Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Shaquille O’Neal and Microsoft Announce National Online Safety Initiative for American Youth

Announce National Online Safety Initiative for American Youth

WASHINGTON, June 16, 1999 — The Boys & Girls Clubs of America (B & GCA), NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal and Microsoft Corp. today launched a major national technology initiative to prepare America’s children for safe experiences on the Internet. Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, Shaquille O’Neal and B & GCA President Roxanne Spillett announced a new online safety tool at a Boys & Girls Club near Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

B & GCA, O’Neal and Microsoft have collaborated over the past year to create an innovative educational online safety program for kids. The program, called
“Stay Safe Online,”
will be beta-tested in 15 new technology centers in rural and inner-city communities built with financial and technical support from Microsoft and O’Neal. Microsoft will contribute $1.1 million in cash and $400,000 in software (estimated retail value). O’Neal has committed $1 million in support of B & GCA technology initiatives.

Beginning this summer, kids who visit the new pilot technology centers will learn important principles for staying safe on the Internet. Kids who want to surf the Net will be asked to first participate in a 15-minute interactive computer program starring O’Neal that was developed by Microsoft and B & GCA. The program teaches kids important safety lessons and then ends with an online safety test. Kids who pass the test are given an online safety award.

“Microsoft’s hope is that this program will help to empower kids and adults with the information and technology they need to make the Internet a safer place for children,”
Gates said.
“We’re also proud to partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs and Shaq to make the PC and the Internet more accessible to children in communities across the country.”

Stay Safe Online was created with the goal of pioneering a holistic approach to online safety for kids. The program was developed by Microsoft in conjunction with the Program Services team at B & GCA. Educators, youth leaders and parents were involved in its initial development. Many initiatives in this area have focused only on educational or technical aspects of this problem. The effort of Microsoft, B & GCA and O’Neal integrates three strategies for helping ensure that kids have a positive, safe online experience: education, adult supervision and technology.

As part of the initiative, Microsoft is training B & GCA staff at each center to teach kids about online safety and to supervise their time on the Internet. Microsoft also will train staff on its Microsoft® Internet Explorer Content Advisor, a simple but powerful technology that allows parents, educators and others to limit what children see on the Internet.

Stay Safe Online teaches kids six important principles for staying safe on the Internet:

  • Always be respectful of others.

  • Never give out personal information.

  • Always remember you are responsible for what you do online.

  • Always follow the computer room supervisor’s instructions.

  • Never agree to meet people you talk to online in person.

  • Never visit
    Web sites.

The online safety pilot program will be studied by Microsoft and B & GCA to evaluate its effectiveness, learn what works and what doesn’t, and provide information to all clubs about best practices in developing technology centers. Key lessons will be disseminated through regular regional training programs offered by the national organization. Based on the evaluation, Microsoft probably will make the educational program available on the Web so that parents, schools and other youth-oriented groups can take advantage of the effort. Microsoft also will consider expanding the program with B & GCA beyond this one-year pilot if successful.

“We are most fortunate to have the commitment of Microsoft and Shaq to help make technology both accessible and safe for our young people,”
Spillett said.
“Technology skills are critical to our educational enhancement and career preparedness programs, and safe, smart mastery of the Internet is a key ingredient to the long-term success of our kids.”

“I thought about building recreation facilities, and they are important, but not every kid is going to make it to the NBA,”
O’Neal said.
“So I started thinking about how technology is such a huge part of my life and that kids who don’t understand computers are going to be at an even greater disadvantage in the next century than they are today. Getting kids online and keeping them safe is so important. I’m really happy I could be part of this effort.”

Microsoft Building Technology Centers and Sharing Best Practices

As part of the technology initiative, Microsoft, O’Neal and B & GCA are establishing pilot technology centers at 15 Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. In addition, Microsoft is augmenting the Washington, D.C.-area Boys & Girls Clubs’ current technology initiatives. The new technology centers will demonstrate the best ways to use technology in after-school programs, providing a blueprint for B & GCA as it brings technology to disadvantaged communities through local Clubs.

Communities receiving new technology centers include High Point, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; Philadelphia (two Clubs); Newark, N.J.; Taunton, Mass.; Cleveland; Hayward, Wis.; Milwaukee; and Laredo, Texas.

The 15 technology centers will be outfitted with networked PCs with high-speed Internet access, plus a complete suite of Microsoft software (such as the Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia, Encarta Africana, Microsoft Office 2000, and numerous titles in Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus TM series) that has been specially engineered to meet the computing needs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The centers will include laser printers, digital cameras and other peripherals and will have trained staff to assist young people with software training and Internet use. Club members will be asked to pass the Stay Safe Online training before being granted Internet privileges.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America comprises a national network of more than 2,300 neighborhood-based facilities annually serving some 3 million young people, primarily from disadvantaged circumstances. Known as
“The Positive Place for Kids,”
the Clubs provide guidance-oriented character development programs on a daily basis for children 6-18 years old, conducted by a full-time paid professional staff. Key Boys & Girls Club programs emphasize educational enhancement, career exploration, drug and alcohol avoidance, health and fitness, gang and violence prevention, cultural enrichment, leadership development and community service.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) 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 and Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Scholastic, The Magic School Bus and associated designs and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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