Fostering economic opportunity and job creation in Southern Virginia
Rapid advances in technology are creating new opportunities in a digital economy. But these opportunities remain out of reach for many in our community, who often lack the broadband access, digital skills, or other resources needed to succeed. That’s why Microsoft is building local, public-private partnerships to collectively address these issues and help ensure all people can benefit from the opportunities of the digital economy. Together, we can advance a future that is for everyone.
Our approach and impact in Southern Virginia
Microsoft TechSpark is a civic program to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation. In Virginia, we focus our work in Halifax, Charlotte, Lunenburg, Brunswick, and Mecklenburg counties, partnering closely at the local level to understand our community’s unique challenges and opportunities.
Promoting skills and employability
Digital skills are highly sought after by employers today and will be critical in the future, yet many people lack access to high-quality digital skills education. This widens skills gaps and intensifies economic divides. TechSpark helps schools and nonprofits strengthen their ability to offer digital skills and computer science education through grants, technology, curriculum, and our TEALS computer science (“CS”) education program. For example:
- In partnership with Halifax County Public Schools, Mentor Role Model program, and South Hill Library, we’ve launched the first Girls Who Code clubs in the region, connecting girls in grades three through 12 with the opportunity to learn about careers in STEM in a nurturing and supportive environment.
- Together with the Microsoft datacenter team, we’re working with Southside Virginia Community College and Southern Virginia Higher Education Center to provide scholarships and support to the Microsoft Datacenter Academy. This will give students the chance to earn certificates for IT roles such as Data Center Technician and position them to pursue better-paying, skilled jobs.
As technology reshapes the future of work, companies must also change the way they hire and support employees to ensure qualified candidates get matched with the right opportunities and have clear pathways for career advancement. We’re collaborating across sectors to help create a skills-based labor market that connects people and employers in new ways. For example:
- Microsoft and Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporate are partnering to create the SOVA Innovation Hub in Southern Virginia. The Hub will serve as a centralized location to encourage innovation, spur economic opportunity, and offer digital skills education and workforce training. Through local nonprofit partners, training will be offered for K-12 students, young adults, and career-changers, helping people at all stages in their careers gain the skills needed to pursue good-paying, skilled jobs.
Increasing access to broadband
According to FCC data, nearly 25 million Americans still lack access to high-speed broadband, 19 million of which live in rural communities. In Virginia, FCC data indicates broadband is unavailable to more than 750,000 people, hindering their ability to start or run a modern business, access telemedicine, take an online class, or research a school project online. Through our Airband initiative and partnerships with local service providers, we are connecting more communities to broadband and the educational and economic opportunities it provides. For example:
- Our local Microsoft datacenter partnered with Lake Country Internet to offer free community Wi-Fi throughout the town of Boydton.
Helping local organizations thrive through digital transformation
Advances in technology like cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) can bring transformative growth to nonprofits, startups and established companies, but they can also threaten those that don’t have the resources or know-how to adopt and integrate these technologies. We’re helping organizations use the power of technology to streamline operations, develop new lines of business, transform service delivery, and drive economic growth in our communities. For example:
- We worked in partnership with Mentor Role Model Program to improve their digital records management and provide their mentees access to more modern technology to help them succeed in school and work.
Join us: help advance a future that is for everyone
Tackling these issues is complex and demands collective local effort. We’re creating cross-sector partnerships to help spark economic investment, job creation, and opportunity, and we’re just getting started. Learn how you can join us at microsoft.com/TechSpark or by emailing email@example.com.