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Eight Alabama Communities Awarded Microsoft-ARC "Unlimited Potential" Software Grants

November 2005


MUSCLE SHOALS, ALABAMA, November 30, 2005—U.S. Representative Bud Cramer and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope today announced "Unlimited Potential" software grants totaling $200,000 by Microsoft Corporation for nonprofit organizations in north Alabama that provide workforce development and educational opportunities in their communities. The grants are part of a $2 million commitment by Microsoft to support ARC's initiative to expand the use of technology and telecommunications as tools for economic and community development.

Cramer and Pope were joined by Dustin Brighton, Microsoft district government affairs manager for the southeast United States, and local economic development and education leaders in announcing the donation at Northwest-Shoals Community College. The college, a grant recipient, hosted the announcement in the Career Services Center, which will use the software to advance the Northwest-Shoals Youth Success Program to help prepare young people for the transition to the workplace.

"New technologies have become a vital part of our everyday lives, and it is important that our children and our workforce have a solid foundation and strong understanding of these technologies," said Cramer. "I sincerely thank Microsoft and ARC for this generous donation."

"In north Alabama, we have made a strong commitment to enhancing the talent pool for current and potential employers to choose from, and these software grants will be a strong shot in the arm for northwest Alabama," Cramer added. "They will help ensure that our children and their teachers continue to have the resources they need to challenge themselves in their studies and prepare themselves for the future."

The eight Alabama Unlimited Potential software grant recipients announced today serve as key centers for economic and community development in their service areas across Appalachian Alabama. Microsoft, ARC's state and local partners, the governor's office, and Alabama local development districts worked together to identify and provide technical assistance to the grant recipients. ARC staff is working with a number of organizations to complete the grant application process and expects to announce the complete list of Alabama grant recipients before the end of the year.

The Microsoft Unlimited Potential software grants are targeted to organizations dedicated to increasing computer literacy and providing education and workforce training in rural and underserved communities. ARC has worked through its network of state and local partners to bring technology resources like these to rural and underserved areas as tools for economic development.

"Like water and sewer services and roads, technology is part of the infrastructure essential for communities to compete in the world economy," said Pope. "Our work with Microsoft is a model for the kind of public-private partnerships that are vital in bringing technology and advanced telecommunications services and skills to Appalachian communities."

The grant recipients were able to select from the most current Microsoft software titles that best further their mission and goals. Grant recipients engaged in community education and training will also receive the Microsoft Unlimited Potential IT Skills training curriculum, a resource to enable individuals to use technology effectively to help themselves and their communities.

"Microsoft's mission has always been to help people realize their potential, no matter what their geographic or economic circumstances," said Brighton. "Our hope is that through our products, technology expertise, and initiatives like this partnership with ARC and Congressman Cramer, we can improve education and learning, create opportunities for individuals and communities, and raise the standard of living across the country."

Through the Unlimited Potential software grant initiative, Microsoft is dedicated to improving lifelong learning opportunities for underserved youth and adults by providing technology resources through community-based learning centers.

"This investment by Microsoft will help the people of Appalachia to be competitive in the knowledge economy for many years to come," added Pope.

Microsoft-ARC Unlimited Potential software grant recipients in Alabama as of 11/30/2005

Calhoun County
Gadsden State Community College (Anniston) will use the donation in its GED program. $1,197

Clay County
Clay County Resource Center (Lineville) will use the donation in its educational programs. $19,773

Colbert County
Northwest-Shoals Community College (Muscle Shoals) will use the donation in its workforce development and Youth Success programs. $19,396

Hale County
HERO Family Resource Center (Greensboro) will use the donation to link together all the buildings that provide services. $2,491

Lauderdale County
Florence City Schools (Florence) will use the donation in its computer lab training courses. $18,315

Pickens County
North Alabama Skills Training Consortium (Carrollton) will use the donation in its workforce development programs. $21,063

Shelby County
CITY Skills Training Consortium (Pelham) will use the donation in its educational programs for workforce development and job readiness in distressed areas of central Alabama counties. $25,512

Tuscaloosa County
Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa) will use the donation in its workforce development training programs. $22,339