Loudoun Freedom Center, Microsoft

On Oct. 29, the Loudoun Freedom Center and Microsoft announced its partnership to create The NoVA DataCenter Academy.

The Loudoun Freedom Center and Microsoft are partnering to create a workforce development program called the Northern Virginia Datacenter Academy which will begin accepting high school students and adults next year, according to the Freedom Center.

As part of the collaboration, the Freedom Center will develop and deploy unique education, certification, and job training opportunities designed to establish a pipeline of IT professionals from underrepresented communities.

Michelle Thomas, local pastor and founder of the Loudoun Freedom Center, said starting next summer, certifications will be offered in Information Technology Fundamentals to high school students as early as 14 years old. NoVa Datacenter Academy is also working to offer electives in Loudoun County Public Schools and opportunities at night for parents to take classes with their high school children.

Thomas said upskilling and reskilling of adult learners, in partnership with Northern Virginia Community College and Southern Virginia Community College in South Hill, Virginia, will start certification classes in January.

“The NoVA Datacenter Academy is the start of something much bigger,” Thomas said in a prepared statement.

“Our partnership with Microsoft is an economic game changer for underrepresented communities who have been marginalized and left out of the information technology space,” she said. “In partnership with the Freedom Technology Group, our plan is to create the pipeline, prepare the students, propel the professionals, and build the first black-owned datacenter campus in Loudoun County, Virginia.”

Thomas said on Friday the program is not only the eighth such academy in the nation, but is also the first operated by a nonprofit organization, as well as the first such African American-owned operation. Others, she said, are attached to higher education or community college.

Microsoft gifted the academy $60,000 to go toward scholarships.

NoVA Datacenter Academy will create IT training programs, provide workforce development opportunities, and hands-on experiential training for students, enabling the attainment of IT certifications and degrees, the release states.

Thomas said through the academy, the Loudoun Freedom Center will be in a position to provide accredited coursework, mentorships, and internships.

African-Americans represent 1.9% of information technology (IT) executive jobs, 7% of IT jobs in the commercial sector and 14% of IT jobs in the government, the release states.

Graduates of the program will be well prepared to earn industry recognized certifications with the skills required to be successful in the Information Technology field.

The collaboration is part of the Microsoft Datacenter Academy program, a workforce development program sponsored by the Microsoft Datacenter Community Development team, according to the release. The program helps build digital skills and provides career pathways in the growing information technology sector for residents of communities in which Microsoft operates data centers.

The partnership provides support in multiple ways to partners that deliver IT training and certification programs, including guidance on curriculum; donations of servers, laptops, and data center equipment for labs; funding of scholarships for underrepresented groups in the IT sector, including women, Black, African American, Hispanic, and Indigenous students; and opportunities for mentorship and work experience in Microsoft data centers.

“Microsoft is proud to collaborate with Loudoun Freedom Center, local educators, and IT partners to ensure students acquire skills and certifications for employment in the growing cloud computing and technology sector,” said Bob Reitinger, lead for the Workforce Development Global Program at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.

“Opening a Loudoun County Microsoft Datacenter Academy will help create more inclusive economic opportunities in Northern Virginia and change lives for the better,” Reitinger said.

“Ongoing education and a commitment to development is a mission throughout Microsoft,” said Anthony Putorek, manager of Workforce Development Global Program at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.

“We must continue investing in education and training to assure everyone has the skills to thrive and participate in the digital economy,” he said.

The academy, which will be located at The Pavillion at Ashburn Station, close to the Ashburn Metro station, will welcome students early next year, the release states.

As an official CompTIA educational partner, the NoVA Datacenter Academy, equipped with a state-of-the-art data center lab, will offer training classes and the ability to obtain certifications in: IT Fundamentals+, A+, Network+, Security+, and Cloud+.

Further, the academy will also offer onsite STEM-based enrichment classes for children in grades K-5 to alleviate barriers that impede participation for working parents.

Thomas said the Loudoun Freedom Center is partnered with the NAACP Loudoun Branch and Virginia State Conference Regional Branches across Northern Virginia to provide scholarships to its members and communities.

A interactive dialogue session will be held on Dec. 16, at The North Star School located at 715 Childrens Center Rd SW in Leesburg beginning at 6 p.m.

(2) comments


How about mandatory drug tests?


Is skin color used to judge anything at school including admission?

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