Microsoft's Brad Smith, via LinkedIn, introduced the Microsoft TechSpark program. This national civic program aims to bring digital initiatives to foster economic opportunities and the creation of jobs in six communities (to start) across the United States.
The company partnered closely alongside leaders and communities to create the program, with the ultimate goal of learning about regional challenges and how technology can contribute to local economic growth. Fargo, North Dakota is one of the introductory communities which will first see the benefits of TechSpark, as Microsoft has been working on developing the program in Fargo since the start of the year.
According to Microsoft, this program is coming at a time when "The rapid transformation of our economy is driven in part by the pervasive use of new technology that is creating both challenges and opportunities for communities." Educational leaders and businesses have especially been challenged to keep pace because of this rapid economic transformation. With that so, Microsoft notes five areas which will be covered by TechSpark.
- Digital Transformation Initiatives: These initiatives, pursued in partnership with local institutions, will work with both new start-ups and young companies and will assist established businesses in traditional industries to develop their own digital technology advances.
- Digital Skills and Computer Science Education: We provide cash grants, technology, curriculum and resources to nonprofits, and partner with schools to strengthen their ability to offer digital skills and computer science education to the youth they serve.
- Career Pathways: This program will partner with community colleges and other institutions to expand learning opportunities for adults of all ages,
- Rural Broadband: Through our Rural Airband Initiative, which we announced in July, we’re working to help eliminate the rural broadband gap for the 23.4 million Americans living in rural communities.
- Recognizing the important role that non-profit groups play in addressing local needs, Microsoft Philanthropies will increase its financial and technology support for non-profit groups in each TechSpark region.
Other communities which will be a part of the program include Northeast Wisconsin, and regions in Virginia, Texas, Wyoming, and Washington State. Microsoft has been building TechSpark over the past ten months and two new employees have joined Microsoft to lead the effort. There will also be opportunities for Microsoft employees to volunteer and engage in projects as well, helping make a difference for everyone.Further reading: Microsoft, TechSpark