(LITTLE ROCK, AR) – Philander Smith College, a private historically black liberal arts college located in Little Rock, Arkansas, was recently named a recipient of a $300,000 award from Microsoft to participate in the company’s community skills grant program. The grant will provide unrestricted funds over the next three years to support the institution’s WISE P3 workforce development initiative.

“This recognition by Microsoft amplifies our vision to enhance employability skills as part of our commitment to workforce development in Arkansas. We are so pleased that Philander Smith College has been cited for the demonstrated focus we are placing on information technology, which is such an important aspect of job skills training,” said Roderick L. Smothers Sr., Philander Smith College’s President.

Microsoft’s community skills program is a part of its broader commitment to skills for employability and promoting racial equity in the United States. It is a $15 million investment over three years to accelerate the work of Black- and African American- led nonprofits that provide digital skills and workforce development to Black and African American communities.

The Center for Workforce Innovation and Strategic Economic Public-Private Partnerships (WISE P3) at Philander Smith College has been operational for five years and is spearheaded by Executive Director Glenn Sergeant.

Acknowledging the technology company’s investment, Sergeant said, “With this grant award to WISE P3, Microsoft has taken a giant step towards its recent commitment to put its data, technology, and partnerships to work to help improve the lives of African Americans across the country.” He continued, “Further, it will be instrumental in helping Philander Smith College reach its goal in reducing barriers that have largely kept Black Arkansas from accessing the millions of jobs created in the tech sector in the last decade alone.”

One of the 50 community-based nonprofits to participate in its community skills grant program nationwide, Philander Smith College was the only institution of higher learning to receive an award. In addition to financial support, the College will also receive concierge service from Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact (TSI) team that will include on-demand technical support along with Microsoft software and services.


About the Microsoft Community Skills Program: Microsoft is a technoloy company whose mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft strives to create local opportunities, growth, and impact in every country around the world. Microsoft’s grant strategy aligns with a broader community skills program that is grounded in the idea that everyone should have access to digital skills, and community racial justice work that harnesses technology to rebalance the odds for Black Americans, especially where work is concerned. More information about the Microsoft Community Skills Program can be found at https://news.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2020/09/02/digital-skills-grants-icstars-tech-diversity/.

About Philander Smith College
Philander Smith College, founded in 1877, is one of the oldest private, historically black institutions of higher learning in Arkansas. A four-year liberal arts college, the institution is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and is the only United Negro College Fund member school in the state. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of NCA. For more information, visit www.philander.edu.

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