Microsoft Announces Connected Learning Community Grants to 12 Organizations

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 3, 1999 — Microsoft announced the winners of two major grant programs this week as part of its ongoing support for a broad spectrum of community-based education and training programs. Seven community colleges were awarded Working Connections grants for development of information technology (IT) programs, and 12 non-profit organizations received Connected Learning Community grants for programs that bring technology access and learning resources to disadvantaged communities.

Working Connections

With pilot programs already in place on the campuses of eight original Working Connections grant recipients, Microsoft announced the second round of grants in the five-year, $7 million program, which is administered by the American Association of Community Colleges. A total of seven community and technical colleges received grants this week, ranging from $170,000 to $260,000, to establish or enhance IT training programs. Designed by the colleges themselves, each training program takes into account the IT needs of local businesses and the importance of attracting and supporting students from non-traditional and disadvantaged backgrounds.

“One of the most important things Working Connections does is provide diverse communities with access to high technology,” said Mete Kk, project director of the Working Connections program at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), a first-year grant recipient. “For most of my students, this is their only access to computers or the Internet. They stay after class just to play. They are hungry for knowledge.”

The following colleges received 1999 Working Connections grants, and most plan to implement pilot IT training programs by the fall quarter of the 1999-2000 academic year:

  • Camden County College, Blackwood, N.J.

  • Cerritos Community College, Norwalk, Calif.

  • Frederick Community College, Frederick, Md.

  • Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Neb.

  • New Hampshire Community Technical College System, Concord, N.H.

  • South Texas Community College, McAllen, Texas

  • Wallace State Community College, Selma, Ala.

Connected Learning Communities
From coast to coast, Microsoft’s Connected Learning Community (CLC) grants help non-profit organizations connect people to learning resources through PC and Internet technology. Microsoft awarded 12 grants to organizations that are using a wide range of effective technology solutions [make “effective technology solutions” a link to CLC grant list] to expand the access of disadvantaged communities to information technology.

Several CLC grants will help low-income housing residents, such as those of the Hayes Valley Computing Center in San Francisco, gain technology access and training. The Computing Center provides residents with free access to computers for career training and exploration, with the goal of helping them earn a better living.

In St. Paul, Minn., a CLC grant will fund a computer clubhouse for youth age 10 to 18 at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The clubhouse will teach inner-city children how to use computer applications for interdisciplinary learning.

“Our project will help us improve the future of many young people in the Twin Cities,” said Dr. James Peterson, president of the Science Museum of Minnesota. “The assistance of Microsoft and other groups is making our dream of offering better access to technology a reality for disadvantaged youth.”

Regardless of the specifics surrounding each technology access project, Microsoft is supporting non-profits that are using technology to make a difference in people’s lives. Microsoft’s Director of Community Affairs, Barbara Dingfield, is quick to point out the initiative taken by Microsoft sales offices and regional staff to establish relationships with outstanding nonprofits. “The Microsoft sales offices have done a wonderful job in identifying groups which help disadvantaged people in their communities use technology for education and training,” said Dingfield. “Long-term volunteer commitments by Microsoft employees also are a critical component of the Connected Learning Community grant program.”

Begun in 1996, the Connected Learning Community program has awarded a total of $1 million in cash and an estimated $2 million in retail-valued software to 74 organizations throughout the United States. Grants are awarded three times each fiscal year, in October, January and May.

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