Microsoft Celebrates Black History Month

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 14, 2001 — In Chicago, an Hispanic small-business owner learns how the Internet can help him improve his bottom line. In Baltimore, a recently graduated African-American engineer meets with high-tech recruiters. In Redmond, minority high school students get a personal tour of new technology from Microsoft employees. These stories all reflect a continued commitment to diversify the technology work force and bridge the digital divide that threatens to leave many minority communities out of the technology revolution.

Microsoft is a leader in the effort to eliminate the digital divide and increase minority representation in the technology industry. By mobilizing its resources, Microsoft has developed programs and services to bring software and technology to underserved areas and has provided people with the training and support they need to put technology to work in their own lives and communities.

In celebration of Black History Month, Microsoft is participating in activities across the country that highlight the company’s commitment to making sure minority students and small-business owners have the tools and access to technology they need to succeed.

Bringing High-Tech Solutions to Minority Communities

Since 1997, Microsoft has sponsored National Black Family Technology Awareness Week, a special celebration designed to energize the African American community about the power of technology. This years event in Baltimore, Md., brought together churches, schools, businesses and other community organizations to help families learn about the amazing things technology can do to improve their daily lives.

“Technology helps people keep better records, allows teachers to enhance curriculum and helps nonprofits focus on people instead of paperwork. It is a wonderful tool that can truly transform lives,”
said John Litten, Microsoft director of Youth and Learning, who represented the company at the Baltimore conference.
“National Black Technology Awareness week helps put this powerful tool in the hands of local leaders, and I am pleased Microsoft was again able to participate in this exciting event.”

An important highlight of the week was the 15 th Annual Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference, which brought executives, professionals and students to Baltimore to participate in technology workshops and provided opportunity for them to meet with Microsoft recruiters at a career fair. It was also an opportunity for students to find role models, as Career Communications honored Microsofts Keith Toussant and J.C. Cannon with Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

During February, Microsoft also launched a nationwide effort to help minority businesses develop Web sites and take full advantage of Internet-based business tools. Currently, 1.4 million African-American and Hispanic small-business owners use desktop technology, but less than 2 percent of African-American and 6 percent of Hispanic small businesses effectively use the Internet. The 14-city
“Build Your Business”
tour, which includes a total of 85 free workshops, will help minority business owners keep pace with the Internets rapidly changing business applications.

These efforts are in addition to the daily work Microsoft does to implement employee development and recruitment programs that not only attract new faces, but also help current minority employees advance. Microsofts efforts are assisted by its ongoing partnerships with organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers and the National Black MBA Association.

Preparing the Next Generation for the High Tech Workforce

At the national and local levels, Microsoft is taking action to ensure that young people — especially those in underserved areas — have the training and support they need to compete in the 21 st centurys high-tech environment.

Microsoft and its employees have long recognized the importance of the communities in which they work and live and since 1983 have been leaders in the high-tech industry in making corporate contributions.

“Microsoft believes that people can do amazing things if they have the tools and resources,”
said Bruce Brooks, Microsoft director of Community Affairs.

We are committed to empowering people — especially those who are underserved and disadvantaged — to discover and achieve their goals. In the last fiscal year, Microsoft gave more than $34.3 million in cash and $200 million in software to nearly 5,000 nonprofit organizations, including libraries, colleges, universities and civic groups.”

Corporate contributions support programs like “Working Connections” through the American Association of Community Colleges, which has provided IT training programs across the United States for the last four years. Other commitments range from scholarship efforts with the United Negro College Fund, Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to support of a special Smithsonian exhibit displaying the history and beauty of African dance.

In December, Microsoft announced a $100 million donation — one of the largest donations in corporate history — to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to expand access to technology for 3.3 million young people, many of whom are from minority areas. The program, “Club Tech,” provides young people with the opportunity to use technology to learn, explore and create. Microsoft also supported Baltimore Mayor Martin OMalleys efforts to enhance technology in the citys 183 public schools by donating $50,000 worth of software, including Encarta Africana, an award-winning encyclopedia focusing on black history and culture.

Microsoft employees are also active in engaging young people to consider high-tech careers. On the Redmond campus each year, Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) hosts a minority student day to give local youth the opportunity to see the latest technology firsthand and experience what its like to be an engineer or software programmer.

“The goal of BAM Student Minority Day (BMSD) is to bridge the digital divide in the minority community,” said Andrea Redd, program manager at Microsoft. “By hosting BMSD in Redmond, we are able to expose minority students to Microsoft technology and African Americans at Microsoft working in the technology field. That was the goal of BMSD 10 years ago and that remains the goal today.”

By working with others and sharing resources, innovative technology and ideas, Microsoft makes efforts daily to find sustainable solutions that help make real and lasting differences in peoples lives. More important, however, Microsofts efforts have helped to empower talented individuals — from aspiring engineers to beginning entrepreneurs — to create their own success stories.

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