Microsoft Grant to Accelerate Digital Skills in Minority Communities

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Black- and African-American-led nonprofits have less than a week to apply to be part of a $15 million Microsoft training program aimed at accelerating digital skills in minority communities.

Up to 50 nonprofits will receive up to $100,000 over three years for training purposes, according to information from Microsoft. Nonprofits must submit their applications to join Microsoft’s Community Skills Program before Sept. 30, according to grant organizers.

One of the motivating factors for the initiative is that many jobs lost due to COVID-19 won’t be returning, Microsoft states in its promotional material.

“Programs like this are vital to accelerating the distribution of digital skills,” Microsoft wrote on its program website. “On Wednesday (Sept. 2), Microsoft launched a new community skills grant program, part of the company’s commitment to racial equity and digital skills. It will include a $15 million investment over three years for Black- and African American-led nonprofits that are working to increase skill development and economic opportunities. The program includes grants, leadership development, and technology enablement.”

Aside from providing the names of organization officers, an employer identification number (EIN), and other basic info, applicants will also need to describe  their program’s design, approach to training, and the vision and philosophy of the group, according to an application guidance document from Microsoft.

Microsoft quotes a 2018 World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs Report,” which states that advances in automation and artificial intelligence will increase the need for worker training.

“Among the range of established roles that are set to experience increasing demand in the period up to 2022 are Data Analysts and Scientists, Software and Applications Developers, and Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists, roles that are significantly based on and enhanced by the use of technology,” the report states.

Learn more about Microsoft’s Community Skills Program.