The state of North Dakota and Microsoft are forming a statewide Digital Alliance, the first of its kind in the country. The public-private alliance will begin by bringing Microsoft training and resources to North Dakotans in kindergarten through graduate school to increase skills in three main areas: education, employability and entrepreneurship, focusing specifically on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
"In North Dakota, we are creating our future," said Governor Jack Dalrymple. "By advancing literacy and career readiness North Dakotans can take greater advantage of the growing opportunities our state now has to offer. This Digital Alliance will open doors for personal growth and support greater development and entrepreneurship. Microsoft's story in North Dakota is an example of such entrepreneurship, and this alliance connects the resources and the brain power in our workforce in order to build up the next generation for the careers of the future."
Representatives from the state and from Microsoft will actively participate in the Digital Alliance, ensuring that Microsoft technology, training, and resources reach North Dakotans and strengthen skills. Some of the programs within the Digital Alliance include:
DigiGirlz, which teaches high school girls about careers in technology and provides hands-on computer and technology workshops.
IT Academy, an online certification program to help students learn IT skills and be awarded industry-recognized credentials that are helpful in gaining employment in STEM-related fields.
Dream Spark, which offers students professional level developer and design tools to help them begin building technology solutions, will be accessible to North Dakota students at no cost.
The Digital Alliance and associated programs are part of Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative, designed to create millions of opportunities for young people in the United States over the next three years.
The Digital Alliance is an initial three-year commitment projected to impact North Dakotans in every corner of the state. Implementation of the alliance has already begun and will continue more aggressively over this three year period. Programs will be made available in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, adult learning centers, job service centers, and local libraries among others.
Don Morton, site leader, Microsoft Corporation, said, "Through this Digital Alliance, the state of North Dakota and Microsoft will together accelerate and enhance the strong programs already initiated by the Department of Commerce, K-12, and the North Dakota University System. In our state and around the globe people are facing an opportunity divide between those who have access to technology and those who do not. Together we will identify synergies between Microsoft technology and statewide entrepreneurial and STEM initiatives. As we move forward with this Digital Alliance, Microsoft programs such as YouthSpark and BizSpark will empower thousands of young people and business professionals across the state to fully participate in today's digital economy."
"Microsoft is excited to support Governor Dalrymple in making STEM education a priority across the state to ensure students' success and to heighten digital literacy and entrepreneurship skills among North Dakota citizens," said Kristin Rhodes, general manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corporation. "As the workplace demand for technology skills increases, Microsoft's technology training and nationally recognized programs like the Microsoft IT Academy will give students IT skills they need to reach their full potential as they advance to college and career."