Nonprofit Leaders Work to Close Digital Divide, with Help from Microsoft TechSpark Program

Source: VermontBiz, Technology for Tomorrow

Technology for Tomorrow (T4T) kicked off its Microsoft TechSpark partnership with a Roundtable Conversation on how to address the challenges and opportunities with digital inequality on Dec. 1 at the South Burlington Public Library. Guests included TechSpark U.S. Program Manager Michelle Schuler, Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale, Vermont Community Broadband Board Executive Director Christine Hallquist, and Vermont nonprofit leaders from across the state.

Michelle Schuler, Microsoft TechSpark Manager, addresses nonprofit leaders at the roundtable discussion on addressing digital inequity, hosted by Technology for Tomorrow.

Enrollment is now under way for the free digital literacy courses T4T has designed as part of its partnership with Microsoft TechSpark. Both the 10-week basic digital literacy and 10-week introduction to AI courses will be offered January-March at the South Burlington Public Library. The courses, one for beginners and one for advanced learners, are free. Participants in the two cohorts will come from local nonprofit organizations.

“Technology for Tomorrow and Microsoft TechSpark will help Vermont grow and develop our workforce to meet the critical employment needs of today and tomorrow,” said Sen. Ram Hinsdale.

T4T, a nonprofit based in Williston, is the Vermont organization selected for the inaugural Microsoft TechSpark Fellow Program to foster inclusive economic opportunity, job creation, and innovation in the state.

Microsoft announced the expansion of its TechSpark program earlier this year to tackle digital inclusion in four focus areas: digital access, digital skills, computer science education, and digital transformation with local-based organizations.

“Since we launched TechSpark in 2017, we’ve helped communities secure more than $125 million in funding and helped create thousands of jobs,” said Kate Behncken, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies. “By expanding TechSpark to all 50 states, we hope to continue our hyperlocal, partner-driven work to help communities realize the potential of technology and foster greater economic opportunity.”

“We’re excited to work with Microsoft TechSpark to foster inclusive economic opportunity, job creation, and innovation in the state,” said Vijay Desai, T4T executive director. “This aligns with our mission to bridge the digital divide and create a brighter future for all Vermonters.”

The T4T TechSpark beginners’ course focuses on basic digital literacy, including introductions to Microsoft Outlook and Word, among other tools. The advanced course centers on AI, including how to effectively use and incorporate beneficially into work processes.

South Burlington Public Library partnered with T4T to provide its Digital Lab for the pilot program, making the classes accessible to the community’s nonprofit agencies. 

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