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).
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. The partnership will result in the creation of several new statewide educational programs.
DigiGirlz, one such program will teach high school girls about careers in technology and provides hands-on computer and technology workshops. As CivSource has previously reported, programs aimed at helping girls get involved in technology early on can overcome some barriers to entry into the field later in life.
Two additional programs include: 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 a third program, will offers students professional level developer and design tools to help them begin building technology solutions, and will be accessible to North Dakota students at no cost.
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.
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. “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.