Rural LISC to scale digital workforce programs in rural communities with Microsoft

Rural LISC has announced an initiative to help accelerate digital inclusion and to address the digital skills gap in the rural Midwest, with support from Microsoft. The initiative will build the capacity of community-based nonprofits to help bridge the digital divide and expand access to economic opportunity for residents in disinvested and underserved communities in IL, IN, MO, MT, NE, and OH.

The collaboration will expand existing Rural LISC workforce development programs, including its Digital Navigator model, Financial Opportunity Centers and Rural Works framework, to better identify diverse workforce candidates in need of upskilling and to support broad-based technology adoption. Outreach and training will focus on device and internet literacy and advanced occupational technology skills that result in increased placements in living wage jobs.

“Millions call rural America home, but too many don’t have access to the technological tools and skills needed to thrive in the digital world,” said Mary Snapp, Microsoft Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “This initiative represents an opportunity to scale digital workforce programming and help rural communities throughout the country.”

The Midwest regional focus will leverage Microsoft Airband markets to foster deeper connection between broadband internet access and its meaningful connection to education, healthcare, government services and civic participation through Rural LISC’s Digital Navigator program.

Digital Navigators are cross-trained human service professionals who offer trust-based individualized assistance to vulnerable individuals and families experiencing digital isolation. Digital Navigators assist clients with securing digital devices, identifying free and affordable internet service options, and providing digital skills training that lead to improved employment outcomes.

“Rural America is deeply underserved with modern broadband connectivity,” said Caitlin Cain, LISC Vice President and Rural Director. “Rural LISC is working with Microsoft to bridge the digital divide by addressing workforce access, upskilling, and connectivity challenges in rural communities. This investment will directly support the development and deployment of digital inclusion solutions in rural and remote communities.”

To access details on Rural LISC’s work on digital inclusion, visit

About Rural LISC

Launched in 1995, Rural LISC is the rural component of the largest community development support organization in the country, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). Rural LISC provides a wide range of services, including financial support, training, technical assistance and information to help rural community service partners and developers address the obstacles specific to rural communities. To date, Rural LISC has leveraged nearly $3.3 billion from public and private sources to produce 35,000 affordable homes and apartments, create 4 million square feet of commercial and community space, assist 700 businesses, create 12,000 jobs and support 20 early childhood centers. By generating resources and investing in the grassroots efforts of its 140+ rural partner community-based organizations in 49 states, Rural LISC is committed to ensuring equity and sustainable resources in rural America. Learn more at

About LISC

With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $24 billion to build or rehab more than 436,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit