Immokalee Foundation selected as part of Microsoft’s national Techspark program

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

Microsoft has invested in southwest Florida.

The Immokalee Foundation was selected as part of the company’s national Techspark program to grow economic opportunity in our area.

Kids and computers go together, but not in every neighborhood, not in every community.

Microsoft wants to change that. The goal is to show kids the possibilities.

“All they need is an opportunity to be exposed to something,” said Noemi Perez, CEO of The Immokalee Foundation. “Once they find their interests, that then creates a passion within them where they want to go in and just learn more about it.”

Perez said that this partnership is part of a two year pilot program.

Thanks to matching funds from the Collier County Industrial Authority, 157 students will attend a four week program.

“They will not only have an opportunity to look into the curriculum, but also to meet with certain individuals within our community that are really working in that field, and learn about the future opportunities that they will have, on top of what type of education they will need to get to that field of study that they’re interested in,” Perez said.

Dean Kagdi, from FGCU’s Whitaker College of Engineering, told WINK News that the school will also get involved in the program, providing shadowing and mentoring to students.

The hope is that this kind of assistance will also spark job creation and innovation.

“We are really talking about advanced skills that require application of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity, and virtual reality and augmented reality, and all the other things that are going to become the mainstay if they’re not already there yet, right,” Kagdi said.

Microsoft calls its program Techspark, and since its launch in 2017, the company said it has worked in eight communities, helping 55,000 people and creating 3,300 jobs.

The Techspark program will begin in January and will cover sixth, seventh and eight-grade students. Each student will receive 4 weeks of digital skills training.

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