Bunker Hill Community College

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Bunker Hill Community College Teaches Tech Skills to Unemployed

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bunker Hill Community College this month trained its 250th student in the Microsoft Information Technology Community Connections Program, an innovative partnership with five Boston-area nonprofit organizations to help those under-employed and out of work. A grant from the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program, administered through the Boston Foundation, supports the training.

BHCC coordinates the program with the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción/Villa Victoria, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Jewish Vocational Services,  and MissionSAFE.

“In this difficult economy, it is important for educational institutions to go out to those who need skills.  We can’t just wait for people to come through the door,” said Bogusia Wojciechowska, BHCC Dean of Professional Studies. 

Debby Wiesen, Dean of the Veterans Training School at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, said the program helps clients by simulating workplace experiences.  “One student said he was very impressed with the course not just for the computer skills but also for the group work and the opportunity to present to an audience,” Wiesen said.  Another student  landed a data-entry job after completing the course.  “He acknowledged that without the course, he would not have been qualified for the job,” said Wiesen. 

“The 250 people we have served so far are just the beginning,” said Michael T. Puopolo, chair of the BHCC Computer Information Technology Department, and leader of the program for BHCC.  “Seeing the pride these students take in their new technology skills is one of the most satisfying experiences in my teaching career.” 

BHCC has received $140,000 in two grants since 2007 from the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program, a global effort by Microsoft.  The company, according to its website, works to create relevant training opportunities and innovative tools for people who are underserved by technology.  Since starting the program in 2003, Microsoft has provided more than $315 million in cash and software grants to more than 1,000 community partners like Bunker Hill Community College. 

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About Bunker Hill Community College
Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, enrolling approximately 18,000 students annually. BHCC has two campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea, and a number of other locations throughout the Greater Boston area. BHCC is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. Sixty-five percent of the students are people of color and more than half of BHCC's students are women. The College also enrolls nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.