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Microsoft focus shifts

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By Todd Cohen

Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., is shifting the focus of its corporate philanthropy.

The company, which has targeted its giving on helping disadvantaged people get access to technology, aims to spend $250 million a year over five years to equip people with tech skills through community-based technology and learning centers.

The first round of grants in the initiative, known as Unlimited Potential, or UP, will provide 82 nonprofits in the United States and abroad with $8.1 million in cash and software to train tech instructors.

Microsoft in the future aims to develop an online global network to deliver to tech centers a tech curriculum it will develop, provide research on online learning, offer support services for tech centers and make grants of up to $50,000 to support development of innovative technology solutions, says Cathy MacCaul, a Microsoft communications manager.

Microsoft, which divides its support about evenly between groups in the United States and abroad, also plans to devote a bigger share of its philanthropy to groups abroad, she says.

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