A new non-profit initiative, Connect to Compete, brings together Microsoft, Best Buy, Discovery Communications’ Discovery Education, Sesame Workshop and several other companies in a national effort to address the barriers to broadband adoption, digital literacy and closing the employment skills gap. Connect to Compete was formally announced by Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski at a meeting of interested parties at the Pew Charitable Trust in Washington, D.C.

Some of the key elements of the initiative are: Discovery Education will contribute educational content, including video clips and digital lessons, to help bolster student achievement; Sesame Workshop will provide games, videos and other educational materials from its outreach projects; Best Buy’s Geek Squad Agents will begin training Americans in 20 cities, working with community groups to train others how to teach digital literacy; and Microsoft will deploy training through schools, libraries and community colleges, along with basic digital literacy and office training in their stores and an online digital literacy training center.

Other participating companies include Arise Virtual Solutions,,, MetrixLearning and Brainfuse.

“All of us are here today because we want the adoption gap to be seen as an adoption opportunity. Imagine what having millions of more Americans digitally empowered can mean for the economy: millions more customers for online businesses, more Americans using cost saving e-government services, and more Americans with the digital skills needed to find and land the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Genachowski said. “We’re leaving opportunity on the table every day. A recent study found that closing the broadband adoption gap would create $32 billion in annual economic value.”

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Photo by flickr user nikoretro, used under Creative Commons license