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Microsoft Partners with ARC to Provide $2 Million in Software to Appalachian Nonprofits to Enhance Job Skills

July 2011


WASHINGTON, July 20, 2011—U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joined Microsoft Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl on Capitol Hill today to announce Microsoft's partnership with ARC to distribute $2 million in software to nonprofit organizations throughout Appalachia. The software will upgrade the capacity of these organizations to train workers in the skills needed to compete more effectively in today's knowledge economy.

This is the second $2 million grant Microsoft has made in the past six years in support of ARC's initiative to expand the use of technology and telecommunications as tools for economic and community development. It comes at a time when nonprofit organizations are especially struggling because of the current economic downturn.

Each of the 13 Appalachian states will receive up to $150,000 in software grants. Two of those grants have already been awarded; one to the Future Generations Graduate School (FGGS) in West Virginia and one to the CREATE Foundation in Mississippi. The grant to FGGS will establish community computer centers and training courses in volunteer fire stations throughout the state. The grant to the CREATE Foundation will support activities related to enhancing its workforce development program, managing charitable contributions, and strengthening community leadership capacity.

Gohl noted that "throughout Appalachia, we have an incredible group of individuals starting, leading, and growing nonprofits." The Microsoft grant is "more than a donation," he said, "it is an important investment in the Region in state-of-the-art technology that will generate a return for the communities served and for the participating nonprofits."

Humphries said, "Once again, Microsoft is proud to support ARC in its mission to expand the use of technology in communities across Appalachia to help drive economic and community development. Microsoft aims to provide people with the tools they need to realize their potential regardless of economic circumstances. Technology, like software, is a key component for driving workforce development and education, and can help individuals and small businesses in rural communities achieve their goals."

Rockefeller said, "Having updated computer software is absolutely essential in our economy, and I sincerely thank ARC and Microsoft for this generous donation. I have long fought to make high-speed Internet access available to all businesses and families in West Virginia, and this announcement helps further that goal both at Future Generations, to help our firefighters protect their communities, and at other organizations that may receive software. I strongly encourage nonprofit organizations to apply for this valuable software."

Wicker said, "As we look for solutions to help people find work, lack of education remains a barrier for many. A person looking for a job is much more likely to be successful if they have the labor skills that meet employers' needs. Through this partnership between Microsoft and the Appalachian Regional Commission, nonprofit organizations will be able to utilize software to train our workforce, making a lasting impact in many of our communities. Their focus on education and training is critical to ensuring our workforce can perform the jobs of the twenty-first century."