Monday, August 24, 2020

Mayor Sylvester Turner and Microsoft Expand Digital Alliance with City of Houston

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Monday that the city of Houston has expanded its groundbreaking digital alliance with Microsoft to innovate in big data, artificial intelligence and the digital economy. Microsoft brings to Houston “Accelerate,” a new program designed to address economic recovery through skilling both underserved communities and re-skilling the many Americans impacted by COVID-19.

The collaboration is intended to create new economic opportunity, close equity and digital skills gaps, and prepare a workforce for the 21st century.

“Microsoft launched the Accelerate program at a time when closing the digital divide has never been more important,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “We’re thrilled to be joining Mayor Turner and an impressive group of partners in this effort to expand access to in-demand digital skills—and close digital skills gaps widened by COVID-19—through Accelerate: Houston.”

The mayor was joined by Jacky Wright, chief digital officer, Microsoft U.S., to announce details of the Houston Innovation Alliance and Accelerate: Houston. Other partners supporting the alliance include The Ion, NASA, Kino-Eye Center, Upskill Houston, University of Houston College of Technology and Space Center Houston.

“More than two years ago, I announced our first transformative alliance with Microsoft — the first of its kind in the United States,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Today, I am pleased to say we are taking another leap toward strengthening Houston’s global standing as a center for innovation and technology.”

Through coordination with corporate partners, K-12 school systems and higher education providers, Microsoft is developing a holistic plan for professional development/support and addressing the equity gap across the community:
  • For transitioning members of the workforce and/or local veterans, the company will offer digital literacy workshops, empowerment programs and other development training with industry experts through LinkedIn Learning, to help prepare them for opportunities in new technologies and increase digital skills training.
  • For students, the company will bring the Microsoft Imagine Academy Learning Paths to Houston schools, with content and industry certifications mapped to student skill development. Additional programming includes LinkedIn workshops, DigiCamps and DigiGirlz camps, bringing young people together to plan their future, help them identify the skills they need to reach their goals, and connect to programs and technology that will help them get there.
  • For K-16 education providers, Microsoft and partners will bring digital literacy training and Modern Workplace training focused on digital skills for educators.
 “The University of Houston College of Technology and Microsoft are together providing students, professionals, businesses, and the Houston community with the resources to manage, create, communicate, and commercialize meaningfully unique opportunities,” said Dean Anthony Ambler, University of Houston College of Technology. “As game changers, the College of Technology and Microsoft transcend beyond the classroom with industry-recognized certifications, workshops, and degree programs that support workforce creation and upskilling while reinforcing a culture of innovation. These complementing activities champion the Houston community as adept practitioners and mentors in proven disciplines that apply ingenuity and technology to solve problems, improve lives, and enhance the economy.”

Through their joint efforts, Microsoft and the city of Houston will work to advance civic innovation and smart city initiatives, economic development and recovery, and digital skilling for workforce and youth.