MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Non-profit groups in Kentucky and the 12 other Appalachian states can share a $2 million software donation from Microsoft aimed at training the region's work force to compete.
The Appalachian Regional Commission announced Microsoft's second economic-development donation to the region in six years Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Senators from two states that already have received grants, West Virginia and Mississippi, were on hand for the event.
"As we look for solutions to help people find work, lack of education remains a barrier for many," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. "A person looking for a job is much more likely to be successful if they have the labor skills that meet employers' needs."
Each state may get up to $150,000 in software. Any non-profit organization may apply for the Microsoft grants, but ARC said it would focus on groups that provide technology training and work-force development.
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Two grants have been made to Future Generations Graduate School in West Virginia and the Create Foundation in Mississippi.
The Create Foundation will use the money to improve its work-force development program and manage charitable contributions.
Future Generations will use the money to equip community computer centers with $70,000 worth of new software. It has centers at volunteer fire stations in 28 counties, thanks to a previous $4.4 million federal stimulus grant.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who has pushed to expand broadband access for years, called current software "absolutely essential" in today's economy.
Future Generations will also work with Mission West Virginia, which used a 2005 grant from Microsoft to put computer centers in churches across the state.