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State News: Virginia to team up with Microsoft on tech training for displaced workers
Event: JMU to host acclaimed poet
Capitol Hill: Warner introduces health-care reform 


State News: Virginia to team up with Microsoft on tech training for displaced workers

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced on Monday that Virginia will join forces with Microsoft in an innovative public-private partnership to provide free technology training to displaced workers. Through the Microsoft Elevate America program, the software and technology giant will work with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to distribute 11,250 vouchers for technology training and certification. Elevate America also provides a wide variety of other free resources on its website including basic skills training and career resources to find internships and jobs.

“Virginia already has one of the best workforce development systems in the country—this program means we’ll have another exciting tool at our disposal,” said Gov. Kaine. “This partnership will provide thousands of Virginians with the technology skills they need to attain and sustain employment as the economy recovers. At the same time, this critical training will ensure Virginia’s workforce emerges from this economic downturn stronger than ever, and ready to compete on a global level.”

Virginia will receive 5,000 vouchers for intermediate level online training, 5,000 vouchers for Microsoft business certification exams, and 1,250 vouchers for advanced technical professional online training:

· Each intermediate level training voucher can be used for training on Microsoft Windows or one of the products in the Microsoft Office Suite.

· Each testing voucher can be used for a Microsoft business certification exam, which when passed signifies a student is Microsoft certified in either Windows Vista or a specific Microsoft Office product.

· Advanced level vouchers are redeemable for training for individuals on technical professional career tracks in areas such as web development or database management.

In its role as Microsoft’s “designated partner” for administration of Elevate America in Virginia, VCCS will work with the Department of Education and Virginia’s workforce centers to distribute 1,500 training vouchers, 1,500 testing vouchers, and 400 advanced level vouchers each. VCCS will retain the remaining vouchers for distribution as needed. Vouchers will be distributed to citizens across the state on a first come, first served basis starting today.

“Today, more than ever, people are looking for an opportunity to gain new, portable skills and training that will help them in their careers or as they look for their next job,” said Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of VCCS. “Virginia’s community colleges form a natural network for partnering with Microsoft to provide the technology training individuals need to gain a competitive edge.”

Gov. Kaine made Monday’s announcement at the Capital Region Workforce One-Stop Center in south Richmond along with representatives from Microsoft, VCCS, and members of the Virginia Workforce Network.

“Elevate America is designed to equip people with the crucial skills necessary to get a job in today’s competitive workplace,” said Linda Zecher, Microsoft corporate vice president of worldwide public sector. “We believe this type of public-private partnership will play an important role in rebuilding Virginia’s—and the nation’s—economy by offering immediate access to basic technology literacy and skills training to ultimately improve recipients’ employment prospects.”

Virginia’s participation in the Microsoft’s Elevate America program makes it the second state to take part in this groundbreaking initiative to prepare workers for the demands of a 21st century economy. Washington was the first state to take part in the initiative.

Microsoft announced the “Elevate America” program at the National Governor’s Conference in February. The initiative is expected to provide up to 1 million vouchers nationwide for Microsoft e-Learning courses and select Microsoft certification exams at no or low cost to recipients. The program is a part of Microsoft’s overall efforts to provide technology training for up to 2 million people during the next three years.

Office locations and additional information about obtaining the vouchers are available online at: www.vccs.edu/workforce. To learn more about the Elevate America program, visit: www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica.


Event: JMU to host acclaimed poet

The Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University will host a reading by Pulitzer Prize-nominated and Emmy award-winning poet Lucille Clifton at 7 p.m., Friday, June 19, in Ballroom C of the Festival Conference and Student Center.

The free, public event concludes a weeklong seminar on the former Maryland Poet Laureate’s work.

“Lucille Clifton is such an important figure in poetry because she speaks in a language that is lucid, passionate and that is so in touch with human nature. She’s also a poet who has suffered reality, and because of that she has a certain compassion for women who are suffering and who are frail,” said Dr. Joanne Gabbin, executive director of Furious Flower. “She believes in the importance of history. She’s really a launching pad for understanding life.”

The seminar will bring together more than 40 teachers and scholars to examine Clifton’s lifetime of contributions to American poetry. The Furious Flower Poetry Center has hosted two of the nation’s largest conferences on African American literature, in 1994 and 2004. The Center also hosts visiting poets, sponsors poetry workshops for emerging poets, holds an annual poetry camp for children in the community and produces scholarly texts, videos and DVDs on African American poetry.

“I hope the teachers take away a wonderful lesson plan to teach poetry. One of our goals is to help teachers teach poetry and have enough materials to teach a unit on African American poetry,” Gabbin said. “But I really want them to take away inspiration. Even if they don’t teach Lucille Clifton’s poetry, I hope they will be inspired to read her poetry.”

Clifton, whose collection “Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980” (1987) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, also is the author of “Generations: A Memoir” (1976), more than 16 books for children and several other collections of poetry, including “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000,” which won the National Book Award. She received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2007 for her lifetime achievements.

For more information, visit http://www.jmu.edu/furiousflower/.


Capitol Hill: Warner introduces health-care reform

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has introduced health reform legislation that will strengthen the quality and availability of counseling, support services and care management for patients and families coping with life-limiting illnesses. The Warner legislation addresses inadequate access to often unorganized care planning services that can result in unnecessary tests, treatments and hospitalizations – medical services that more informed individuals might not otherwise choose.

Sen. Warner’s legislation, which is expected to be incorporated into comprehensive health reform legislation currently being considered by Congress, has been endorsed by several leading organizations, including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, among others. A complete list is provided below.

“This legislation will not deny health care to patients and families that want it,” Warner said. “But I firmly believe that any comprehensive health reform should include more information, counseling and resources that will allow patients, their families, their caregivers and others to consider and discuss decisions about when and how long to pursue treatments at the end of life.”

“Currently, we leave it to families to resolve these extraordinarily difficult decisions, often in moments of crisis, with very little guidance or planning,” Warner said. “Giving patients and their families the tools to make more informed choices about their options will increase the patient’s quality of life, provide better support for family caregivers, and prevent unnecessary and expensive health care expenditures.”

The legislation creates the advanced illness care management benefit within Medicare, which will promote more thoughtful discussion and counseling about the care options available for those with a life expectancy of 18 months or less. It also would establish a comprehensive public education and outreach campaign to encourage advanced care planning to enhance the patient’s quality of life.

By some estimates, 27 percent of Medicare costs occur in the final year of life. Studies suggest that the nationwide application of the enhanced care planning tools included in Sen. Warner’s legislation could reduce Medicare spending by an estimated $15 billion over 10 years, even as it provides more structured information and planning services that will better support the patient’s wishes and improve their quality of life.

Sen. Warner co-founded the Virginia Health Care Foundation, administered a state Medicaid program, and enacted landmark legislation improving state protections for those in adult care during his term as Virginia Governor. He acknowledged that personal experience has shaped his thinking on these issues: Sen. Warner’s mother has experienced a long and difficult struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout his public career, Warner has urged patients and their families to consult with their health care providers, counselors, religious advisors and others when making decisions about care options and quality of life issues.



Have a story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.

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