New Grants Help Bridge the “Digital Divide” for Minority Students

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 13, 2000 — In a continuing effort to help bridge the “digital divide,” Microsoft Corp. today announced 11 grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions totaling $440,000 in cash and $1 million in software. The recipients, selected in coordination with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), will use these grants to provide more than 150,000 students and faculty with access to the latest advancements in technology.

“While technology is creating pathways to success, far too many people are detoured because large gaps exist between them and technological resources and training,” says Bruce Brooks, director of community affairs at Microsoft. “Through our efforts to help bridge this digital divide, we are providing individuals with the tools and resources that can help them discover their futures and, ultimately, to accomplish great things.”

Each of the 11 schools will receive $40,000 in cash and additional software to provide students and faculty with benefits such as enhanced information technology curricula, distance learning opportunities and improved access to the Internet. One of today’s grant recipients, the University of Texas, Pan Am, will use Microsoft’s contribution toward the university’s computer science division to encourage local Hispanic high school students to major in computer science, and to show them that a career in the high-tech industry is a realistic and viable goal.

“Many of the college-bound students in this area are first-generation college attendees in their families, and they often have nobody to speak with on what college is all about,
“explains Pearl Brazier, Chair of the Computer Science Division at the University of Texas, Pan Am.”
They end up dropping out from this discipline when they don’t need to. Microsoft’s grant strengthens our computer science program and enables us to provide the kind of transitional support these students need to achieve high-level goals in the technology field. Our students use Microsoft software, essentially, for free. We don’t have to take funds — which could be put to other uses — out of department operations to pay for it, or charge students a fee.”

The university’s five-part proposal for the Microsoft grant includes ideas for a technology-focused summer camp, two different scholarship programs, distance education and a workshop focused on exposing high school teachers to computer science. “Many people don’t really know what computer science is,” Brazier says. “People know it’s hot, but they don’t know what it is to develop a career in computer science; they don’t have a real concept of what that entails. Using Microsoft’s grant, we hope to develop this program to enable teachers to become sources of knowledge for under-represented minorities in the technological field.”

Microsoft, HACU, and UNCF are united in their efforts to increase awareness of the digital divide and to provide those affected with the opportunity to bridge the gap. These grants come one step closer to achieving that goal, according to Bruce Brooks.

“Through this funding and our continued efforts to increase technology access across the nation, we are working to ensure these students have an equal chance for success,”
says Brooks.

Related Posts