microsoft rainbow railroad

I am always looking for ways to make a greater impact on my audience, whether in the form of providing inspiration, creating meaningful content, giving advice, or leading by example. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have built a platform to be able to reach people and do that. Another way I try to achieve this goal is by partnering with socially responsible brands (like when I traveled to Colombia to learn about sustainable coffee-growing).

I have been a proud Microsoft ambassador for the past couple years and I’m pleased to continue to partner with this company. Not only does its suite of products help me and my small business tremendously on a day-to-day basis, but Microsoft also makes many efforts to do better in the world – and that’s something I can get on-board with! For example, I recently learned about how Microsoft is supporting the Rainbow Railroad initiative and knew I wanted to help spread the word.

microsoft rainbow railroad

What is the Rainbow Railroad?

We’ve come a long way, but it’s saddening to know that discrimination based on sexual orientation and identification is still very prevalent. What’s even more unfortunate is that there are so many countries in the world where members of the LGBTQ community are actively targeted and even persecuted. Regardless of whether we have been affected directly or not, we ALL know at least one person who has been the subject of this type of discrimination.

Every single person is worthy and deserving of certain fundamental things, like dignity, respect, personal freedom, and safety.

Rainbow Railroad helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) persons escape danger in their home countries by providing assistance to relocate to a safe environment. It was created in the spirit of the Underground Railroad (hence the name). Rainbow Railroad works with people to identify safe routes for escape, connect them with local resources, and provide information and financial support. Since this charity was founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad has helped more than 500 people find a path to safety. After spending some time on the Rainbow Railroad website and reading the individual stories and case studies, I was incredibly moved. So, in addition to informing my community about this initiative through this post, I decided to make a donation online as well.

microsoft rainbow railroad

What has Microsoft Done?

Microsoft Canada recently partnered with three notable Canadians who are Microsoft Surface-users to raise funds for Rainbow Railroad: Hayley Elsaesser (you may recall I wrote about Hayley Elsaesser’s designs with Microsoft last year in this post), Stef Sanjati, and Maria Qamar (also known as Hatecopy). Have you heard of them? Hayley is an acclaimed Canadian fashion designer, who is known for her fun and colourful designs. Stef is an LGBTQ activist and YouTuber, who uses her platform to educate people on transgender issues. Maria is an internationally-recognized artist, who is known for her desi pop art. You can read more about these Microsoft Surface influencers here.

Microsoft asked each of these women to create a unique design, which would be turned into a product that could be sold to help raise funds for Rainbow Railroad. Here’s what they came up with…

microsoft hayley elsaessar rainbow railroad

Hayley has been creating her colourful prints using Microsoft design products for a long time. She reimagined one of her classic designs to make this ‘Mouthy for a Reason’ backpack. Isn’t it super cute?!

stef sanjati microsoft rainbow railroad

Stef created this #BREADSQUAD hoodie (“Breadsquad” is a term she uses to describe her online community). She used the Microsoft Surface to produce the design.

hatecopy microsoft rainbow railroad

Maria also used her Microsoft Surface to create this awesome desi pop art sticker sheet. You can put the stickers on the back of a laptop or tablet, notebook, or anywhere else to show your support for the artist and cause!

The kicker to all of this? ALL, not just a portion of, the proceeds from the sale of these items go directly to Rainbow Railroad. Through design, Microsoft is continuing to make an impact.

So, What Can You Do?

Besides showing your support for these talented Canadians by purchasing their creations, there are a number of other ways you can contribute to the Rainbow Railroad initiative:

  • You can go online and make a donation directly to Rainbow Railroad here
  • You can be a volunteer with Rainbow Railroad (their organization is primarily volunteer-based), or
  • You can spread the word by telling a friend, family member, or co-worker!

Join Microsoft Canada and Rainbow Railroad in helping to make a difference in a fellow human being’s life!


*This post was done in partnership with Microsoft Canada, but as always, all opinions and thoughts are 100% my own.