By Laura Clayton McDonnell, Microsoft Vice President

Ashelynn, an eighth grader in rural Ozark, Alabama, loves archery and playing her flute, theater and travel, but the thing she loves most is computer science. The self-professed “technology geek” used to think computers were only for doing homework or playing video games, and she says she would never have never realized how much she loves creating—not just using—technology, were it not for trying the introductory computer science initiatives Hour of Code and App Inventor at her local Boys & Girls Club. The budding computer scientist has coded a fortune-telling app and another that makes animated cats meow whenever you push a button, and she dreams of “making apps for the future that are useful to people,” she says.

Ashelynn doesn’t know where her passion for programming will take her—she has plenty of time to figure that out, she laughs—but the skills and confidence she gained at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Alabama will serve her whatever she pursues. “The doors are open,” she says.

Youth development nonprofits are serving kids like Ashelynn nationwide, ensuring young people are future-ready by providing access to digital skills and computer science classes. Without these opportunities, youth in many rural, urban and underserved communities would never have the chance to discover their passion or create innovative solutions to the world’s pressing problems. These nonprofits’ crucial work in narrowing the opportunity gap is just one reason for our continued support of #GivingTuesday, which leverages the generosity of citizens to power transformational change.

At Microsoft, we have stood with #GivingTuesday since its inception in 2012, and this year, we want to help your generosity go even further.

That’s why when you give your Microsoft Rewards points to youth-serving nonprofits, we’ll match the value of your donation starting today. If you are in the U.S., simply select Boys & Girls Clubs of America, City Year,, FIRST or Teach for America, and we’ll double your impact through December 31 – details. Not a Microsoft Rewards member? We’ll give you a free $1 to donate. If you are in the U.K., we’ll double your impact through November 30 when you donate your points to Special Olympics, UK Youth, and AbilityNet - details.

In celebration of #GivingTuesday, Microsoft Store is also recognizing the commitment and great work done by 92Y, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and City Year with a contribution of grants and Microsoft products to these organizations. Microsoft has a long history of supporting these nonprofits, and working together to provide programming and resources, to give young people the critical skills needed to succeed in today’s digital economy. We believe that each of these organizations makes wishes come true every day for communities.

You can also turn a wish into action and positively impact someone’s life when you visit the Microsoft Wish Machine at any Microsoft Store. We invite you and your community to share with us your most inspiring wishes for a chance to have Microsoft Store grant your wish. Starting today through Dec. 31, tell us your wish at your local Microsoft Store – big or small, for an individual or group – and a selection of wishes will come true across the U.S., Canada and Australia. Doing good doesn’t have to be wishful thinking this holiday. You can help give back and inspire your friends, family and community.

We know that generosity is important to you, and giving back is a core element of the ethos and culture at Microsoft, too. Last fiscal year Microsoft Philanthropies donated more than $1.2 billion in software and services to nonprofits as part of our commitment to ensuring these important organizations have the technology and skills they need for today’s digital economy. What’s more, for more than 30 years, our employees have given generously to the causes closest to their hearts, and we have matched their donations through the Microsoft employee giving program. Together, we have raised more than $1.5 billion—and we’re nowhere near done.

During this season of giving, it feels as if anything is possible: that together, we can ensure that every young person, especially those who have traditionally been left behind, has the computer science education and digital skills needed to seize the limitless opportunities of the future. “The fact is, students who gain knowledge in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and computer science are at a big advantage as they embark in our increasingly digital world,” says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President and Head of Microsoft Philanthropies. With your help and support of #GivingTuesday, we are moving closer to our goal of ensuring all youth have these opportunities—and are future-ready.