Microsoft Corp. plans to commit more than $1 billion over the next five years to Unlimited Potential (UP), a global initiative focused on providing technology skills to disadvantaged individuals through community-based technology and learning centers. In the first round of UP grants, Microsoft awarded $8.1 million in cash and software to 82 nonprofit organizations. Initially, UP will provide funding to help community-based technology and learning centers hire and train technology instructors. Subsequent phases of the initiative will offer an online global support network delivering technology curriculum, research, tools, and help-desk services. UP also will sponsor a global and regional awards program, which will invest in technology solutions that deliver a social benefit. The awards are designed to encourage innovation and provide the funding necessary to help the best technology solutions scale for broader use.