Microsoft’s Bill Gates Announces $2 Million Software Donation To Benefit Detroit Public Library and Focus: HOPE

DETROIT, April 28, 1997 — In a major philanthropic announcement today, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates announced a $2 million donation in cash and software to augment the personal computer technology offerings at the Detroit Public Library and Focus: HOPE. Joining community leaders at the Detroit library today, Gates met with local youth and senior citizens to announce that Microsoft will help provide leading-edge PC technology at the Main Library and its 24 branches throughout the city, as well as at Focus: HOPE.

Today’s announcement coincides with the President’s Summit for America’s Future, a gathering of community, business and government leaders in Philadelphia to encourage greater volunteerism.

Microsoft awarded a technology grant worth $500,000 to the Detroit Public Library. Part of Microsoft’s more than $16 million international Libraries Online initiative, the gift will help to bring the Internet to Detroit libraries and provide software and interactive media titles for all branches. In addition, Microsoft’s support will provide computer hardware, technical assistance and support for the library system. Microsoft’s assistance will continue as Detroit’s information-technology plans grow.

Gates also announced a software grant of $1.5 million to Focus: HOPE, a metropolitan Detroit civil and human rights organization that provides high-tech manufacturing training and community services. The donation will allow Focus: HOPE to acquire operating systems for servers and personal computers, systems management and office automation tools, and consulting services. The gift announced today supplements the $1.5 million that Microsoft donated to the group last year, bringing the total donation to $3 million over two years.

“Focus: HOPE and the Detroit Public Library are two important Detroit institutions, and Microsoft is proud to join them in expanding access to the PC and the Internet,” Gates said. “In communities around the world we see how the PC can be a powerful tool that opens doors to learning and opportunity. Our hope is that these technologies will help empower young and old with the information and tools they need.”

“I am delighted that Bill Gates and Microsoft have chosen to invest in two great Detroit institutions,” said Detroit Mayor Dennis W. Archer. “The return on investment will be the intellectual growth and development of all citizens– especially young people- who use the resources of the Detroit Public Library and Focus: HOPE. Such initiatives help ensure that Detroit’s youth will make substantial contributions to the world of tomorrow. My thanks and congratulations to Microsoft for its corporate vision.”

“This generous donation is fantastic news for Detroit and Michigan, and we could not be more appreciative,” Gov. John Engler said. “By providing new computer technology for the Detroit Public Library and Focus: HOPE, Bill Gates and Microsoft are multiplying the educational power of these facilities. Something as revolutionary as this has the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives, and I believe it will.”

“We are most grateful to Bill Gates and Microsoft for teaming with Focus: HOPE and for supporting our mission,” said Eleanor Josaitis, acting executive director of Focus: HOPE. “This generous commitment directly benefits our engineering candidates at the Center for Advanced Technologies, as well as our other students and colleagues. Access to leading-edge technology is essential to the development of 21st-century manufacturing skills. We thank Bill Gates for his trust in Focus: HOPE.”

“Information can be a tremendous equalizer, and librarians are profoundly aware that access to resources in any community is not always equal,” said Dr. Maurice Wheeler, director of the Detroit library system. “Because of the generosity of Bill Gates and corporations like Microsoft, the Detroit Public Library is making strides in addressing the disparity of access to electronic resources in the community. With the opening of this laboratory and others planned for the future, the Internet and electronic access will be as close as the nearest Detroit Public Library branch.”

Microsoft’s Libraries Online effort has provided much-needed cash, software and technical assistance to library systems in rural and urban communities nationwide to help ensure public access to the Internet and multimedia personal computers. Working with the American Library Association and the Technology Resource Institute, Microsoft is assisting 260 communities in 43 library systems in the United States and Canada.

The Detroit Public Library, founded in 1865, has more than 5 million items, including books, magazines, maps and government publications. The Main Library was designated a state resource in 1976 and serves the citizens of Michigan. Twenty-four branch libraries serve those who live, work and attend school in Detroit. In addition, the Detroit public library provides specialized library services through its Service to Shut-Ins and Retirees, a bookmobile for the elderly and physically challenged; the Municipal Reference Library, serving city and county employees; and a number of special collections and services available to all users.

Founded in 1968 as an interracial movement of volunteers, Focus: HOPE’s ( ) 850 colleagues and 47,000 volunteers, participants and contributors are inspired by this mission statement: “Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice. And to build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection. Black and white, yellow, brown and red, from Detroit and its suburbs, of every economic status, national origin and religious persuasion, we join in this covenant (adopted March 8th, 1968).”

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