Posted by Andrea L. Taylor 
Director, North America Community Affairs

Earlier today Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer joined Governor Sonny Perdue to launch Elevate America in Georgia, making it the 10th state to join the program. 

Microsoft created Elevate America a year ago to help equip people with the technology skills needed to succeed in the 21st century workplace.   Working in partnership with state governments, Elevate America provides vouchers for free technology training and certification.  Today, over 50 percent of jobs require technology skills, with estimates showing that number reaching 75 percent  in the next decade. 

With unemployment still high in most of the country – including 10.3 percent in Georgia -- programs like Elevate America help displaced workers find jobs, and help those currently employed keep pace with the changing demands of their positions.

Working with states across the U.S., Elevate America can reach a broad number of people in urban and rural areas, regardless of their education level, income or employment status – ensuring that anyone who wants and needs access to these resources can get it.

The most important aspect of Elevate America is the impact the training and certification has on the individuals who participate.  Recently we met with Shamra Coy, a single mother of five from Washington state, to find out more about her experience with Elevate America.

Shamra moved to northeast Washington from California with her husband 17 years ago.  Following a divorce, Shamra found herself a single mom and the sole provider for five children.

Shamra Taylor
Shamra Coy

Shamra pursued additional education and training to help her get the new start she needed,  and became a dedicated volunteer at the Rural Resource Community Action Center, a local nonprofit that provides social services to people in need.  A year later she took a full-time role as a resource development coordinator in the Center’s family support division. Today, Shamra provides training and day-to-day oversight for 50 volunteers who provide much needed assistance to the organization and its clients. 

In the spring of 2009, after Washington became the first state to launch Elevate America, Shamra and several of her clients signed up for the training vouchers.

Thanks to the training she received in Microsoft Word, Shamra gained new skills which are enabling her to communicate more effectively at work and better train the volunteers that are critical to her organization’s success.

Shamra has also been able to share her learnings with her colleagues and volunteers, which has in turn made them more productive.

“Shamra has been a great resource for me. Using what she learned from her Microsoft Word training, she has been able to teach me how to use the program more efficiently,” says Jean Congor, one of the Center’s newly trained volunteers.

In each of the states where Elevate America has launched, the program is  providing people like Shamra with the skills they need to secure new employment or continue to be productive employees in existing jobs, helping ensure our workforce has the skills required for success in the 21st century.

To learn more about the program or to take advantage of the resources available through Elevate America in your state, please visit www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica.