The grand prize at the European Digital Skills Awards 2017
A new success for Romania in Brussels. The Opening Opportunities mentoring project, developed by Techsoup in collaboration with Microsoft and the National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries (ANBPR), as part of the global program Microsoft YouthSpark, is the great winner of the Digital Skills in Education category, in the European Digital Skills Awards 2017 competition.
Opening Opportunities is a mentor-lead programme, in which IT professionals mentor teams of high school students who discover computer science, product development and team work in poor regions in Romania. The project is carried out in several stages. First Microsoft employees are recruited as mentors and trained in product management, design, the ABC of start-ups, free learning resources, so they have the necessary skills to engage with their students. Then the project team together with the enrolled mentors, travel to cities across Romania (especially poorer regions). Presentation events are held at public libraries and then the team meets the high school students to understand their reality and inspire them to befriend technology and sign up for the 5 months mentoring programme. At the end of the mentoring period, seven teams are selected by a jury and the finalists pitch their computer science projects in Bucharest. The project is run by Asociatia Techsoup with the support of Microsoft YouthSpark and in partnership with Microsoft Romania and the National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries.