Erie Neighborhood House Receives Elevate America Community Initiative Grant from Microsoft


February 3, 2011 | Chicago, IL

Grant will fund program to help underserved populations in Chicago’s west side find jobs.

CHICAGO — Feb. 3, 2011 — Erie Neighborhood House today announced that Microsoft Corp. is awarding $250,000 over two years in cash as well as the software needed to help the organization offer technology skills training and job placement services to the low-income, under-employed and unemployed community. Erie House is one of twelve organizations selected nationwide.

In today’s technology driven economy, finding a job without strong technology skills and during a tough economic downturn can be extremely difficult. To help ease this burden, Erie House is partnering with Microsoft through the company’s Elevate America community initiative, to provide technology access and skills training to help people find employment. Erie House is placing a special focus on underserved communities, including low-income, primarily Latino women and youth who have greater barriers to employment and re-employment than the broader population.

Selected through a competitive funding process, this grant will help Erie House fund a comprehensive set of resources to help people be successful in today’s workplace such as career counseling, technology skills training, job placement and additional support services such as childcare and transportation. Founded in 1870, Erie Neighborhood House’s mission is to promote a just and inclusive society by strengthening low-income, primarily Latino families through skill-building, access to critical resources, advocacy and collaborative action.

"Erie House is honored to be one of twelve organizations across the U.S. chosen by Microsoft for the Elevate America Community Initiative. We have already had success with our Pathways to Success workforce bridge program,” shares Celena Roldan, Executive Director of Erie House. "One story comes to mind: Basilia Vargas, single mother of four. She had applied for training in the West Town industrial corridor but was denied based on her low English and Math scores. When she enrolled in Pathways to Success, she was really determined to increase to increase her English language skills and gain vocational skills so she could better provide for her family. After completing Erie's manufacturing bridge class and computer literacy classes in the summer of 2009, she advanced to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) training at our community partner Jane Addams Resource Corporation. Manufacturing has historically been a male dominated industry, but Basilia did not lose her determination. When Basilia graduated, Rolex Corporation offered her a job as a machine operator, earning $17.10 per hour which is higher than the average entry level CNC operator. With this new support from Microsoft, Erie will be able to impact even more people like Basilia.”

Erie House has demonstrated how our approach to providing people with technology and job training resources can be scaled at the end of the two years, with the goal of creating replicable models to expand to additional communities.

“Too many Americans don’t have the technology skills that many jobs today require,” said Pamela Passman, corporate vice president of Global Corporate Affairs at Microsoft. “Erie House has demonstrated how they can reach some of the most underserved people in our society, and we’re honored to partner with them to provide training and job support to the people that need it most.”

"This is a big deal for our community,” says 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno. “I have seen how effective Erie House is in serving our community residents. We in Chicago are very excited that Erie House has received this generous two-year grant, and I am confident that they will be able to connect the underserved with technology, and job skills training and employment in the fields of manufacturing and health care."

Since 2003, Microsoft has been committed to providing technology skills training to people across the country through its Unlimited Potential program, which includes Elevate America. In partnership with thousands of nonprofit organizations including Erie House, the company has reached more than 27 million people. More information on Elevate America is available at More information on Erie Neighborhood House is available at

Erie Neighborhood House (ENH) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that reaches 18,000 people annually, empowering them to build better lives while strengthening their communities. ENH offers Chicago’s Latinx and diverse low-income residents a range of community-based education programs. With forward-thinking leadership, ENH is committed to continuing its legacy of cost effective, award-winning programming. For more information, please visit

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