Back in September we launched the Elevate America community initiative, a new grant program to support nonprofit organizations offering employment services, including technology skills training and job placement, in local communities across the United States. We had an incredible response with over 300 nonprofits applying for grants through our request for proposal process.
This is the latest extension of Elevate America, which was launched in February 2009 to provide people across the United States with no cost and low cost access to the technology skills they need to find employment. Since the program’s launch we have worked with 32 states and the District of Columbia to distribute nearly 900,000 no cost Microsoft training and certification vouchers. Last year we announced the Elevate America Veterans initiative, which focuses on working with nonprofits to address the specific challenges facing U.S. veterans and their spouses in their transition from military to civilian employment.
It’s clear that the demand for the technology skills people need to prepare for employment is as high as ever. Since 2003, we have worked with nonprofit organizations through our Unlimited Potential initiative to support technology skills training in underserved communities across the United States. These programs have reached more than 27 million people to date and we know the core success factor is partnership. Addressing the issues of skills is about working with organizations with a presence and knowledge of the local community.
Our approach to the selection of Elevate America community initiative grant recipients was to find partners with a strong track record in the provision of training services, who bring fresh thinking to how we address the issue of helping people get into the workforce. We want to support local community models that can be successfully replicated elsewhere and specifically address the needs of women and young workers (ages 18-25) who have greater barriers to employment, as well as the broader population.