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Microsoft grants go to job training programs for veterans and their families

In an effort to fight unemployment among veterans, Microsoft has awarded grants to six organizations that provide job training for vets and their family members. The two-year program, announced this month, involves $2 million in cash and $6 million in Microsoft products, said Andrea Taylor, Community Affairs Director at Microsoft.

The average age of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is about 22. Since most probably went into the military straight out of high school, they often don’t have the skills to make the transition to civilian employment, Taylor said in a phone interview.

“We really can’t afford to let that talent go to waste in our communities,” she said. “I think we have an obligation to help them make that successful transition.”

One of the organizations that received a grant is Per Scholas, a nonprofit in the South Bronx and Miami that provides computer training to low-income communities. The grant will allow the group to hold classes solely for veterans, said Jaclinn Tanney, head of public relations and special giving for the group.

Training will include how to write a resume and build a computer, and veterans will get their computer certification, she said.

“We have seen veterans come through our programs and their stories have been extremely compelling,” Tanney said. “We really learned about some of the challenges that veterans face once they leave the service, whether it is transferring some of their skills to civilian life, whether it’s finding housing or a means for employment or a place for their family to go and get services.”

Veterans Inc., which helps veterans and their families with employment, housing, mental and legal issues, also received a grant. The group will be able to expand its efforts, said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Vin Perrone, the group’s president and chief executive officer.

“Up until now, we’ve had grant money that allows us to work with homeless veterans and veterans that have barriers to employment or are at risk of being homeless,” Perrone said. “We’ve never been able to support family members directly and also those returning reservists or National Guardsmen. This Microsoft grant allows us to touch those people.”

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