More than 100 Local Organizations Benefit From Microsoft’s Connected Learning Community Program

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 5, 2000 —
“You can’t train today’s employees on yesterday’s equipment,”
said David Ocegueda Bracker, executive director of Arriba Juntos.
“That’s a great slogan, but it’s hard to live up to. So Microsoft is helping to keep us current.”

Arriba Juntos, Spanish for
“upward together,”
is a nonprofit career-development agency located in the Mission District of San Francisco. For the past 35 years, the agency has helped low-income people and minorities, primarily Latinos, find secure, permanent jobs. This year, a $147,000 grant of cash and software from Microsoft’s Connected Learning Community (CLC) program will help the agency and its partners — the Bay Area Video Coalition, the Mission Hiring Hall and the City College of San Francisco — to upgrade computers and software at several community-based technology centers, as well as train the staff who support the centers.

“Our centers provide public access to the Internet for people who are looking for jobs or upgrading their resumes, so different people with different skills use our equipment,”
Bracker said.
“There is a continual need for upgrading, improving, training and repair. The grant from Microsoft will go a long way to assist us in our efforts to provide the local Latino community with cutting-edge equipment.”

The Connected Learning Community program seeks to enhance the education and communication of individuals in disadvantaged communities by expanding access to information technology. CLC grants are given to public and nonprofit organizations that connect people of all ages to learning resources. Cash and software contributions are awarded twice each fiscal year to community-based organizations nationwide. In addition to the Arriba Juntos grant, Microsoft recently awarded CLC grants to 14 other nonprofits, bringing the cumulative donations from the CLC program to $4.5 million in cash and software awarded to more than 100 nonprofit organizations.

Bruce Brooks, Microsoft’s director of Community Affairs, believes the CLC program offers an effective way to provide technology access directly to underserved communities.
“While technology is creating pathways to success, far too many people are detoured because large gaps exist between them and technological resources and training,”
said Brooks.
“Through the CLC program, we are able to help bridge this ‘digital divide.’ In many circumstances, these bridges go well beyond funding and software to include volunteer support and ongoing relationships with these outstanding community organizations. Best of all, though, the tools and resources are giving more people a chance to discover their futures and, ultimately, to accomplish great things.”

Last year, the YWCA in Boston used a grant from the CLC program to create a computer lab as part of YWCA Boston’s
“Generations Learning Together”
program at The Grandfamilies House, the nation’s first residential community supporting grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. The computer lab provides the technology component of this unique program, which also includes before-and-after school programs with math and science focuses.

“The Microsoft grant for the computer lab opened up the world for these grandchildren and their grandparents,”
said Libbie Shufro, vice president of External Affairs and Development at YWCA Boston.
“The lab brings family members together and promotes learning across generations using cutting-edge technology — often with fascinating results. For example, fast-learning grandchildren often become their grandparents’ teachers.”

The lab provides access to technology through training in basic computer skills, the Internet and software applications for both grandchildren and grandparents. Microsoft volunteers and partners provide training, mentoring and overall support.

“Grandparents have become teachers, too,”
Shufro said.
“Using Microsoft’s interactive education software, Encarta Africana, they are able to share with their grandchildren their own stories, roots and history as African Americans in concert with Encarta’s images, video, music and text. This kind of learning promotes great pride.”

The mission of the CLC program is an extension of the Microsoft corporate goal to make it easier and more enjoyable for people to take daily advantage of the full power of personal computing. As Microsoft develops the tools to assist people in reaching their potential, the CLC program connects people who ordinarily would not have such access to the latest personal computing and Internet technology.

“The computer lab is all about access — in this case, it is access to skills and tools that are often a given for middle-class families,”
Shufro said.
“The grandparents are pleased that their grandchildren are acquiring skills and tools that will help them succeed in school and equip them to compete in the working world.”

Microsoft’s regional field offices team up with local nonprofit organizations to develop CLC grant requests of up to $15,000 per project. Software donations are often made in addition to financial support. Virtually all of the CLC grants are initiated by Microsoft field offices rather than from unsolicited proposals.

Arriba Juntos looks forward to a growing relationship with Microsoft, Bracker said.
“Within the Latino community, the ‘digital divide’ is growing wider,”
he said.
“We hope to keep working with Microsoft and the information technology industry to draw attention to this discrepancy. In the meantime, with Microsoft’s help, we might even be able to get ahead of the curve.”

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