Microsoft Announces Working Connections “Class of 2002”

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 26, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced its Working Connections
“Class of 2002,”
the third set of community college grantees in this five-year, $7 million philanthropic program aimed at helping disadvantaged people prepare for information technology jobs. These eight recipients, representing 35 community colleges, have been awarded cash grants ranging from $240,000 to $300,000 to develop and implement technology training programs that directly address the work force needs of their local communities.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), representing one of the eight states where the grant recipients are located, praised the program.
“With the fast-changing pace of the nation’s economy, I commend Microsoft for its leadership in helping to educate and provide many more Americans with the skills and knowledge to compete more effectively in today’s job market,”
said Kennedy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.

Microsoft initiated the Working Connections program in 1997 in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that manages the program on a daily basis. As of today, Working Connections grants have been awarded to more than 60 community colleges in both urban and rural areas, with a special focus on supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was pleased with the program’s diverse reach.
“Technology training is most often associated with urban areas, but it is increasingly vital for rural communities as well,”
said McConnell.
“The Working Connections grant from Microsoft will bring much-needed technology training and job opportunities to people across the state of Kentucky. I applaud the company for their forward-thinking generosity in technology education.”

The new community college grant recipients that make up the Working Connections
“Class of 2002”
include the following:

  • Bristol Community College , Fall River, Mass.

  • Fashion Institute of Technology , New York

  • Ilisagvik College , Barrow, Alaska

  • Kentucky Community and Technical College System , including all 28 community and technical colleges in Kentucky

  • San Diego Community College District , San Diego

  • Southwest Virginia Community College , Richland, Va.

  • Southwestern Oregon Community College , Coos Bay, Ore.

  • St. Petersburg Junior College , St. Petersburg, Fla.

The program emphasizes partnerships with local businesses to develop curriculum and internship opportunities, new training opportunities for educators, and the recruitment and support of disadvantaged students either already at the school or in the local community.

“One of the fundamental goals of our corporate giving is to make technology, training and support more available to those who might not otherwise have access to these opportunities,”
said Bruce Brooks, director of community affairs at Microsoft.
“Working Connections fulfills this goal by combining skill development with innovative education methods to meet local business needs. More important, the results — people with the skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow — have been remarkable.”

Camden County College in New Jersey, a Working Connections grant recipient from 1999, has already seen interest from local businesses to hire their students.
“With the help of Working Connections, we were able to develop an IT curriculum that directly responds to the needs of our community, and local businesses are already trying to hire students that are still completing the program,”
said Phyllis Owens, the Working Connections program director at Camden County College. Co-director Elaine Reeder added,
“We are excited to continue adjusting the program as the needs of our local businesses expand and alter.”

Four major medical health centers in the city of Camden and numerous medical institutions in nearby Philadelphia are in desperate need of technologically astute medical coders who translate physician and hospital codes into billing terminology for insurance companies. As the system changes to paperless, the need for training and retraining is filled by Camden County College – one of only a handful of community colleges in the country providing this kind of instruction.

Created in 1983, Microsoft’s community affairs program is one of the first philanthropic efforts in the high-tech industry. The company’s worldwide charitable efforts are aimed at increasing access to technology for disadvantaged communities and supporting community organizations in the areas of education, human services, civic development, the arts and the environment. Last year, Microsoft gave more than $25 million in cash and $79 million in software to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations. More information on Microsoft’s Giving Program, including its efforts to bridge the digital divide, are located at .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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