On Wednesday, Microsoft Corp. announced “Accelerate,” a new program designed to address economic recovery through both skilling underserved communities and re-skilling the many Americans impacted by COVID-19. Accelerate: Atlanta is the first of many city-focused digital skills and employment partnerships designed to upskill and increase employability.
Accelerate: Atlanta is the first U.S. implementation of Microsoft’s global skills initiative, an ambitious plan to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills by the end of the year. The announcement supports the needs of Atlantans impacted by the global pandemic and racial inequities in access to education. With support of the mayor’s office and additional public and private partnerships, the initiative aims to accelerate economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19, address the needs of people of underserved communities who require digital skills to stay competitive, and empower them to seize the employment opportunities of the future. Expanding access to digital skills is a critical first step in improving employability to help build local economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.
Accelerate: Atlanta brings together civic, learning and corporate partners to provide skills across the spectrum of digital proficiency to build a more inclusive workforce for all.
- Empower underserved communities to close the digital divide in the growing workforce.
- Provide digital skills to promote economic uplift for Atlanta’s populations with the highest susceptibility to automation and COVID-19 impact.
- Target the market with existing digital fluency to ensure that they can keep up with the advances in AI and machine learning.
Partners in the coalition include:
- Civic partners: The Office of the Mayor of Atlanta and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
- Learning partners: General Assembly, OpenClassrooms and TechBridge
- Corporate partners: Accenture and others to be announced soon
Microsoft is backing the effort with over $1 million in investments to assist those who need it most, including people with lower income, people with lower educational attainment and racial/ethnic minorities. Atlanta-based nonprofit organizations led by and serving Black/African American communities will be among the 50 such organizations across the United States receiving cash grants to aid in this skills initiative.
“Through Accelerate: Atlanta, Microsoft and its partners will help close the digital divide and ensure there is a place for everyone in our shared future,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “The road to economic recovery must begin with pathways to opportunity that are inclusionary and accessible to all. This is more than an initiative – this is an investment in underserved and underrepresented communities that will equip our residents with skills to compete in a modern workforce, while at the same time grow our middle class.”
“Atlanta is the first U.S. city in our ambitious national investment plan to support our country’s economic recovery,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “We’re delighted that we can bring the breadth of the Microsoft technology ecosystem in partnership with the mayor to provide communities in Atlanta with the digital skills needed for a more equitable, prosperous future.”
“We’re committed to equipping more communities with the digital skills needed to come back from this crisis even stronger through our work with Microsoft,” said Jake Schwartz, CEO and co-founder at General Assembly. “We’ve been proud to be a part of Atlanta’s thriving tech, startup and innovation ecosystem for years, and are thrilled to continue our investment in the community while advancing this important national partnership with the launch of Accelerate: Atlanta.”
“Microsoft shares our commitment to serving underrepresented communities with equity, access and opportunity. We are thrilled to align our mission of ‘breaking the cycle of generational poverty through the innovative use of technology’ with Microsoft and the Atlanta community to close the digital divide, creating real opportunities for those who need it most,” said Nicole Armstrong, CEO of TechBridge.
“I applaud Microsoft and the many partners working to make Accelerate: Atlanta a success. Our region is uniquely situated to benefit from this initiative through our dense innovation community coupled with the presence of noted higher education institutions training our brightest minds,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick. “I am excited to see the progress as Accelerate: Atlanta closes the digital divide and equips the next generation with the in-demand skills needed to succeed.”
“Accenture is committed to advancing equality for all people all the time, and to doing more to drive sustained change in our communities,” said Jimmy Etheredge, Accenture’s CEO for North America. “We are pleased to join Microsoft and our coalition partners in Atlanta to equip more of our citizens with the digital skills they need to be prepared for the jobs of the future – and we look forward to extending the impact of this initiative across the United States.”