Distributed May 16, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel and Kristen Cole
WorldCom Contact: Julie Moore (202) 887-2373

Narrowing the digital divide

WorldCom, Brown announce grants to 20 underserved U.S. communities

WorldCom and Brown University have awarded grants to 20 community-campus partnerships in support of educational technology programs for youth in underserved communities. The $5-million Making a Civic Investment grant program will benefit thousands of K-12 schoolchildren nationwide during the next five years.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — WorldCom and Brown University today (Tuesday, May 16, 2000) announced grants to 20 programs nationwide which link public schools or community organizations with local colleges or universities to develop educational technology projects for youth in underserved areas.

Thousands of students in grades K-12, will benefit from grants awarded through the Making a Civic Investment program. That $5-million program, funded by WorldCom and administered by Campus Compact at Brown, goes beyond funding for computer hardware and software.

“This effort brings together community groups, the private sector, higher education, and schools to help build stronger, more vibrant communities,” said Jonathan B. Sallet, WorldCom chief policy counsel. “Our purpose is to improve learning through technology, not just through the provision of hardware and software, but by teaching students to use technology to learn and thrive in the today’s technology-rich environment.”

The programs range widely from urban schools to Native American tribal communities, from online community newspapers to urban gardens to Web sites that gather neighborhood history. They vary geographically from Spokane, Wash., to Lorman, Miss., to Miami. Many programs are intergenerational. Each program will receive annual funding for two years and will be eligible for continued funding for a total of five years. Leaders of the 20 programs qualify for annual professional development programs at Brown. WorldCom and its UUNET subsidiary will ensure that each project has high-speed Internet service, MMDS, for the term of the grant. Although the size of individual projects varies, most grants will total more than $200,000 over five years. More than 160 community-based programs applied for grants.

“The projects we are funding were developed by partnerships between community organizations and local colleges and universities,” said Elizabeth Hollander, executive director of Campus Compact. “As a national coalition of nearly 700 college and university presidents committed to improving America's communities, we are enthusiastic about this program because it will help communities raise a generation of students who can not only use technology, but can use it to improve their own neighborhoods.”

Editors: Information on the 20 projects is attached. Additional information is available at the Campus Compact Web site: http://www.compact.org/

Making a Civic Investment expands on WorldCom’s commitment to support education and learning using cutting-edge technology. The WorldCom Foundation’s Marco Polo program features a comprehensive teacher training kit and is available online at no cost through the program’s Web site [www.wcom.com/marcopolo]. In December 1999, WorldCom announced an initiative to provide specialized Internet training for all teachers in seven Mississippi Delta states. Teacher training has already been provided or is underway in eight major metropolitan areas around the country. Last month, WorldCom committed to provide high-speed wireless Internet service to schools and libraries in four rural communities: Hattiesburg, Miss., Douma, La., Dothan, Ala., and Raleigh, N.C.

WorldCom (NASDAQ: WCOM) is a global leader in “all-distance” communications services with operations in more than 65 countries. Revenues in 1999 were $37 billion, with more than $15 billion from high-growth data, Internet and international services. WorldCom and Sprint have announced a merger agreement, which the companies expect to close in the second half of 2000 after regulatory and shareholder approvals. For more information: [www.wcom.com].

Grant recipients

Tempe, Ariz. – The Active Learning Project

Partnership: Kenilworth Elementary School, the Salvation Army-Phoenix Citadel Corps and Arizona State University’s America Reads Program.

Structure: Elementary school students will plant and cultivate a new garden, a living laboratory where they will learn fundamental biological concepts. They will cultivate fruit, vegetables and flowers with the help of college students and share their experiences through the creation of a new Web site. The Internet technology will provide both research and publication opportunities for the youngsters. In particular, they will communicate with other children involved in the cultivation of gardens under the direction of the Salvation Army-Phoenix Citadel Corps. The program expands an existing literacy program that pairs tutors from Arizona State University with elementary students and their parents under the direction of the elementary school’s bilingual teachers.

Contact: Janice Kelly, senior program coordinator, Arizona State University, (480) 727-6382 or [email protected].

Northridge, Calif. – University Partnership for Learning the Internet with Families Together (UPLIFT)

Partnership: Community Charter Middle School and California State University-Northridge.

Structure: UPLIFT will establish a community computer laboratory where minority students from the university’s computer science department will teach 300 sixth- and seventh-graders and their families basic computer and Internet skills. Youngsters will conduct neighborhood surveys about current local concerns, and make the information available to the community through a school-based Web site.

Contact: Maureen Rubin, director of the Center for Community Service Learning, California State University Northridge, (818) 677-7395 or [email protected].

Rohnert Park, Calif. – TECHequity

Partnership: Institute for Computer Technology, Resources for Innovation, Sonoma State University, Solano Community College, and Mare Island Technology (MIT) Academy.

Structure: The program will create, implement, and evaluate a model middle and high school curriculum that integrates technology with service-learning projects. It will provide the MIT Academy faculty with curriculum development support and technology support. The project will also provide teaching candidates from both Sonoma State University and Solano Community College with AmeriCorps opportunities.

Contact: Lynne Vaughan, community partnership planner, Sonoma State University, (707) 552-2382 or [email protected].

Denver, Colo. – Virtual Civic Democracy: Connecting the Community

Partnership: The Horace Mann Neighborhood Center, the Learn and Earn Computer Program, and the University of Denver.

