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Microsoft Joins the Trust of the Americas Announces Partnership to Help At-Risk Youth in the Eastern Caribbean

  June 6, 2006

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (June 6, 2006) – Microsoft and the Trust for the Americas, a nonprofit affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS), today announced plans for an initiative that will support the needs of Eastern Caribbean states by addressing the growing problem of at-risk youth.

Hopes for future economic growth in the region rest with a new generation of workers – two-thirds of the population in the Caribbean region is under 30 – who must be technically prepared to meet the demands of a knowledge economy. However, as a result of a lack of opportunities and limited access to training, young people in the region are vulnerable to risks such as substance abuse, sexual diseases, crime and violence.

To address this need, the Trust for the Americas – with the support of Microsoft and the OAS – proposes to expand its successful technology-based job training and placement program, POETA (Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas). This program currently operates in more than 12 countries in the hemisphere, and the plan is to expand it to the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The project will focus on building technical skills among young people so that they can compete in potential growth industries in the Caribbean region such as telecommunications, telemarketing and the modern hospitality industry.

“The POETA program and particularly this expansion into the Caribbean, reflect my vision to see the OAS actively engaging the private sector to promote development and justice in the hemisphere. Without the invaluable contributions of companies like Microsoft, this progress would not be possible. It is this sense of corporate responsibility that will lead Latin America and the Caribbean into a new era of growth and progress”, says the OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.

“We’re proud of our partnership with the OAS and the Trust for the Americas, and we’re committed to developing and expanding these initiatives to help people pursue their dreams and advance their possibilities in today’s knowledge economy,” said Eugenio Beaufrand, Vice President of Microsoft for Latin America and the Caribbean.

With its support of the POETA program and other OAS initiatives such as e-government, the promotion of engineering education, and the Education Portal of the Americas, Microsoft has become a vital OAS partner in promoting development in the hemisphere.

The POETA partnership, in particular, leverages resources at every level of government and civil society to bring practical job-ready technology skills to at-risk communities in more than 10 countries. By the end of 2006, there will be more than 25 POETA technology and job training centers in operation across the region.


About the Trust for the Americas
The Trust for the Americas is a nonprofit corporation incorporated under section 501 (c) (3) of the tax code, and affiliated with the OAS pursuant to a Cooperative Agreement entered by the parties on September 18, 1998. The Trust relies heavily on the technical expertise of the OAS and its technical units in carrying out its programs.

About Micorsoft´s Unlimitted Potential Initiative
One of Microsoft’s flagship digital inclusion initiatives is the Unlimited Potential (UP) program. Launched in 2003, UP goes beyond technology access; it aids global workforce development by partnering with nonprofit organizations to provide needed support to community technology learning centers around the world. Microsoft believes that information and communications technologies provide powerful tools that can help people, communities and even entire countries realize their full potential. Since May 2003, Microsoft has brought grants for more than $152 million in cash and software to different programs in 95 countries.



For more information, please contact:
Andrea Álvarez, aalvarez@oas.org, (202) 458-3747, OEA/TRUST Américas
Britt Peemoller, v-brpeem@microsoft.com, (305) 329-4206, Porter Novelli

Reference: TRUST-GA01