MIAMI — April 3, 2008 — At the Government Leaders Forum—Americas in Miami today, Microsoft Corp. announced new and expanded partnerships that will play a strong role in transforming education and creating economic opportunity in Latin America. The company is collaborating with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS) to extend the reach and impact of Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (POETA), a program created by the Trust for the Americas nonprofit affiliate of the Organization of American States to help people with disabilities and at-risk youth across Latin America with technology skills training. Microsoft is also announcing an extended partnership with the Bradesco Foundation to create a School Technology Innovation Center (STIC). The STIC will be focused on the development and research of new educational approaches, classroom solutions and products to improve educational outcomes in Brazil.
“At Microsoft, we’re committed to helping transform education worldwide in order to bring social and economic opportunity to underserved communities around the world,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft. “Local and regional collaboration are a key part of our approach to achieving the scalability necessary to make real progress toward these goals. Partnerships between Microsoft and organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States and the Bradesco Foundation play a vital role in all of our efforts.”
Microsoft and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) from the IDB are announcing their joint effort to support POETA through a $4 million (U.S.) joint fund that will help increase the involvement of the private sector and improve job placement rates for people with disabilities in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru for three years. By the end of 2011, it is expected that the job placement rate will be 40 percent, with 10,000 people with disabilities trained and ready to enter the work force, and more than 700 companies linked to the program.
“Promoting growth and reducing poverty are at the core of our mission in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB president. “By participating in the expansion of the POETA program we hope to encourage many more companies to open up jobs for people from traditionally disadvantaged groups in our region.”
POETA is an IT skills and job training program designed to help people with disabilities and vulnerable groups, initiated by OAS and Microsoft in 2004. It currently supports 50,000 people in 50 centers in 18 countries, offering access to technology and skills training, as well as job placement and micro-enterprise assistance. The new fund will support an expansion to provide improved job placement in existing centers in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru.
“Disability is one of the major causes of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean. The POETA program is a vital contribution from the hemisphere’s development partners to provide social and economic opportunity for this group,” said José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States. “We welcome the extended partnership with IDB and renewed commitment from Microsoft, and look forward to working together in expanding this program and helping those with disabilities gain new opportunities.”
More than 50 million people with disabilities live in the region, constituting about 10 percent of the population.
Bradesco Foundation Partnership
Microsoft recognizes that the power of relevant technology, in conjunction with strong programs and collaborations with industry, government and academic partners, can increase access to education and enable a broad range of teaching methods and learning styles that meet the specific goals and needs of each administrator, teacher and student. Microsoft today also announced a new partnership with Brazil’s Bradesco Foundation to create a School Technology Innovation Center (STIC). The STIC will be focused on the development and research of new educational approaches, classroom solutions and products in traditional and low-cost computing scenarios. The Bradesco Foundation provides free basic education to children and teenagers and professional training to adults from disadvantaged communities through the implementation of technology in schools in underserved areas.
“Microsoft’s visionary commitment of resources and educational expertise will profoundly expand the educational capabilities for Brazilian classrooms,” said Nivaldo Marcusso, technology director of the Bradesco Foundation. “Through this collaboration, we are ensuring the best possible long-term investment in one of our country’s most important resources: our students.”
The mission of the STIC initiative is an extension of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning, to further the implementation of learning environment designs based on local research and innovative tools and practices. The University of Campinas and São Paulo State University will collaborate with Microsoft and the Bradesco Foundation to research technology solutions to effectively harness the power of information and communication technology for school administration, teaching and learning and improve the quality of education in Brazil.
Through Unlimited Potential, Microsoft’s commitment to extend the benefits of technology to everyone, the company is working with local and regional partners to develop relevant, accessible and affordable solutions that leverage the power of technology to empower people to become innovators, to create new businesses, and to teach and inspire others to realize their full potential.
Microsoft offers a full range of education programs and software solutions to enable the transformation of education in Latin America and around the world. Foremost among these is Partners in Learning, a program that since its launch in 2003 has touched the lives of more than 90 million students, teachers, and education policy-makers in 101 countries. Microsoft supports numerous Partners in Learning programs throughout Latin America, where the program has reached more than 58 million students, awarded more than $25 million (U.S.) in grants and software, and provided technology training to more than 1.4 million teachers — 14 percent of all teachers in the region. The Partners in Learning curriculum has been utilized by more than 225,000 school leaders from 19 countries.
About the IDB
The Inter-American Development Bank, the oldest and largest regional bank in the world, is the main source of multilateral financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its loans and grants help finance development projects and support strategies to reduce poverty, expand growth, increase trade and investment, promote regional integration, and foster private sector development and modernization of the State.
The Bradesco Foundation is a Non-Profit institution founded in 1956 by Mr. Amador Aguiar to provide Education and Vocational training for children, teenagers and adults for needy communities throughout Brazil. Today there are 40 schools, in 26 States and in the Federal District, with more than 110,000 students.
About the OAS
The Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the nations of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation on democratic values, defend common interests and debate the major issues facing the region and the world. The OAS is the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and confronting shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs and corruption.
About Unlimited Potential
Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone — to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.
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