technologies and community training.”

“We’re committed to helping nonprofit groups and universities use cloud computing to address fundamental human challenges,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “One of our ambitions for Microsoft Philanthropies is to partner with these groups and ensure that cloud computing reaches more people and serves the broadest array of societal needs.”

Microsoft Philanthropies was launched in December, as part of an effort to support the 17 Sustainable Development goals adopted by the United Nations in September. A UN report released the same month suggested that barely a third of people in developing nations have Internet access. The organization is headed by Microsoft veteran Mary Snapp. Some of the organization’s specific projects supported are outlined in a blog post by Smith.

“If we do not put this technology power in the hands of mission-driven organizations, we risk making a disproportionate investment in solutions to ‘first-world problems’ at the expense of solutions focused on the greater public good,” Nadella said.

Recent charitable contributions from the technology sector include Cleversafe founder Chris Gladwin’s sizable donation to Illinois Tech, and server donations to Universities by Yahoo and Linode.

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