Buffalo, NY – TechBuffalo announced today that it will be working with Microsoft TechSpark to foster inclusive economic opportunity, job creation, and innovation in the Western New York region. Microsoft and TechBuffalo will collaborate to strengthen and support local organizations that strive to create equitable economic opportunity through digital skilling.
TechBuffalo convenes and coordinates across employers, trainers, and community stakeholders to develop and support collaborative strategies that grow the local tech workforce. These efforts will be supported by a Microsoft grant to fund a TechSpark Community Engagement Fellow. The Fellow will spearhead local efforts and collaborate with Western New York partners to continue fostering and supporting equitable access to skills training and careers in the tech industry. A community partner-focused roundtable is being planned for the fall.
This Fellowship represents the first time TechSpark has worked in the Western New York region.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Microsoft as a TechSpark Community Engagement Fellow,” said Sarah Tanbakuchi, TechBuffalo President & CEO. “The ability to access and learn from the TechSpark national network and bring those learnings and resources to Western New York will create a meaningful and positive impact for the WNY community.”
Economic development leaders and elected officials also expressed excitement about Thursday’s announcement:
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Congratulations to TechBuffalo for being selected to work with Microsoft’s National TechSpark Program as a Community Engagement Fellow. Empire State Development supports TechBuffalo as part of our Buffalo-Niagara Talent Initiative, which is helping to grow an inclusive tech workforce through employer-driven training, career on-ramps, wraparound services, and strategies that leverage regional opportunities and address pressing industry needs.”
“Congratulations to TechBuffalo and thank you to Microsoft for providing a TechSpark Community Engagement Fellow. Data shows that if you live east of Main St. in the City of Buffalo, there’s a 25-45% chance that households lack internet access, that percentage is even higher if residents don’t have a smartphone. Internet access is practically a requirement nowadays to do homework, apply for a job, work remotely, and stay current with news and information. I believe that working with TechBuffalo, Microsoft, its TechSpark Community Engagement Fellow, and other advocates will supplement our efforts to help close the existing digital divide and competitive disadvantage for Eastside households, small businesses, and community-based organizations,” commented New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
New York State Assemblymember Patrick Burke said, “As a member of the NYS Assembly Science and Technology Committee, I’m aware of how technology is changing the way we live and work. We must prepare for the economic and career opportunities that are on the horizon. TechBuffalo is at the forefront of this cause in WNY and the partnership with Microsoft’s TechSpark program is a welcome opportunity for the people of Buffalo and WNY.”
“Closing the digital divide is an important step toward increasing opportunities in today’s tech-driven economy, ” said New York State Assemblymember Karen McMahon. “I applaud Microsoft for supporting training programs like those at TechBuffalo.”
New York State Assemblymember Monica Wallace said, “Microsoft TechSpark’s decision to invest in TechBuffalo is exciting news for businesses and residents in Western New York. TechSpark’s expertise and resources will prove invaluable in advancing TechBuffalo’s mission to build a stronger and more inclusive technology workforce in our region. We are grateful to Microsoft and its TechSpark Program for its commitment to ensuring our community has the skilled workforce needed to help it grow and thrive.”
“Since we launched TechSpark in 2017, we’ve helped communities secure more than $125 million in funding and helped create thousands of jobs,” said Kate Behncken, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Philanthropies. “By expanding TechSpark to all 50 states, we hope to continue our hyperlocal, partner-driven work to help communities realize the potential of technology and foster greater economic opportunity.”
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the expansion of its TechSpark program to tackle digital inclusion in four focus areas: digital access, digital skills, computer science education, and digital transformation with local-based organizations. Since its inception in 2017, TechSpark has helped its eight communities secure more than $125 million in community funding, skill 55,000 people, and create 3,300 jobs. Read more about Microsoft TechSpark here.