How 9 upgrades from the tech world are changing lives in the real world.
Technology is always evolving to make tomorrow better than yesterday.
Businesses are able to run more smoothly, we can connect with people faster — even something as simple as ordering takeout has become, well, simpler.
But what we don't always see is the greater purpose the tech world's incredible advancements are serving. Technology can do great things to make the world a better place.
With it, education has become more accessible, social media has given a voice to the voiceless — even treating a patient halfway across the world has become possible.
Nonprofits have harnessed the power and potential of technology to create more good in the world as well. They are optimizing their operations, amplifying their voices, and expanding their critical programs and services to upgrade their communities and the world.
Here are nine awesome ways nonprofits are using technology to everyone's advantage.
1. Improving the health of mothers and newborns in India with do-it-all phones and real-time data.
Health care workers in Bihar, India, used to have to carry up to 38 backbreaking ledgers from home to home just to keep record of their patients' progress. But with help from CARE, the workers can now conduct checkups just by using an app on their phones.
They can schedule visits and register and record real-time health information for mothers, pregnant women, and newborns, giving health care workers a quicker picture of what their patients' needs are and how they can improve their condition without missing a beat.
2. Mapping underwater habitats to create a more sustainable ocean ecosystem.
The Nature Conservancy's Mapping Ocean Wealth initiative is creating an exciting new way to study and map marine life.
Researchers are creating detailed maps to better understand the value of ocean ecosystems and how they ultimately affect the livelihood of surrounding communities. The mapping provides people with more accurate information on how to maximize the ocean habitats and better sustain their ecosystems.
3. Breaking barriers and promoting inclusion for all of the world's athletes.
Special Olympics is stepping up their game by providing their athletes with tech to help them track performance, train smarter, and compete harder. On top of that, they can share their achievements online and connect with other athletes.
In addition, they are using technology to bring athletes with and without disabilities together through Play Unified — a series of events across the country sponsored by Special Olympics. Through the beauty of sport, they're working — and playing — together to promote inclusion and combat the intolerance many individuals with disabilities face.
4. Building better school systems and improving childhood literacy in remote areas.
250 million children around the world lack basic reading and writing skills. Thankfully, Pencils of Promise has made it a mission to lower that number by building schools, providing quality educational programming, and supporting teachers in remote communities.
Even better, they digitally track and measure the progress of each student, making it easier to see the effects of their lesson plans and adjust them to be more effective. Now with 363 schools around the world, Pencils of Promise continues to make progress toward its goal of providing access to quality education for all children.
5. Providing support groups for and connecting young people living with HIV.
The stigma surrounding HIV can be incredibly difficult to deal with for a young person. But Keep a Child Alive has found that technology can play a simple but extremely effective role in changing their outlook.
Using Skype, young people are able to share their experiences, challenges, hopes, and dreams with others just like them. Whether across town or across the African continent, they're creating a community of empowerment focused on fighting the impact of HIV on their families, friends, and communities.
6. Creating a global community of difference-makers and coordinating their efforts online.
Global Citizen's plan is straightforward: End extreme poverty, fight inequality, and fix climate change by 2030. Yes, it's bold, but they believe it can be done with the help of technology.
Global Citizen provides an online platform for people to connect with others, spread the message to world leaders, and fight for change. But they're also making it incredibly fun. Through gamification and the wildly successful Global Citizen Festival, doing great things has never been so engaging.
7. Creating more effective and meaningful connections between children and their sponsors.
Save the Children provides an early start to education for children living in poverty. And with technology's help, they can speed up the learning process significantly.
Connecting each sponsor with the children they're supporting is a key part of what keeps Save the Children's programs going, but it typically requires a lot of data transfer between offices that can take up to three weeks. With a more efficient online system in place, however, data can be accessed in real time, resulting in accelerated and improved interactions between sponsors and the children they're supporting.
8. Generating the largest educational event in the history of the world.
Code.org has a simple idea: Get kids to explore computer science with just an hour of code. It started out small but has since expanded to over 100 million students in 180 countries. Now anyone can organize their own Hour of Code around the world!
With an ever-evolving digital landscape, knowledge in computer science is extremely important for our future generations. No doubt, the world's largest educational event will only get bigger as the message continues to spread.
9. Giving a voice to young women around the world.
Malala Yousafzai has taken the world by storm with her relentless pursuit of education for girls around the world through her nonprofit, Malala Fund. Her organization has partnered with Nairobits, a Kenyan nonprofit that provides training in communications and technology to marginalized adolescent girls.
The program also provides job support and mentorship for these young women to improve their quality of life and assist their families in a way they never could before. As of 2015, they had 150 girls enrolled in the program, and that number has already doubled this year. Just imagine where they'll be in a decade!
All of these efforts are part of Microsoft's initiative to Upgrade Your World.
As part of the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft undertook a yearlong initiative to celebrate people and organizations doing great things to upgrade the world. They invested $10 million in 110 nonprofits and donated more than $10 million in technology to help them achieve more.
But it's not just these organizations that are benefiting — each year, Microsoft supports more than 100,000 nonprofits around the world with software and services to help them do more good.
In fact, your favorite nonprofit could qualify for a software donation from Microsoft, too. Visit microsoft.com/nonprofits for more details.