Microsoft is not new to the conversation when it comes to discussing solutions to systemic racism and serving under-represented communities. In the past, the company has partnered with organizations across the United States to work on criminal justice improvements and build technology solutions to help judges improve fairness in legal, financial obligations.
Earlier this year, Microsoft recommitted to addressing racial injustice, inequity, and improving under-represented groups’ livelihood through its platform, services, and partnerships. The company plans to combat this issue through its free Nonprofit Tech Acceleration (NTA) for Black and African American Communities program.
Microsoft launched the NTA program in October 2020 to provide access to technical support for nonprofits who support Black and African American communities at no cost. Recently, the Los Angeles Sentinel spoke with the NTA program manager, Darrell Booker, to hear more about the application process and the benefits of the program.
According to Microsoft, the purpose of the NTA program is to provide U.S. nonprofits who support people of color with licenses, discounts, and consulting services and to help businesses implement technology solutions that will solve their needs.
“The purpose is pretty simple, I like to call it ‘leveling the playing field in technology’ by ensuring the smallest nonprofits in every neighborhood across the country has at a minimum the basic of tools to ensure they can operate more effectively and efficiently,” said Booker.
“Oftentimes, we in the Black community, have a misconception that enterprise-level technologies are out of our reach, so instead we sometimes rely on a hodgepodge of software and processes that on the surface seem like they are the best just because they are free.”
Booker’s vision for the program can be summed up in the program’s mantra, “build for the future and not for the now.”
“That’s the message I want these nonprofits to hear,” he said.
“You may be only serving a couple dozen people in your community today, but you are one grant away from being able to increase your reach four, six, or ten times so prepare yourself now.”
Currently, the program works with organizations at all stages, including startup nonprofits.
Some of the services included in the program are:
- Access to yearly $3500USD Azure credits to host websites and store data in the cloud.
- Assistance setting up an Office 365 environment for email and documents using ten donated premium licenses.
- Advice on specific solutions such as collaborating, chatting, and video conferencing using Teams.
- Training delivery tools and learning paths to drive a more significant impact.
According to Booker, “[NTA will work] alongside the Justice Reform team in providing digital transformations for those nonprofits committed to justice reform in the Black and African American community.”
Nonprofits who participate in the program will receive technology grants, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 Business Premium licenses.
Also, nonprofits will work with one of Microsoft’s partners for continued support and innovation.
“Microsoft 365 Business Premium alone is a lifesaver for some organizations, where paying for it is somewhat of a barrier, and we jumpstart them using it. Not only do we make sure they can activate and use it, but that they can use it effectively,” said Booker.
For entrepreneurs who are still on the fence about taking advantage of the free program, here’s what Booker had to say: “What do you have to lose? You don’t want free enterprise technologies? You don’t want a specialist to help you implement? But more importantly, you don’t want to have a greater impact [on] your mission?”
Aside from the NTA program, Microsoft offers additional services for nonprofits.
“We have an exciting offer coming in December for our Power Platform,” said Booker.
“Power Apps is our low no-code platform that allows nonprofits to create apps and websites without the need for a developer. [This] can be instrumental for data collecting and sharing, which is a key component in transformational change. Stay tuned for details!”
To learn more about the NTA program or to apply, complete the quick registration at http://aka.ms/MicrosoftCommunities.