The Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona Commerce Authority Announce Collaboration with Microsoft to Help Valley Veterans Launch New Careers Through Micro-certs


TEMPE, AZ (July 9, 2020) — The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and U.S.VETS announced today a collaborative effort with Microsoft to provide military veterans opportunities to earn fast-track certifications to launch careers in information technology and beyond. The Microsoft Excel Expert through Imagine Academy welcomes its first cohort virtually July 13th through MCCCD’s Maricopa IT Institute (MITI)-East Valley.


“Our collaboration with Microsoft highlights the Maricopa Community College’s commitment to serving our students and industry as we develop fast-paced mi-cro certifications that bridge the gap between education and job needs,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Interim Chancellor. “In a rapidly changing job market and economy, it is more important than ever for education and training to come together with our industry partners. We are very excited about this initiative and the opportunities it will provide for our community.”


As the state’s leading economic development organization, the ACA is committed to continually developing the workforce through public-private partnerships focused on skill improvements and education.


“As technology transforms industries, Arizona is committed to building the workforce of the future,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority President & CEO. “We’re very proud to be working with Microsoft, alongside Maricopa Community Colleges and U.S.VETS, to advance this commitment by providing new upskilling opportunities for veterans.”


Excel Expert certification can open the door to many jobs like community manager or operations coordinator and is considered a foundational skill in many fields including engineering, business and IT. Programming covers a variety of topics including format data management, advanced formula usage, data validation and analysis and use of simple macros. Course completion includes Microsoft Office 2019 Excel Expert certification, a critical milestone on the path toward careers in networking and data analytics.


“Microsoft is pleased to be working with this distinguished group of organizations to serve Arizona’s veteran heroes in acquiring 21st century digital skills to open a world of new professional opportunities,” said Melissa Libhart, Microsoft Sales Director, Southwest State & Local Government.


The non-credit micro-cert receives support from private sector partners Institute for Digital Progress, tech consulting firm Slalom and PipelineAZ. Slalom will host virtual lab hours to share its expertise in addressing student technical issues and provide real world resume building and career coaching tips so veterans gain the confidence to thrive in the workplace. Upon receiving certification, graduates may participate in a virtual job fair hosted by the MITI-East Valley and PipelineAZ.


The first pilot program is offered online at no charge for up to 20 veterans. Additional cohorts offering Microsoft certifications in desktop administration, net-working and data analytics are planned for late fall 2020 and spring 2021 through MITI-East Valley and MITI at Phoenix College in Downtown Phoenix.


“Working with Veterans and employers every day, they share in one common theme and that’s the importance of certification,” said Tera Calhoun, Workforce Development Coordinator, U.S.VETS. “Through this program and collaboration, we are able to bridge the gap by providing our Veterans with the skills and certification they’re in need of, and providing employers with Veterans that possess the qualifications they’re in search of." 


Interested veterans are encouraged to visit for additional information.


Organizations interested in partnering with MCCCD to create similar programs are encouraged to contact Dr. Brianna DeGeus, MCCCD Deputy District Director for Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships at [email protected].


Media Contact 

Dasi Danzig
Maricopa County Community College District[email protected]


Connie Weber
Arizona Commerce Authority
(602) 845-1243
[email protected]


About Maricopa Community Colleges

The Maricopa County Community College District includes ten regionally-accredited colleges – Chandler-Gilbert, Estrella Mountain, GateWay, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Rio Salado, Scottsdale, and South Mountain – and the Maricopa Corporate College, serving more than 200,000 students with two-year degrees, certificates, and university transfer programs.


About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is the state's leading economic development organization with a streamlined mission to grow and strengthen Arizona's economy. The ACA uses a three-pronged approach to advance the overall economy: attract, expand, create - attract out-of-state companies to establish operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to expand their business in Arizona and beyond; and help entrepreneurs create new Arizona businesses in targeted industries. For more information, please visit and follow the ACA on Twitter @azcommerce.