Honoring Black history and culture through our work

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Microsoft Tech Community - Latest Blogs - .

A group of three people performing a ribbon cutting ceremony.A group of three people performing a ribbon cutting ceremony.

February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans to the nation and the world. At Microsoft, we are committed to empowering Black and African American communities through technology, education, and social impact. That's why we launched the Nonprofit Tech Acceleration (NTA) for Black and African American Communities program in 2020—to provide digital skills, technology solutions, and funding to nonprofits that serve these communities.


We want to highlight some of our initiatives and partnerships that our program has supported this month, to showcase how we are honoring Black history and culture through our work.


Partnering with National Football League (NFL) and Inspire Change


Inspire Change is the NFL's social justice initiative aimed at reducing barriers to opportunity, particularly in communities of color, which makes them an ideal partner alongside Microsoft’s Racial Equity Initiative. One of our mutual goals is to expose youth to career pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The NFL and NTA uplifted the nonprofit Barbershop Books, which aims to create child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops along with an online literacy assessment. This month, we helped them bring their program to more barbershops throughout the Las Vegas region where they aim to reach over 1,000 children and families. We’re also providing them with software licenses and engineering support to enhance their operations and impact.


During the NFL’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Combine week in New Orleans, NTA spearheaded an intensive AI workshop led by nonprofit partner, STEM NOLA at Dillard University. Dillard is an HBCU in New Orleans, and like many HBCU institutions, they have previously lacked the resources to best prepare their students for careers in STEM. Over 50 students leveraged Microsoft Surface devices to train their first machine learning models powered by Azure cognitive services, such as computer vision.


Addressing the diversity gap in the gaming industry


We believe that gaming and eSports can be powerful tools to engage and inspire youth to learn and create. With gaming and eSports now bigger than the movie industry globally, this presents a viable career pathway for many. Also, skills in this industry are easily transferable to more legacy technology roles.


NTA debuted a gaming and eSports lab at the Downtown Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club where youth will get introduced to coding through Minecraft Education Edition. The lab is equipped with Xbox consoles, Surface laptops, as well as curriculum and training materials. The lab will also host tournaments and events to foster a sense of community and fun among the participants.


A group of men and women stand together wearing Code Elocs t-shirts.A group of men and women stand together wearing Code Elocs t-shirts.

Partnering with Sterling Legacy Fund and HBCUs


We announced a partnership with the nonprofit Sterling Legacy Fund, which will provide needed digital transformation to HBCUs addressing inequities in healthcare access. Starting with Hampton University’s Cancer and Research Center, we will provide them with cloud services, devices, training, and funding, to help them improve their research capabilities and outcomes. We will also work with other HBCUs in the future to support their similar missions and visions.


Release of an HBCU legacy curriculum powered by Community Training


We want to celebrate and honor the rich history and culture of HBCUs and to expose youth to their legacy and impact. We released an HBCU legacy curriculum powered by Community Training-a platform that enables nonprofits to create and deliver online courses. The curriculum covers topics, such as the origins and evolution of HBCUs, their contributions to various fields and movements, and their notable alumni and leaders. The curriculum is available for free to any nonprofit that wants to use it for their programs and audiences.


Partnering with RISE and National Basketball Association (NBA)


We also want to equip HBCU students with the skills and tools they need to succeed in the professional world. We collaborated with the nonprofit, RISE to deliver LinkedIn personal branding workshops to HBCU students participating in an internship with the NBA during the All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. The workshops helped the students create and optimize their LinkedIn profiles, network with potential employers and mentors, and showcase their talents and achievements.


Partnership with Blacks at Microsoft Tri-State Chapter


We partnered with Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) Tri-State Chapter to host a nonprofit town hall with close to 200 attendees at our Times Square office in New York. During this event, nonprofits learned of our resources to increase the impact of their missions and invited them to join our new Nonprofit Community platform. The Nonprofit Community is a space where nonprofits can connect with each other, access training and events, and share best practices and stories.


These are just some of the examples of how we are honoring Black History Month and beyond through our Nonprofit Tech Acceleration program. We are proud of the work we have done so far, and we are excited for the future.


We invite you to join us in celebrating and empowering Black and African American communities by learning more about our program, our partners, and our initiatives, and by getting involved in any way you can. Together, we can make a difference. Learn more or register your nonprofit at aka.ms/NTA.


A group of students and adults stand together in front of a banner reading, “Can you dream?"A group of students and adults stand together in front of a banner reading, “Can you dream?"

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