Microsoft taps Randolph County to lead digital skills initiative in Alabama – Made In Alabama

ROANOKE, Alabama — Microsoft Philanthropies is teaming with the Randolph County Economic Development Authority (RCEDA) on a program that helps job seekers and professionals gain new skills for in-demand roles in the digital economy.
The RCEDA received funding from Microsoft Philanthropies to launch the Community Skills Initiative Alabama Region program. A suite of online training and resources, accessed through the Community Skills Initiative Alabama website, offers access to free online training courses that boost digital skills.
The RCEDA said it is one of only nine organizations across the country to get funding for the program.
“I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to do this work,” RCEDA Executive Director Bryant Whaley said. “We’ve already started to partner with local agencies and businesses to ensure not only are our communities made aware of the CSI program but also that everyone has equal access.”
The cornerstone of the Community Skills Initiative is an Up-Skill-A-Thon competition that drives participation in Microsoft’s Skills for Jobs initiative and helps the workforce become more prepared for in-demand roles in the digital economy.
The competition, which runs from Oct. 17 through Nov. 16, will include $10,000 in prize money.
“Today’s job market is driven by in-demand skills, so innovative programs that build those skills at the community level are a must,” said Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.
“It’s great to see that Randolph County is getting to take the lead on a high-impact up-skilling initiative like this.”
In 2020, Microsoft launched a global skills initiative to provide job skills training for unemployed and underemployed workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused massive economic disruptions.
“The RCEDA has not been immune from financial and organizational challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Whaley said. “When Microsoft approached us about a digital skilling grant for non-profits, we jumped at the opportunity to pivot.
“The CSI program will bring valuable online resources to our members, community, and those impacted by COVID-19. The RCEDA is a natural fit to lead this initiative as it aligns with our non-profit mission to bring people and technology resources together,” he added.
The RCEDA will be the program lead for CSI Alabama, and Whaley will serve as the point of contact for the program. In his role with the RCEDA, Whaley has built relationships with regional economic and workforce development stakeholders as well as economic development professionals around the state.
Local employers, teachers, and workforce development agencies are encouraged to share the CSI website as a resource for online training and up-skilling opportunities. Employment agencies can tap into the program and offer the tools to individuals who need new skills for the digital economy.
Comprehensive information can be found at
Microsoft Philanthropies provides grants to nonprofits that are working to increase access to digital skills and computer science education for youth around the globe. The company awards cash grants to nonprofit organizations through an invitation-only application process.
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