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Microsoft in your community

Sweden Community Challenge extended to empower more local projects

Since 2019, Microsoft has partnered with non-profit organization ChangeX to deliver grassroots projects and community funds in datacenter communities across the US and Europe.

One of those funds is the 700,000 SEK Sweden Community Challenge, launched by ChangeX in March 2022. The Challenge, supported by a Community Empowerment Fund award from Microsoft, is open to community groups, schools, and organizations across Gävle, Sandviken and Staffanstorp.

Funding of up to 50,000 SEK is available to start a project from a curated portfolio of 12 ideas related to environmental sustainability and community prosperity.

This marks the second Sweden Community Challenge supported by Microsoft, and builds on the 800,000 SEK of funding provided last year, which supported people in Gävle, Sandviken and Staffanstorp to drive positive change in their communities.

Supporting local projects

Among the projects supported by the 2021 Challenge were school gardens, a Repair Cafe and a Cycling Without Age chapter.

For example, Sofia Lord helped to start a school garden project at three schools in Gävle, with local teams planting perennial vegetables, fruit and berries.

Sofia said the project had brought “great joy” for students and teachers alike, introducing the children to new plants and giving them the opportunity to try new flavors. Plus, she said the project had inspired teachers to introduce these plants into educational activities, highlighting many important connections for the children, around ecological literacy, biodiversity and food resilience.

“The project has laid a foundation for continued education on perennial edible plants,” Sofia said. “The gardens have been planted, and the plan is that they continue to grow and develop, forever. This is the start and now the work and learning continues!”

Creating community connection

Another of the projects supported by the 2021 Challenge was Grow Buddy, which enables the creation of shared gardens where people can connect to each other, nature and food.

Elias Astour of Uppåckra Archeological Association received support through the 2021 Sweden Community Challenge to start a Grow Buddy project to explore and learn more about pre-historic gardening and share that knowledge with other people in the community.

“Peas, carrots, dill, kale and other herbs and vegetables grown here at the Iron Age site of Uppåkra, from around 100 BC to about 1000 AD, have thrived in the garden beds,” he said. “The funding has been of great help for us to get started with this project and we are planning to expand the gardens next year.”

He explained that the project had boosted understanding about the herbs and vegetables grown at the site during the Iron Age, and had brought that history to life by allowing people to “see, touch and taste” the produce.

Robert Nowicki received funding from the 2021 Sweden Community Challenge to start the Print Hero Repair Café in Staffanstorp. Repair Cafés are free meeting places where people come together to repair things, reducing waste and helping local people connect and share valuable skills.

Drawing on his knowledge of product design and 3D printing, Robert and the team of volunteers at the Repair Café produce specific parts needed to repair items. “I never throw anything away unless there’s no other way to fix it, and there usually is a way to fix things,” he said.

Applications for the 2022 Sweden Community Challenge are now open. Visit the ChangeX website to find out more.