Accelerate: New York Aimed at Tackling Unemployment in the Metropolitan Area With New Opportunities for Underserved Communities

Coalition of Microsoft, The Estée Lauder Companies, KPMG and others establishes digital skills programs and hiring partnerships to increase employability for diverse, local talent in the tri-state area

Microsoft Corp., in collaboration with corporate, learning and community partners, announced the launch of Accelerate: New York. The program will provide a pathway from skilling to employment for community members in the tri-state area to bridge the digital skills divide and route people to diverse and equitable hiring and re-employment opportunities. Job seekers in all five boroughs of New York CityConnecticut and New Jersey can start their journey toward their career reinvigoration today, with programs, events and opportunities available now at

“Like so many regions across the country, the tri-state area is building its economy back in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S. “Alongside our civic, learning and corporate partners, we’re hopeful that the Accelerate program can help expand economic opportunity and provide the skills needed to support an inclusive, equitable recovery.”

As digital capabilities rapidly progress, digital skills across local communities must keep pace. The Accelerate program brings together a unique set of public and private partnerships specific to the region to unlock new economic opportunities and create a local pipeline that empowers individuals both to learn skills for high-demand jobs and support connection to hiring opportunities. Accelerate is fundamentally different from other skilling initiatives as the model is based on an ecosystem partnership that provides upskilling, re-skilling and cross-skilling for in-demand jobs and a path to employment that supports their careers long term. Together, we are establishing a sustainable system that generates economic and community impact, targeted to community members susceptible to job displacement and unemployment:

  • Community partners, including The Business Council of New York State, Inc., Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), New York City Small Business Services, the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and TechPACT, will help mobilize the community with the deep understanding of the local needs and connecting those who can benefit most from increased digital equity and opportunities to get back to work.
  • Learning partners, including CanCode, General Assembly, Generation USA, NPower, SUNY Attain, Springboard, Upwardly Global and Year Up, will help deliver the curriculum and drive delivery and execution of the skilling and credentials programs to provide tailored digital training that empower job seekers for the next step in their career.
  • Corporate partners, including The Estée Lauder Companies and KPMG, will help scale the skilling agenda and workforce employability with commitments in hiring the newly skilled workforce.
  • Microsoft is providing resources for mobilization globally, free courses across Microsoft Learn and LinkedIn aligned to the top 10 most in demand jobs, and working to help 250,000 companies make a skills-based hire this year with LinkedIn.

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The initiative supports the needs of New York locals impacted by the global pandemic and racial inequities in access to education. The New York metro area, like others, faces an increased unemployment rate, and has a large population tied to COVID-19-impacted industries such as leisure and hospitality, transportation, etc., in the region. Expanding access to digital skills is a critical first step in improving employability to help build local economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses. The Accelerate: New York program is designed to benefit those students and service workers with low digital skills, in addition to those with moderate or high digital skills (the existing digitally fluent population) who could benefit from upskilling and cross-skilling. The result is a broad offering that works to address the needs of people who require digital skills to stay competitive and empower them to seize the employment opportunities of the future.

Accelerate: New York is the latest U.S. implementation of Microsoft’s global skills initiative, an ambitious plan to help people worldwide acquire new digital skills, and furthers recent commitments from Microsoft and LinkedIn to help 250,000 companies make a skills-based hire in 2021.

Microsoft also announced today the expansion of its Airband Initiative to help connect communities of color to affordable high-speed internet with Starry Inc. in New York City and seven other cities in the U.S. To expand digital equity in NYC, we will also partner with human-I-T to offer free and low-cost affordable devices and EveryoneOn to help folks enroll in digital skilling.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Perspectives From Accelerate: New York Member Organizations

“A wide range of digital skills is now required to participate in the 21st century economy, regardless of industry,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and chief executive officer of The Business Council of New York State Inc. “But high-quality digital skills training has not been accessible to many underserved communities, a challenge Microsoft’s Accelerate: New York will work to close the gap on. As the demand for these skills continues to be unrelenting, it is important that companies have a broad and diverse talent pool to recruit from. We are excited to partner with Accelerate: New York to help connect companies with skilled talent from diverse communities.”

“Accelerating the city’s economic recovery and ensuring that no one is left behind will require a massive training and upskilling effort,” said Jessica Walker, president and chief executive officer of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “The Accelerate: New York initiative is exactly the type of public-private partnership we need in this critical moment.”

“We commend Microsoft for taking concrete steps to provide NYCHA residents with the digital skills needed to take advantage of the employment opportunities of the future,” said Sideya Sherman, executive vice president for community engagement and partnerships at NYCHA. “This initiative is a testament to the role that public-private partnerships can play in providing our residents with the career training, technical skills, and overall knowledge base needed to compete in a 21st century economy.”

“Digital skills are key to unlocking economic opportunity,” said John Paul Farmer, chief technology officer of the city of New York. “Yet too many talented and hardworking New Yorkers still face barriers to gaining the types of 21st century skills needed to thrive in an increasingly digital modern workplace. We’re proud to support the Accelerate: New York program, which will help thousands of people at a range of digital skill levels take advantage of new, life-changing job opportunities as the Big Apple builds back stronger than ever.”

New York City’s economic recovery will be fueled by workers equipped with the digital skills necessary to secure and succeed in growing jobs. It will also depend on companies recognizing that qualified innovators don’t just come from elite colleges,” said Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “We applaud Microsoft and other NYC companies sharing their knowledge and opening their doors to hires who can show they have what it takes to succeed in jobs that require digital skills.”

