Microsoft establishes new digital alliance with state of Texas to expand education and skilling opportunities

Tech company will support Texas’ technology advancement and invest in workforce development, student programming and education as part of “Accelerate” initiative


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DALLAS – Oct. 22, 2020 – Microsoft Corp., in collaboration with the state of Texas, announced new programs and events to address the need for digital and technical skills in the workforce. The digital alliance is intended to create new economic opportunity, close equity and digital skills gaps, and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.

“The expansion of our Accelerate program to the state of Texas is an unparalleled opportunity to speed up the local economic recovery and bring critical digital skills to Texans,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “We hope this program will be a transformative opportunity for students, teachers, workers and the entire community.”

The effort, in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency, will provide digital skills through the Microsoft Accelerate initiative, designed to address economic recovery through skilling both underserved communities and re-skilling Americans impacted by COVID-19. In August, the company announced Accelerate: Houston and now continues its work in Texas with an expanded commitment statewide. The effort represents the continued implementation across the U.S. 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.

Other partners supporting the alliance include STEMuli, The Ion, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD), Bell, Big Thought, Stedman Graham and Associates, Tribute to Valor, National Math and Science Initiative, University of Houston College of Technology, Dallas Regional Chamber, and Irving Chamber of Commerce.

“Education was the launching pad that took me from a low-income Houston community to medical school, NASA, space and beyond,” said Dr. Bernard Harris, CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative and former NASA astronaut. “As a native Texan and lifelong STEM advocate, I’m grateful for Microsoft’s investment in this initiative. NMSI is committed to ensuring digital access, digital literacy and high-quality STEM content for all teachers and students across Texas and our great nation, and we’re excited to work with Microsoft, the TEA, DISD, NASA and other partners.”

Microsoft and the Texas Education Agency are collaborating on a range of digital skills programs across the state to address a variety of needs including STEM engagement and talent pipeline growth for students in K-12; professional development for K-16 educators, thought leaders and the education NGO ecosystem; and workforce development for high school and college students, as well as parents seeking opportunities to enhance their technical skills and business acumen.

“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.”


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New opportunities for students

As a result of this collaboration, students in Texas will be able to take advantage of new opportunities such as:

  • 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.
  • The first statewide Imagine Cup Junior 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 AI for Good initiatives further encourage them to brainstorm ideas to solve social, cultural and environmental issues.

Over the next two years, there will be additional events and programs for students:

  • 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.

“Bell is transforming the way people, goods and data move,” said Chad Sparks, director, Strategic Campaigns at Bell. “We are excited to partner with Microsoft to build upon that vision and develop the future work force collaborating on STEM events like the Vertical Robotics Competition and the AerOS Early Access Hackathon.”

Development programs for educators

This year brought new challenges for educators, who also need support to bridge digital skills gaps and new training to adapt and adopt digital technologies, methodologies and mindsets. As part of this alliance, Microsoft has also committed to several new opportunities for educators:

  • Expanding TEALS in Texas. Microsoft will increase its recruitment efforts to secure more volunteers and identify new schools to participate in TEALS. Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) is a Microsoft Philanthropies program that connects classroom teachers with tech-industry volunteers to create sustainable computer science (CS) programs. Volunteers support teachers as they learn to teach CS independently over time.
  • Innovative Educator Academy Series. Microsoft Innovative Educator programs will acknowledge global educator visionaries using technology to pave the way for better learning to host a series of quarterly lectures and workshops on educational transformation.
  • Leadership Educator Accelerate Program (LEAP). A 12-week immersive program that will introduce LEAP Fellows to key drivers and trends influencing the future of work and equip participants with tools and strategies to enhance the classroom experience for students and instructors.

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