FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9/28/2009
Marcelyn Love 217-558-1542

 Only 5 Weeks Left for Illinoisans to Get Free Computer Classes

State of Illinois offering Microsoft Elevate America vouchers via numerous channels

CHICAGO � Illinoisans interested in improving their computer skills can take free computer classes and exams thanks to the Microsoft Elevate America program. With these newly developed skills, individuals will be able to access greater job opportunities and better compete in the workplace, according to the state�s top commerce official.

�During a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and searching for jobs, it is important that people be equipped with the tools they need to succeed,� said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley.  �These classes are an important component in helping Illinois workers acquire the computer skills they need in order to move forward in their careers or prepare for a new career.� 

Through October 31, individuals can request a voucher to take free online courses, including intermediate-level Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007, as well as advanced-level training for IT professionals. Vouchers must be activated before October 31 but individuals have up to a year to complete coursework. Certification testing is also available if completed by October 31.  The program is made possible through a public-private partnership between the State of Illinois and the Microsoft Corporation. Elevate America also provides students with career resources to find internships and permanent jobs.

The state commissioned Lumity, a Chicago nonprofit committed to closing the digital divide by offering other nonprofits technology and financial services, to help distribute Elevate America vouchers. To contact Lumity for a voucher, e-mail elevateamerica@lumity.org or call 312-372-4872 ext. 119.

Other networks are offering vouchers to their clients or students at more than 200 locations throughout Illinois:

� Illinois workNet Centers
� Community Technology Centers, including the Illinois and City of Chicago Digital Excellence network and affiliated non-profit agencies
� Community Action Agencies
� High School Career and Technical Education programs approved by the Illinois State Board of Education
� The Illinois Community College System Career and Technical Education and Adult Education Network

To learn more about Microsoft Elevate America, visit: www.illinoisworknet.com or call the DCEO business hotline at 1-800-252-2923.