Microsoft Announces Major Gift to Sustain & Expand Computer Learning Center @ Martha’s Table

Washington, D.C. , May 30, 1996 — Joining parents, teenagers and children in the Computer Learning Center @ Martha’s Table, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates today announced a $110,000 cash and software donation to the center for the coming year, raising the company’s contributions to more than $240,000 over the past two years. The new funds will be used to expand and improve upon the lab, which Microsoft helped to build for needy families nearly two years ago. The center offers at-risk families and schoolchildren access to the Internet and multimedia personal computers.

Since 1980, Martha’s Table has provided food to hungry and homeless people in Washington, D.C. The organization also supplies homeless and low-income neighborhood children with supervised learning activities, such as the computer center, and nutritious meals in a safe environment. Touching thousands of lives each year, the organization eases suffering and encourages hope in a distressed community, relying on a limited budget and dedicated volunteers.

In the fall of 1994, Microsoft underwrote the creation of a multimedia computer lab in which parents, children and teenagers could access information technologies. Today, hundreds of schoolchildren use PCs at Martha’s Table for homework and educational learning, while many adults rely on the PCs to prepare for their high school equivalency diplomas.

Teenagers from some of Washington’s most underprivileged neighborhoods explore the internet and do their homework in the computer center. Microsoft provides the Windows® 95, Microsoft® Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office for Windows 95, Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia, Bookshelf® online reference guide, Creative Writer, Publisher for Windows 95 and other multimedia software. Microsoft also has helped to arrange for hardware donations and funds the center’s staffing.

“The PC is empowering children and adults who use this center to accomplish things they never thought possible,” said Veronica Parke, Executive Vice President of Martha’s Table. “They come from homeless shelters or currently live in one, and this lab provides them with access to a world of information and capabilities that simply was beyond their reach. In our own way, we are helping to bridge the gap between the information haves and have-nots every day.”

“Microsoft is excited to be a part of the incredible work that Martha’s Table is doing in this community,” said Gates. “Our vision of helping to build a connected learning community involves making technology accessible to everyone, and that means bringing technology to where people are, in libraries, museums and shelters.”

Over the past two years, Computer Center Director Mary Wolf has seen the community benefit from its access to technology in a variety of ways:

Tyrone Curtis, an 18-year-old who lives along the 14 th Street corridor in Columbia Heights, came to Martha’s Table eight years ago, worried about violence in his school and on the street. Wolf encouraged him to help her set-up the Computer Center and he has been working there ever since. He helped to program the computers in the early days and today works with computer users after school to help them get the most out of their experience. Like other teenagers who come to the center, Tyrone has found both a focus and the tools he needs to turn his educational experience around. “Today he is a straight-A student who hopes to attend college,” said Wolf.

  • Adults at Martha’s Table who have overcome personal crises are using the PC to help build parenting skills and earn their high-school equivalency diplomas.

  • Hispanic women in the community come to the center to use PCs to help them learn English and to work on math skills.

  • Each day, after school, more than 100 children from the community come to the center to learn about and use PCs. Also, teenagers use the center each night for homework sessions.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Bookshelf, Encarta, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

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