Posted by Pamela Passman 
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

Today we are announcing the latest expansion of our Elevate America program, which aims to provide people across the United States with the technology skills they need to find employment. The Elevate America community initiative will focus on partnering with nonprofits to support job training programs and initiatives in local communities across the country.

Elevate America was launched in February 2009 and since that time we have worked with 32 states and the District of Columbia to distribute over 800,000 training and certification vouchers. In March we announced the Elevate America Veterans initiative which is focusing on building a nationwide coalition to help U.S. veterans and their spouses transition from military to civilian employment. Through this work we have already learned a lot about the complexity of the unemployment issue and the importance of technology skills to those trying to enter or renter the workforce.

The consistent theme across all our Elevate America programs is the necessity for partnership to be at the very core of addressing what is a complex and difficult issue. We acknowledge that while we can bring resources and expertise to bear, ultimately, to be successful, we need the knowledge, reach and skills of partner organizations in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Our Elevate America community initiative builds on a long standing commitment to working with nonprofits on the provision of technology skills training. Since 2003 we have worked in partnership with thousands of nonprofit organizations and reached more than 27 million people.

Today we are issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for nonprofits that have demonstrated expertise in providing employment services with a focus on technology skills training, job placement and related support to connect individuals to sustainable jobs and careers. Following the selection process we are committing $4 million in cash, $6 million worth of software and training curriculum to support the successful applicants over the next two years.

Organizations participating in the RFP must be an IRS registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and their partner organizations may include: workforce agencies, community colleges, labor organizations, and other nonprofit organizations.

As part of the community initiative we want to work with organizations that are focused on the needs of women and young workers (ages 18-25) who have a greater risk of unemployment and low paying jobs than the broader population. For example, almost 60% of all low wage workers are female compared to 44% of higher wage workers . Young workers, from 18 to 25 years of age, are at a disproportionate disadvantage in the workforce when compared to the broader population. In July 2010, for the first time since records began being kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than half of this age group was employed.

We will continue to keep you updated on Elevate America and share some of the lessons we’re learning along the way.