Microsoft and National Council on the Aging Announce Grants Totaling More Than $400,000 to Help Disadvantaged Older Adults

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 4, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. and the National Council on the Aging (NCOA) announced today the results of their joint PC Empowerment Initiative, awarding grants of cash, hardware and software to 17 community-based organizations that serve seniors. The grants will support customized programs aimed at improving PC literacy and technology access for older Americans and enhancing employment skills through technology training.

Microsoft and NCOA announced a nationwide competition in April for organizations working with disadvantaged seniors and with a focus on increasing job skills to apply for PC Empowerment grants. Seventeen community-based organizations across the country were selected from almost 400 applicants to receive grants worth more than a total of $420,000. Each organization created a plan to provide specialized computer training to the older adults they serve, with the long-term goal of enhancing community, creativity and employability.

The diverse organizations selected include a Chinese Community Center in Houston that teaches data entry to increase job skills for non-English-speaking seniors and a mobile computer center used in rural California to bring computer job skill training to seniors living in outlying areas.

All organizations will be outfitted with Sony VAIO computer systems, a variety of Microsoft® software programs such as the Windows® 98 operating system, Microsoft Press® materials, accounts with the MSN
Internet Access, training materials and cash gifts for program implementation.

“This program highlights the important changes that PC and Internet technology can make in the lives of older Americans,”
said James Firman, president of NCOA.
“Once access and education are available, opportunities for employment, research and community involvement can increase dramatically for seniors.”

Americans over the age of 60 represent the fastest-growing segment of computer and Internet users, but fewer than 10 percent of senior households in the United States own and frequently use a computer, compared to 45 percent PC ownership overall. The potential for PC and Internet technology to enhance seniors’ lives for the better is exponential. As they explore the capabilities of computers and the Internet, many will find numerous opportunities for enhancing their daily lives. A PC and Internet access can help seniors make informed decisions regarding their personal finances and health care, expand their creativity, communicate with friends and family, remain politically active and build essential job skills to stay employable.

Microsoft and NCOA have met with government agencies to understand this administration’s view and concerns about the aging U.S. population and ways that technology can be a part of the solution. At their request, Microsoft testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in July on ways the Internet can empower older Americans and enhance their independent living and employability. The government sees potential in empowering seniors with technology so they can make informed decisions about all aspects of their lives.
“No doubt the use of the computer to access information will be a way of life for even more people, young and old, in the future,”
said Jeanette Takamura, assistant secretary for aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Already we know that older Americans are spending a growing number of hours accessing information on a variety of topics and about many different concerns. And they are among the most enthusiastic users in our country.”

Microsoft’s participation in this program is part of the company’s long-term commitment to provide disadvantaged communities with access to technology and training. Other recent initiatives designed to bring technology skills to low-income and other disadvantaged communities with an eye on increasing employment opportunities include the Microsoft Skills 2000 program, portions of which focus on seniors and low-income communities, and Working Connections, which funds information technology training for community colleges that recruit job-seekers from disadvantaged communities.

“Microsoft is committed to helping provide the access and tools necessary for seniors to take full advantage of the Information Age,”
said Craig Spiezle, Microsoft director of the senior initiative.
“The organizations selected for these grants are embracing the opportunity to bring technology access to seniors in their communities; the creativity and ingenuity shown in their proposals is inspiring.”

This PC Empowerment Initiative is a collaborative effort of Microsoft, NCOA and Sony Corp., which generously supplied VAIO computer systems as part of the grant package. NCOA, a nonprofit association based in Washington, D.C., is a leading advocate for older people and has lent its in-depth knowledge of community programs for older adults to this grant project.

PC Empowerment Grantees

  • Alzheimer’s Association of Central New York, Syracuse, N.Y., will use computers as part of its program called Alzheimer-Student Connection Encouraging Networking and Development (ASCEND), which engages incipient Alzheimer’s patients by helping them use the PC as a surrogate short-term-memory device.

  • Athens Community Council on Aging, Athens, Ga., will set up a computer lab to provide educational and skills training for older adults.

  • California Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) Association, Orange, Calif., will use this grant to establish the Senior Network Advocacy Program (SNAP) to teach seniors PC and Internet skills to empower them and enable them to acquire job skills.

  • Center in the Park, Philadelphia, will create an on-site computer lab for low- to moderate-income African-American seniors.

  • Chicanos por la Causa, Tucson, Ariz., will use this grant as part of its Senior Training and Employment program (STEP), which is designed to meet the needs of older adults who want to enter or re-enter the job market.

  • Chinese Community Center, Houston, will network and upgrade its computer center, which trains older Asian immigrants in data entry to increase their employability.

  • Des Moines Senior Center, Des Moines, Wash., will utilize this grant for its Seniors for Seniors multigenerational training program, taught by local high-school students.

  • Green Thumb Inc., Liberty, Ky., will create a community computer-learning center that focuses on teaching older adults and will use local high-school seniors to train older people.

  • Kings County Commission on Aging, Hanford, Calif., will install computers in a mobile training center that serves seniors in remote rural agricultural areas.

  • Los Alamos Senior Programs, Los Alamos, N.M., will update the equipment for its senior computer literacy program.

  • Oklahoma City Personal Computer Users Group, Oklahoma City, Okla., will use the donated computers to serve visually impaired older adults in computer assisted technologies and Internet-related technology.

  • Self Help for the Elderly, San Francisco, will use the grant as part of its new Technology and Information Empowerment Center, which helps disadvantaged and non-English-speaking seniors learn computer skills for increased employability.

  • SeniorNet of University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla., will upgrade its computer learning center, which teaches computer skills to older adults.

  • SCSEP, Parkersburg, W. Va., will use this donation to train seniors in technology, with an eye on engaging rural residents.

  • The Seniors Foundation, Lincoln, Neb., will upgrade its Golden Opportunities for Active Learning (GOAL) Computer Center and allow for expanded focus on job skills training.

  • The SER Corp., Wichita, Kan., will use the donated computers for its job skills training program targeted at disadvantaged Hispanic seniors.

  • Whitney Center, St. Cloud, Minn., will take advantage of this grant to team up with Green Thumb, the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of employment training for older Americans, to provide job training at its senior center.

The National Council on the Aging is a center of leadership, innovation and nationwide expertise in the issues of aging. A nonprofit association located in Washington, D.C., NCOA is committed to promoting the dignity, self-determination, well-being and contributions of older people and to enhancing the field of aging through research, service, education and advocacy.

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