Microsoft Technology Leadership Grants Strengthen Nonprofits

SEATTLE, Oct. 16, 2001 — Today, Microsoft Community Affairs announced the eight recipients of the 2001 Technology Leadership Grants, which total more than US$7.6 million in software. The grants are available to large nonprofit organizations with the capacity to support their mission with the use of information technology.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined Hugh Price, President and CEO of the National Urban League (NUL), at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle for the announcement. The National Urban League (NUL), based in New York City, is receiving the largest of the grants, — more than $2.7 million in software. The organization is the oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African-Americans to achieve economic, academic and racial equality. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined Hugh Price, President and CEO of the National Urban League, at the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle for the announcement.

“We’re trying to help bridge the digital divide,” says Zoraya Lee-Hamlin, director of Economic Self-Sufficiency and Technology Initiatives at the NUL. “A significant number of people in our community do not have access to technology. This grant will give us the opportunity to help these people with their personal and professional development, and usher them into the digital age.”

According to Lee-Hamlin, the grant will enable the NUL and its 111 affiliates throughout the country to offer greater access and training in the most current software applications to participants at Urban League tech centers — called Digital Campuses — that offer an array of services, ranging from the operation of pre-schools to youth development programs to training for adults.

“This grant is very significant for us, and will benefit not only the programs offered at the Digital Campuses, but also staff and administration,” Lee-Hamlin says. “We’ll be able to upgrade and standardize our affiliates with the national office, with all of us running the most current Microsoft software.”

The NUL received its first Microsoft Technology Leadership Grant of $2.5 million in software in 1997, a time when the Digital Campuses initiative had just begun. Now, there are over 90 Digital Campuses nationwide, with a goal to establish a technology center at every one of its affiliates by the year 2006. Lee-Hamlin says that they are likely to beat that goal by three years, and cites the uniformity of the software they use as one of the keys to achieving their vision.

“The National Urban League grant is a great example of how information technology can benefit a nonprofit organization and the people it helps,” says Bruce Brooks, director of Community Affairs at Microsoft. “When you provide people with the resources they need, they can accomplish great things.”

Since 1997, the NUL has helped over 2 million people each year. Interest in technology is the only prerequisite to participating in a program sponsored by a Digital Campus, regardless of employment status or age. The Digital Campuses offer a range of training programs — most of which are free of charge — ranging from IT administration to Web page design. The NUL Web site has additional information.

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