Alderman Willie Cochran Announces Strategic Digital Alliance With Microsoft and the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation
Unique City of Chicago Alliance Benefits Community Residents with Digital Proficiency Education, School-based Program Support and Capacity-Building for Small Businesses
By Eleana Elan
Defender Contributing Writer
A wide-ranging strategic alliance with Microsoft Corportion that will bring increased technology access and computer-skills training to several community residents was recently announced by Chicago Alderman Willie Cochran. The alliance will provide new resources for teachers and students and implement development initiatives aimed at helping small businesses in the Englewood, Woodlawn and Washington Park communities grow with technology.
As part of the City of Chicago’s first Microsoft Digital Alliance, the Greater Englewood CDC through their EnglewoodBlue.com Technology Education and Business Development Center will deliver digital literacy hands-on workshops and technology tools to help ensure that program participants can develop the digital skills required for many of today’s best career opportunities. Additionally, Chicago Public Schools will work with Microsoft to provide Microsoft’s IT Academy curriculum content at the community level to support teachers with increased access to technology resources to bolster their ability to teach vital technological skills effectively.
“There has been a gap in our community regarding digital literacy for too long. We want to provide essential technical skills to prepare our workforce and we believe this relationship with Microsoft will assist us in that goal.” -Glen Fulton, Executive Director Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation.
“By combining the numerous digital and ed-tech assets of Microsoft with our unique state-of-the-art technology infrastructure we will deliver high impact programming to our community stakeholders. This relationship will empower more community residents, businesses and organizations to realize their full potential,” said Bruce Montgomery, Chief Technology Officer, Greater Englewood CDC/EnglewoodBlue.
“Digital skills are more important than ever to every facet of daily life — work, school or community involvement,” said Shelley Stern Grach, Director of Civic Engagement, Microsoft. “Microsoft is proud to be part of the Greater Englewood CDC’s and Englewood Blue’s work to grow new businesses, give young people the skills to pursue technology careers, and help everyone in the community be more productive and empowered in their daily lives.”
Economic Impact and Job Creation
The Digital Alliance will initially focus on two aspects of job creation within the Greater Englewood CDC service area: workforce development and capacity-building for Englewood-based small businesses. Greater Englewood CDC will identify candidates with gaps in digital literacy and close those gaps by exposing residents to digital basics through the Microsoft IT Academy Digital Proficiency Curriculum.
The EnglewoodBlue.com education team and Microsoft will also provide residents with education on Microsoft’s latest productivity software including Office 365, SharePoint and Azure Cloud Services. Upon completion of our technology workforce education programs, many participants will receive a certificates of technology proficiency that can be added to their résumés in pursuit of career opportunities.
Microsoft will also provide significant support and engagement as well as business-development resources to businesses connected to the EnglewoodBlue.com business accelerator. These community based firms will receive access to Microsoft product groups, technical training, sales-pipeline support and marketing strategy and material development services. Such investments, usually reserved for larger organizations, can significantly help minority business enterprises (MBE/WBE/DBE) to accelerate the growth of their businesses..
For educators and students of the Greater Englewood, Washington Park and Woodlawn communities, the City of Chicago-Greater Englewood-Microsoft Digital Alliance will provide resources to bolster professional development for educators and broaden access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning opportunities throughout the community. Working with Chicago Public Schools, City College of Chicago and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, the relationship will have two core components at the start.
Microsoft Imagine – Teachers, Students and Parents will also gain exposure to the growing career opportunities in STEM fields as part of this Digital Alliance. Local students and families will attend community based technology exposure events such as Microsoft DigiGirlz and Minority Student Days where they will take on technology challenges through small-group work, interact with Microsoft executives and learn about technology-related careers to prepare them early of lifelong learning and success.
Youth Spark Hub – resources are designed to inspire youth about the full spectrum of computing skills, ranging from digital literacy to computer science engineering. In addition to providing access to the Microsoft Imagine tools, the YouthSpark Hub brings together opportunities to participate in activities such as YouthSpark Live and our own EnglewoodBlue.com Youth Business Development Incubator.
About Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation/EnglewoodBlue.com
The Greater Englewood CDC is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation whose mission is to “rebrand, rebuild and revitalize” the Greater Englewood Community by building on community assets and facilitating sustainable public/private collaborations with residents and key community development stakeholders. EnglewoodBlue.com is a small business accelerator and workforce development IT Training center. It is physically located and operated by the Greater Englewood CDC. Our mission is to offer start-up, early stage, small businesses resources and IT training to accelerate the development entrepreneurial ventures and advance their job creation efforts.
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