CHEYENNE – The Microsoft TechSpark program will support AARP Wyoming’s Senior High Tech program through a $5,000 donation to foster the program’s expansion in Wyoming.

The Senior High Tech program connects high school student service organizations with local residents 50 and older to provide one-on-one tutoring on cellphones and other mobile devices.

“The intergenerational interaction that happens in this program is the best thing that comes out of these events,” AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway said in a news release. “You see the students as the subject matter expert, and when that happens, they really step into that role nicely. But even after the technology tutoring is complete, the conversations continue. You can see both sides gaining a healthy respect for the other generation.”

Microsoft TechSpark is a civic program aimed at fostering greater economic opportunity and job creation through partnership with rural and smaller metropolitan communities.

The goal of the program is to learn about local challenges and to implement and learn from digital initiatives to help accelerate growth, with a plan to then share that learning more broadly. Microsoft is working in communities and with local partners on five programs that will help accelerate economic growth through regional internet connectivity, digital skills development, career development, nonprofit support and digital business transformation. Microsoft will focus its resources to learn, contribute and share in specific communities in six states: North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Dennis Ellis is heading up the Microsoft TechSpark program in Wyoming.

The first Senior High Tech event was held in Lingle in April 2018, and saw 29 clients of the Senior Friendship Center in Lingle attend and receive help on their mobile devices. Since then, similar events have been held in Fort Laramie, Torrington, Casper, Thayne, Basin and three events in Cheyenne.

This year, AARP Wyoming is in the process of finding student service organizations to partner with senior centers in Thermopolis, Kemmerer, Rawlins, Pine Bluffs, Sheridan, Shoshoni, Jackson, Green River, Rock Springs and Cody. Interested student service organizations are encouraged to reach out to Tanya Johnson of AARP Wyoming at 307-432-5816 or tajohnson@aarp.org.

AARP Wyoming anticipates using the money from Microsoft to promote local events, secure equipment – such as mobile hotspots to make the events easier to produce – and more.

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