Microsoft Increases Technology Accessibility to Florida Residents Through its Unlimited Potential Grant Program

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – July 21, 2006 – Daytona Beach and Brevard County, Florida communities now have greater access to technology thanks to three grants from Microsoft.  These grants, worth more than US$295,000 in cash and software, to the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI), WORC/United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Florida (WORC/UCP) and Brevard Workforce Development Board (BWDB) are part of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program, aimed to promote digital inclusion and increase access to technology skills training in communities underserved by technology. 

These most recent donations are in addition to more than $29 million in cash and software provided by the company to organizations in Florida since 2003.  These contributions support technology access, IT skills development and building the IT capacity of nonprofit organizations.

“We are thrilled to support these three Florida-based organizations and applaud their work to improve local workforce readiness and help train their citizens in the use of technology,” said Pamela Passman, vice president of Microsoft’s global corporate affairs.  “Our goal is to broaden digital inclusion so a quarter of a billion people underserved by technology have technology skills by 2010 and can realize their potential through the power of technology.”

“These generous contributions are a tremendous asset in fulfilling Florida’s commitment to provide meaningful educational and employment opportunities to all,” said Toni Jennings, Lieutenant Governor of Florida. “The advanced technology made possible by Microsoft empowers the recipient agencies to open the door to success in ways never before possible by leveling the playing field for people with special needs.  Governor Bush and I are deeply grateful.”

CVI, a Daytona Beach-based organization that assists the visually impaired through mobility training, daily living and computer courses utilizing specialized technology, received a grant worth more than $80,000 in cash and software. This grant will be used to develop a new technology learning center, providing access and services for blind and visually impaired youth and adults.  The facility will help increase knowledge, skills and competency related to computer technology, enhancing potential employability for vocationally oriented visually impaired individuals. 

“We are grateful to Microsoft for its generous donation,” said Ronee Hudson, executive director of CVI.  “As a result of this grant, the new computer center will offer technology training and programs to the hundreds of blind and visually impaired clients we serve, improving day-to-day living and increasing their ability to remain competitive in the workforce.”

WORC /United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Florida in Daytona Beach received more than $95,000 in cash and software.  This organization, an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, strives to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities helping them to achieve “life without limits.”  WORC/UCP will use the grant to enhance its technology center by adding Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant work stations, voice recognition software, reading magnifiers and several larger trackball mouses. The center will focus on providing job readiness and employment by enrolling participants in computer training, assisting participants with job placement according to their individualized career interests and track their job retention.

“With the support of Microsoft, our interactive technology center will address the increasingly poignant need to narrow the technology gap that persists in the disability community,” said Barry Pollack, president and CEO of WORC/UCP.  “Utilizing the benefits of technology, the grant will help increase our clients’ independence and enhance the quality of their lives.”

Brevard Workforce Development Board, focused on improving the quality of the Brevard County community and workforce, received more than $120,000 in cash, software and curriculum through a U.S.-wide partnership with Microsoft and the Department of Labor. The grant is part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the U.S. workforce and boost the ability of the nation’s companies to compete in a global economy.

Throughout the three regional Brevard Job Link locations, instructors will offer Microsoft’s educational seminar, Digital Literacy, to Brevard County residents further improving their workforce readiness as it relates to technology training. The training in Brevard is aimed at, but not limited to, those who have barriers to obtaining employment. This includes mature workers, individuals who are currently unemployed and those in low-wage jobs. BWBD hopes to train at least 500 people in one year, with courses beginning July 27. 

“We are very thankful for this grant and Microsoft’s support in providing IT training to the citizens in our community,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO, BWDB.  “Our goal is to enhance workforce productivity throughout the county, better preparing our community members for job opportunities and improving the economy.”

“Computer knowledge and know-how are vital for those preparing to enter the workforce,” said U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (R-FL).  “By targeting those who are least likely to have access to computer related technology, these grants will help give more Brevardians the ability to compete in today’s job market.  That’s good news for our families and our community.”

All three grants will be announced on July 20, beginning with the BWDB grant at 10 a.m. at the Brevard Job Link office located at Byrd Plaza, 801 Dixon Blvd. in Cocoa.  The CVI and WORC/UCP will celebrate their grants during a joint announcement at 3 p.m. at the WORC/UCP facility, which will take place at 1100 Jimmy Ann Drive in Daytona Beach.  Microsoft’s Pamela Passman will participate in both announcements to the Florida community along with Lisa Rice and George Mikitarian, Board of Director’s Chair, BWDB, Ronee Hudson of CVI and Barry Pollack of WORC/UCP. 

About CVI

Established in 1985, Center for the Visually Impaired has provided comprehensive adjustment services to blind and visually impaired individuals in Volusia, Flagler, Putnam and Brevard counties. CVI offers independent living services that help all blind and visually impaired individuals and their families adjust and cope with vision loss.

About WORC/ United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Florida

WORC/ United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Florida is an affiliate of the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the leading source of information on cerebral palsy and is a pivotal advocate for the rights of persons with any disability. This national organization and its nationwide network of affiliates strive to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every facet of society – from the Web to the workplace, from the classroom to the community. Its mission is to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities which promote choice, increase independence and enhance quality of life. WORC/United Cerebral Palsy of East Central Florida has provided services to individuals with disabilities for over 36 years.

About Brevard Workforce Development Board

Brevard Workforce Development Board (BWDB) is a not-for-profit corporation designated as the administrative entity and grant recipient for workforce investment programs in Brevard County. BWDB focuses on improving the quality of the Brevard County workforce, reducing welfare dependency and enhancing workforce productivity and competitiveness.

About Microsoft

Microsoft and its employees have long recognized the importance of being engaged in supporting communities around the world.   Last year the company donated $61 million in cash and $273 million in software to 9,000 nonprofit organizations.  A majority of the company’s community investments are made in support of Unlimited Potential, a global program that supports community technology centers in IT skills training.  Unlimited Potential is part of the company’s commitment to broaden digital inclusion and enhance workforce development to a quarter of a billion people underserved by technology by 2010.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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