“We are excited and proud to be chosen by Microsoft to partner on its innovative Accelerate: New York initiative. In providing a critical pathway to digital skills training, this program will bring tech careers within reach for underserved individuals who have the aptitude and motivation to succeed,” said Annmarie Lanesey, founder and chief executive officer of CanCode, a nonprofit organization creating a new generation of software coders across New York state. “This is an opportunity to remove the cultural and economic barriers to joining the tech workforce, while also building a vibrant and inclusive tech talent pipeline that supports the needs of businesses and helps spur economic investment and growth.”

“There is a clear and growing need for digital skills in today’s workforce, but the supply and demand that we’re seeing in the labor market is simply not matching up,” said Lisa Lewin, chief executive officer at General Assembly. “Despite the fact that nearly 10 million Americans are still out of work, companies everywhere are scrambling to find the talent they need — oftentimes because there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill in the gaps. To jumpstart our economic recovery, it’s more important than ever that we come together as educators, businesses, policymakers and community leaders to address this head on. General Assembly could not be more excited to collaborate with Microsoft and its partners in NYC to make that possible through our training.”

“Generation USA’s strategic plan to train, support and place thousands at scale into sustainable jobs is lockstep with Accelerate: New York,” said Sean Segal, chief executive officer at Generation USA. “Just since September, we’ve enrolled over 1,300 new trainees and formed new partnerships with nine colleges across the country. And our plan to utilize higher education’s track record of excellence in instruction paired with Generation’s bootcamp-style expertise in support and placement puts us on track to train 6,000 individuals by 2022. It’s crucial partnerships like this that will help the nation start to address the post-pandemic employment challenges both the world and the country face.”

“We need a seismic shift in how we approach preparing people, especially Black and brown young people from under-resourced areas, for jobs in every field, including the tech sector,” said Bertina Ceccarelli, chief executive officer at NPower. “We believe Microsoft’s approach to upskilling and pipeline building from both the community and business community will create the level of system change we need to see throughout New York City and beyond.”

SUNY is proud to join forces with Microsoft and a whole host of community and corporate partners to launch the Accelerate: New York Program. This initiative will help close the skills gap in high demand areas as people from all walks of life seek to rebuild and reimagine their professional lives in a post-pandemic world — a foundational principle of our SUNY For All program. The partnership will help individuals expand their digital skillset at our SUNY ATTAIN labs and Educational Opportunity Centers — arming them with a new Microsoft credential that qualifies them for in-demand jobs right in their communities. It’s up to us —leaders in higher education, business, technology and the public sector — to work together and clear the way for a better future for those who need it most.”

“One of the key gaps exposed during the past year or so is the Aptitude/Opportunity gap-based ZIP code — driven largely by the Digital Divide,” said Earl Newsome, founding member and co-chair at TechPACT/vice president and chief information officer, Cummins Inc. “Awareness, Access and Knowledge — or AAK — is one method to bridge that gap and is a critical part of the TechPACT mission. To move forward, we need to first ensure disadvantaged populations are aware that opportunities like this exist. Once we’ve created this awareness, we need to give access both digitally and physically. It’s important to note that while those points are necessary, they are not sufficient. We must be able to provide knowledge on how to use access to better enable and leverage it to achieve better outcomes, not just for this generation, but the next. Accelerate is a way to action these three steps — and the operative word is action.”

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“It’s rarely contested that education and professional training play a key role in career advancement, and that more equal access to education will contribute to a long-term shift in employability, particularly for currently underrepresented groups in tech,” said Jonathan Heyne, vice president and general manager of data and engineering programs at Springboard. “As major U.S. cities — especially New York City — begin to recover after a very challenging year, Springboard is committed to being a partner in this journey and leveraging our expertise in delivering professional curricula, mentorship and career services that enable career transformation for anyone, anywhere.”

New York City was ground zero of the pandemic in the U.S., with immigrants and communities of color hit especially hard by COVID-19. Microsoft’s Accelerate: New York positions the city to now be the epicenter of an inclusive economic recovery,” said Jina Krause-Vilmar, president and chief executive officer of Upwardly Global. “We’ve long known that workers from underrepresented groups offer skills and resilience to our workforce — all assets needed to catalyze our economic rebound. Upwardly Global is delighted to partner with Microsoft to ensure that immigrants and refugee professionals are positioned to fully contribute to a future-ready workforce.”

“Microsoft’s continued commitment to closing the Opportunity Divide through upskilling, re-skilling and cross-skilling will ensure many more motivated, talented individuals across the New York metro area can launch and advance their careers in high-growth industries,” said Emily Schaffer, managing director of technology at Year Up. “Microsoft has been a tremendous partner to Year Up, hosting over 500 Year Up interns and hiring over 200 Year Up graduates to date. We’re excited to work with them on this initiative and offer even more employment opportunities to our students through Microsoft’s extensive network.”

“At The Estée Lauder Companies, we have a tremendous focus on innovation. We firmly believe that creativity and passion are driven by teams of people that love what they do and are shaped by the shared experiences we have together, as well as the diverse background of each individual. These unique voices and opinions drive our business, fuel our success and enrich our teams,” said Christopher Aidan, vice president, Digital Technology and Engineering, The Estée Lauder Companies. “Microsoft’s Accelerate Program aligns perfectly with our hiring initiatives and the values of The Estée Lauder Companies. It is an honor to be involved with something that provides no-cost training and creates career opportunities for individuals with nontraditional and diverse backgrounds.”

“KPMG believes quality education, rooted in healthy communities, can change the trajectory of someone’s life. Collaborating with Microsoft on such an important initiative aligns with KPMG’s longstanding commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Denis Berry, partner at KPMG LLP, Microsoft US Business Leader. “Providing equitable access to transformational learning opportunities and improving workforce employability will create inclusive diverse teams that drive innovation, strengthen local communities, and enable organizations to adapt and grow.”

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