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Today, Microsoft announced a new alliance with local and state government partners to imbue future and current workers with the digital and technical tools needed to build America’s digital economy.
“Microsoft believes in the power of digital equity,” Raamel Mitchell, Central U.S. Citizenship and Market Development Director for Microsoft, said in a statement released today. “Access to technology and the economic growth it drives should be available to all Texans, particularly those in its most underserved communities.”
Mitchell added that Microsoft is expanding its Accelerate initiative Texas-wide, broadening the program’s reach to the Dallas region (it already launched in Houston) and expanding the firm’s commitment to digital skilling, workforce development, and the STEM talent pipeline.
Expanding digital skills in grades K-12
Microsoft’s news release described a wide range of programs for learners in Texas, including:
—The first statewide Imagine Cup Junior competition. Students ages 13 to 18 will be able to sign up for the opportunity to learn about technology and how it can be used to positively change the world. The competition’s AI for Good initiatives further encourage them to brainstorm ideas to solve social, cultural and environmental issues.
—Microsoft Imagine Academy has been made available to all state of Texas high schools, ensuring students and educators across the state have access to courses and certifications in computer science, IT infrastructure, data science and productivity to build competencies and validate skills for high-demanded technologies.
—Day of Data. The Hacking STEM team is partnering with NASA to bring opportunities for students to explore how data powers our astronauts and space missions. On Nov. 2, they will celebrate 20 years of humans living and working aboard the International Space Station with live events, lesson plans and virtual experiences.
—Future Ready A(i) Forum. A forum providing digital training for future workforce skills with live and on-demand workshops and seminars focused on AI and the Internet of Things in advanced manufacturing, energy transformation, and autonomous vehicle design and development.
—YouthSpark AI and DigiCamps. YouthSpark Live focuses on three key areas for student development—employment, careers and entrepreneurship. Microsoft will partner with the Texas Education Agency, corporate partners and school districts across the state to deliver STEM-focused events for students in middle and high school.
—LinkedIn digital skills training. Microsoft and the state of Texas will implement a LinkedIn digital skills training pilot program throughout the state focused on future-ready skills for high school students. The program will provide access to LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, GitHub Learning Lab, Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job seeking tools to build on data and digital technology.
—Vertical Robotics Competition. Microsoft and the Digital Alliance are collaborating with Bell to bring its robotics competition to high school students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin. The eight-week competition will engage students in a wide range of skills needed for STEM career pathways as they work in teams to assemble a drone kit and design, build and integrate a robotics solution.
“Closing the digital divide is critical to developing the current and future workforce. Our collaboration with Microsoft and the Texas Education Agency is a model for how to apply civic innovation to advance equity in our schools,” said Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Dallas ISD. “Initiatives like Accelerate: Texas and Operation Connectivity are a direct investment in students that will open new pathways for innovation and future growth.”
Other partners supporting the alliance include STEMuli, The Ion, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), Bell, Big Thought, Stedman Graham and Associates, Tribute to Valor, National Math and Science Institute, the Dallas Regional Chamber, and Irving Chamber of Commerce.
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