Microsoft Launches Web Site for Seniors and a Major Grant to SeniorNet – Two More Steps Toward Closing the “Digital Divide”

, October 1, 1998 — Microsoft believes that technology can empower people of all ages to live better lives – through both work and play. For more than 20 years, this belief has led the company to strive to help people of all ages gain access to and reap the benefits of digital information, and to help bridge the “digital divide” – the widening gap that exists between computer literate and non-computer literate citizens.

To this end, Microsoft’s Seniors and Technology Website is bringing generations and communities together in an effort to impact more than 1 million people by the year 2000. The site is designed to assist seniors, their families and care-giving organizations in understanding the programs and resources available to them on the Internet. Microsoft also announced a $1 million grant benefiting SeniorNet, an organization dedicated to providing older adults with computer skills and technology experience. As a result, seniors will be able to realize exciting new possibilities via the use of technology, enhancing their community, creativity and employability. As technology continues to transform the way we communicate, learn and do business, it is important that people not be left behind on the information highway. Microsoft recognizes that seniors, in particular, are in danger of being left by the wayside. Only 21% of seniors own PC’s and only 9% are connected to the Internet, according to a Department of Commerce study by the National Telecommunications Information Administration, released in July 1998. To address this problem, Microsoft created the Microsoft Senior Initiative, which focuses on bridging the
“digital divide”
, and on bringing generations and communities together through technology.

The Microsoft Senior Initiative helps build community and communication, facilitate independent living and financial independence, and enhance personal productivity and creativity. The initiative promotes PC literacy, allowing seniors to enhance their employability, including seeking alternative work options such as job sharing and telecommuting, while benefiting both society and their respective communities. By providing education about and access to technology, Microsoft empowers seniors to continue making contributions, to achieve exciting possibilities and to realize their full potential. To this end, the Microsoft Senior Initiative is working to reach our goal of providing information-technology access and training to over 250,000 seniors and directly impacting over 1 million people by the year 2000.

As part of its mission, the Microsoft Senior Initiative engages non-profit organizations such as SeniorNet, as well as industry partners and government agencies, in strategic alliances to help bring technology to communities around the world. Today, Microsoft is announcing a grant to SeniorNet, worth more than $1 million dollars, that will enable the organization to continue its vital work in providing older adults education and access to computer technology and the Internet. SeniorNet will use the grant to expand its network of 140 computer learning centers into under-served communities. During the coming year SeniorNet will add at least 50 more learning centers, half of which will be located in these communities.

Today’s Website launch coincides with the kickoff of the United Nations International Year of Older Persons, 1999. The year is dedicated to increasing awareness of the individual and social needs of senior citizens, the contributions of seniors to society, the challenge of aging societies and the need for a change in attitude toward older people. Director of the Microsoft Senior Initiative, Craig Spiezle, is in New York to participate in the two-day kick-off event.

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