User groups have existed since the earliest days of the PC revolution, when enthusiasts gathered in basements, local coffee shops, and colleges, seeking to support each other and learn new skills. But until recently, industry support of user groups has been disjointed and has varied from group to group.

Culminis, a new organization sponsored by Microsoft and other IT solution providers, seeks to support user groups in a more organized fashion, providing them with resources, on-site visits, and other exclusive benefits. Here's what you need to know about Culminis.

Benefits to User Groups
At its heart, Culminis is a non-profit organization that acts as a conduit between member user groups and corporate sponsors. Through its Culminis Alliance Program (CAP), the organization recently added more than 450 user groups and 200,000 new members.

Benefits to user groups include discounts on technical publications, software, training, and certifications. Member organizations set access to leading-edge speakers from Microsoft and other partners, software-based seminars, hands-on training, and speaker-in-a-box presentations.

Recommendations
Culminis is waiving its annual membership fee for new organizations that apply to CAP before July 1, 2004. But regardless of the annual fee, Culminis offers a unique value to both user groups and potential corporate sponsors by providing an organized infrastructure through which these two entities can interact to the benefit of each. Culminis offers a tremendous opportunity for those who wish to become more involved in the technologies that matter most in their careers. Find out more about Culminis at http://www.culminis.com.