Microsoft Corp. has launched a $1 billion global initiative, called Unlimited Potential (UP), that will provide technology skills for disadvantaged individuals through community-based technology and learning centers.

In the first round of UP grants, Microsoft is donating $8.1 million in cash and software to 82 nonprofit organizations to hire and train technology instructors. The company plans to commit more than $1 billion to the initiative over the next five years. Subsequent phases of the initiative will offer an online global support network delivering technology curriculum, research, tools, and help-desk services.