Microsoft Awards Grant to Distance-Education Program For Native Americans in Washington State

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 12, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. today announced a $75,000 cash contribution to The Evergreen State College (TESC) to enhance its reservation-based degree program for Native Americans in Washington state. The grant, which will include Microsoft® software in addition to the cash support, will help TESC establish a pilot computer lab at the Skokomish tribal reservation, one of the college’s five reservation-based distance-education sites. The lab will give students better access to curriculum and content resources and is the first step in TESC’s Technology Augmentation Pilot Project, which will use computing and communications technology to improve undergraduate teaching and learning.

Over an 18-month period, the new effort will integrate the latest computer technology with Evergreen’s existing degree program on Native American reservations. In addition to the five-station computer lab at the Skokomish tribal reservation, which is expected to be fully operational for the fall 1999 quarter, the program will provide training and consultation for tribal project staff and cover some hardware and connectivity costs. Tribal students will have the opportunity to learn to communicate and exchange documents by e-mail, use the Internet for research, post information to Web sites, and manage scanned images and documents. The lab will also be available to other Skokomish community members.

“Evergreen already has an impressive reservation-based degree program,” said Barbara Dingfield, director of community affairs at Microsoft. “We’re hopeful that our grant will

increase access to education for the Skokomish people and, potentially, other Washington state Native American communities.”

According to Gary Peterson, an instructor in the program and member of the Skokomish Tribal Council, “We are fortunate to have the unbeatable combination of TESC’s established reservation-based program, which recognizes tribal needs and culture, and leading computer technology from Microsoft. By using this technology, we can overcome challenges such as the independent nature of distance-learning degree programs and the remote location of tribal sites.”

For over nine years, The Evergreen State College has operated the Reservation-Based, Community-Determined Degree Program for Native Americans living on remote reservations who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree without leaving their tribal community. The program has awarded more than 70 bachelor’s degrees since its inception and currently serves several reservations in western Washington through program sites in Shelton, Taholah, Neah Bay, Puyallup and Port Gamble.

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