VA Ready Receives Community Empowerment Fund Award from Microsoft to Help Reskill Virginians for In-Demand Jobs

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Grant will help overcome Covid-19-fueled employment disruption by retraining VA residents

“As an industry led initiative, our Business Partners are key to achieving our mission. Microsoft’s support will go a long way toward helping our fellow Virginians get back on their feet and back to work.” -Caren Merrick, CEO of Virginia Ready

Virginia Ready recently received a $30,000 award from the Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund, which will be used to help thousands of Virginians whose employment has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic access the short-term training needed to get back to work in today's most in-demand jobs.

Created to help Virginians retrain for careers in technology, healthcare, and other skilled trades, most VA Ready credential training programs can be completed within 6-12 weeks. Students can also take pre-approved courses at any of the Virginia Community College System’s (VCCS) 23 community colleges through FastForward, a short-term workforce training program for high-demand jobs across the state.

“As an industry led initiative, our Business Partners are key to achieving our mission,” said Caren Merrick, CEO of VA Ready. “Microsoft’s support will go a long way toward helping our fellow Virginians get back on their feet and back to work.”

The Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund, created and managed by Microsoft’s Datacenter Community Development team, is designed to support community-led and prioritized projects, increase collaboration among contributors and award recipients, and develop ecosystems that help deliver common community priorities. Through this approach, Microsoft hopes to achieve long-term, systemic, and holistic outcomes in the communities in which it operates.

“Microsoft is pleased to partner with VA Ready and support the Virginia Ready Initiative in helping out-of-work Virginians retrain and reenter the workforce,” said Jim Hanna, Director of Datacenter Sustainability and Community Lead for Northern Virginia. “With the growing impacts of COVID-19, The Microsoft Community Empowerment Fund awards are a critical way for the company and our employees to strengthen our communities during this time of need.”

Any Virginian who has experienced employment disruption as a result of the pandemic is eligible to participate by enrolling in one of VA Ready’s 30 approved FastForward credential courses offered through the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). To date, more than 440 Virginians are already taking part in the program, with 26 having already completed, earned their credential, received their $1,000 Credential Achievement Award, and moved on to full-time employment and a brighter future.

For more information about the VA Ready Initiative or to apply for the program, visit https://vaready.org/

About the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready)

VA Ready is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization launched in June 2020 to retrain Virginians impacted by the economic hardships created by COVID-19. VA Ready's mission is to help thousands of Virginians whose employment has been disrupted by the pandemic to access the short-term training needed to get back to work in today's most in-demand jobs. With its Public-Private-Partnership design, VA Ready brings together the FastForward career training program offered by the Virginia Community College System's (VCCS) 23 colleges and more than 22 business partners who employ millions of Virginians. VA Ready Scholars have access to 30 healthcare, technology and other skilled training programs; learn the skills needed to secure one of today's most in-demand positions; receive $1,000 upon credential completion; and are connected to VA Ready's business partners for interview opportunities. Learn more at: http://www.vaready.org

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Nicole Tidei
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