Microsoft kicked off a global initiative yesterday which it claims will help disadvantaged individuals develop IT skills through access to community-based technology and learning centres (CTLCs).
The software giant said that it was backing the Unlimited Potential scheme with grants totalling $8.1m in cash and software for 82 non-profit organisations.
Microsoft promised to commit more than $1bn to the initiative over the next five years.
The scheme will kick off with the provision of funding to help CTLCs hire and train technology instructors.
Subsequent phases will offer an online global support network to deliver technology curricula, research, tools and helpdesk services to CTLCs worldwide.
The grants are made through Microsoft's US and international subsidiaries, working with local organisations to identify community-based centres where IT skills training is a primary focus.
Microsoft said that it will also sponsor a global and regional awards programme, which will invest in technology that delivers social benefits.
"Narrowing the 'digital divide' means more than simply providing people with access to technology," said Pamela Passman, head of corporate affairs at Microsoft.
"The real difference is made when people are equipped with the knowledge and education to put that technology to use. Our goal is to make computer literacy a reality for under-served communities worldwide."
The 82 recipients span regions around the world, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Latin America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Mexico and the US.
The current grants total $4.5m in cash and more than $3.6m in software. A complete list of recipients can be found here.
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