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During a budget address to the State Legislature, Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced a digital alliance with Microsoft to help improve access to digital skills programming and promote rural broadband access. Microsoft will collaborate with the Green Mountain State on several initiatives to support connectivity for rural residents, as well as digital skills and youth involvement in computer science education.

“We appreciate Microsoft’s commitment to helping us overcome the broadband gap in rural Vermont, contributing to a better quality of life and greater economic opportunity,” said Vermont Governor Phil Scott. “This new partnership also supports our priority of growing Vermont’s economy by equipping students and adults with the digital skills needed to create new innovations, pursue high-wage, high-growth careers or start their own businesses.”

The initiatives enabled by this digital alliance with Vermont are organized and supported by Microsoft technology experts and partners and will include:

Broadband access

Currently, more than 19 million people living in rural areas of the United States lack access to a broadband connection. Without a proper broadband connection, these communities can’t start or run a modern business, access telemedicine, take an online class, digitally transform their farm or research a school project online. Microsoft believes this is an urgent national problem that can and must be solved. In 2017, we launched the Microsoft Airband Initiative, a five-year commitment to bring broadband access to two million people by 2022– a goal we recently raised to three million people. Microsoft is beginning work with RTO Wireless in Maine, New York and Vermont; the digital alliance encompasses this work with a specific focus on Vermont.

The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program suggests that modern economic growth in the U.S. is directly tied to advancing technological capabilities. With that understanding in mind, Microsoft  will host a one-day salon discussion to share the latest Brookings research on the state of broadband access and actionable insights on its link to economic growth.

Computer science education

Microsoft will partner with Governor Scott’s administration to help expand access to computer science education for all students.  One first step will be to highlight the importance of allowing computer science to satisfy high school graduation requirements.  Further, Microsoft will make program staff available to begin a conversation about the feasibility and interest of piloting the Microsoft TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program in Vermont with committed local partners over the coming years.

Digital skills

The new partnership with Vermont will offer an array of Microsoft programs to improve digital skills and computer science education, that could include:

  • YouthSpark, which provides increased access to technology education and job skills training for young people, focusing on computer science, especially among underserved youth, young women, and racial and ethnic minorities.
  • YouthSpark in Schools, a dynamic day of professional learning for Career Technical Education (CTE) teachers, classroom teachers in STEM subjects, school and district technology officers and administrators, youth-focused non-government organizations and others from Vermont school districts.
  • DigiGirlz, which gives middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about technology careers, connect with STEM industry professionals and Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer science workshops.
  • DigiCamps, a series of sessions for youth to provide the same experience of developing and learning about cutting-edge technologies as DigiGirlz but including both girls and boys.
  • Imagine Academy, which gives students and educators the curricula and certifications they need to succeed in a tech-driven economy.

Microsoft has 15 active digital alliances with state and local governments across the nation. These agreements increase access to Microsoft programs that support citizens, with an emphasis on K-20 education, student entrepreneurs, software startups and job seekers. They also help expand the local economy through increased digital literacy, computer science education and workforce development.

For additional details about the Vermont digital alliance, please see the press release from the Office of Governor Phil Scott. Find out how Microsoft is empowering state and local government to transform, modernize, innovate, and deliver better citizen services, please visit the Microsoft in Government website.

Resources:

Learn more about Microsoft’s Airband Initiative to connect rural America.

Gain new insights into how to get started with digital skills.

See how cities and states are transforming with intelligent technology