Structure: The program will assist children and adults in using information technology as a force for community revitalization and democratic action. Building off the Learn and Earn Computer Program, students from the University of Denver will develop a new Internet class to help youth and adults learn the useful personal and civic applications of the World Wide Web. University students will assist elementary and middle school students in developing a community Web page, hosting a community Web site and chat room, and incorporating the Internet into community leadership training provided by an area community-based organization.

Contact: David Lisman, director, Center for Service Learning and Civic Education, University of Denver, (303) 871-4921 or [email protected].

Hamden, Conn. – The Kidz Corps Project

Partnership: Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School, the Center for Optimum Care, a local nursing home, and Quinnipiac University.

Structure: Sixth-graders from the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School will “adopt” the Center for Optimum Care and begin a series of conversations with the elderly designed to build bridges of understanding between the two groups. A set of structured intergenerational activities will be facilitated and enhanced by the use of technology. The youngsters will conduct video interviews of the elderly and use the interviews as the basis for reflective journal writing, interdisciplinary class discussions and group projects. They will perform research on the Internet regarding the problems associated with aging. They will then build a project Web site that contains interviews conducted by the students about the elderly.

Contact: Gloria Holmes, assistant professor of education, Quinnipiac University, (203) 287-3461 or [email protected].

Miami, Fla. – The Power of Learning Project

Partnership: Eight partners include the Greater Bethel AME Church, the BAME Development Corporation, Booker T. Washington High School, the Center for Civic Education, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Kids Voting Dade County, the Overtown Optimist Club, and Miami-Dade Community College.

Structure: The project will establish a permanent community-based computer lab/classroom to engage children and their families in the use of technology and the Internet as a key tool for creating civic engagement and social responsibility. Students and faculty from Miami-Dade Community College will act as mentors and volunteers in a community computer lab. It will serve as the hub for a range of learning activities designed to increase accessibility to the world of the Internet, build information-processing skills of community members, and provide a rich environment for collaborative community-building activities to take place.

Contact: Joshua Young, director Center for Community Involvement, Miami-Dade Community College, (305) 237-7477 or [email protected].

Edwardsville, Ill. – Bridging the Digital Divide

Partnership: Eight existing community-based after-school programs and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Structure: The project will enable 750 school children, ages 5 to 13, to gain greater technological expertise on the computer through after-school programs. Students will have access to the Internet and use it to better their community. For example, a group of students may research the problems surrounding lead-based paint using the Internet and identify methods for addressing the problem in homes in the neighborhood. The program will also match them with successful professionals and college students in an online mentoring relationship. A portion of the target population – those who tutor other students – will also receive computers for their homes.

Contact: Don Baden, associate dean, School of Education, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, (618) 650-3644 or [email protected].

Amherst, Mass. – The Digital Community Newsroom Project

Partnership: Holyoke Neighborhood Networks Center, El Arco Iris Youth and Community Arts Center, and Hampshire College.

Structure: Hampshire College students and faculty will teach Web design, writing and leadership skills to Holyoke youth through the creation of an online and paper community newsletter. By highlighting ongoing community revitalization efforts, and by giving youth a public voice, the newsletter will promote community involvement and provide a unique service to community residents of all ages. Residents will be invited to tap into the Web site to learn about what is happening in the community. The project also will familiarize Holyoke youth with a wide range of important job skills and potential career paths.

Contact: Tom Murray, director, Digital Design Center, Hampshire College, (413) 559-5433 or [email protected].

Grand Rapids, Mich. – Partnership for Internet Enhanced Learning

Partnership: Alexander School, Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Campau Park School, New Hope Church, and Calvin College.

Structure: The project aims to improve student literacy with Internet-based teaching and tutoring, and develop an extensive collection of Internet-based curriculum materials. Retired members of New Hope Church and college students will be paired with elementary students in technology mentoring relationships. Students will visit Web sites that encourage them to perform integrative tasks in ways that contribute to the construction of their own Web sites. In particular, African-American cultural sites on the World Wide Web will be the focus for reading and writing projects.

Contact: Steven Timmermans, dean for instruction, Calvin College, (616) 957-6122, or [email protected]. Rhae-Ann Booker, director of pre-college programs, Calvin College, (616) 957-6748 or [email protected].

Lorman, Miss. – Family online Computing Academy for Civic Investment

Partnership: Fourth graders, their parents, teachers and librarians from two predominantly minority communities in Claiborne and Jefferson Counties, and Alcorn State University.

Structure: A family technology center will be established at Alcorn State University for 60 families to use the Web after school and on weekends each year. The university will make available computer systems and e-mail accounts to each member of the participating families. Participating families will also mentor another family to ensure all fourth-graders and their families take part in the project on an annual basis. They will also receive assistance in locating resources to purchase or build a computer for home use and in securing Internet connections via a modem through Alcorn State University.

Contact: Napoleon Moses, chairman, Department of Industrial Technology, Alcorn State University, (601) 877-6482 or [email protected].

Springfield, Mo. – Students as Citizens: Linking Families, Schools, Communities and Universities to Enhance Learning Through Technology

Partnership: Springfield Public Schools, Founders Park, the Greene County History Museum, the Library of Springfield/Green County, and Southwest Missouri State University Citizenship and Service Learning Program.

Structure: Nearly 600 students will research the history of Springfield from 1829-1929 using the Internet and traditional resources, create a historical Web site, explore critical electronic resources for links to the Web site and develop an electronic portfolio for recognition of their accomplishments. The major program goals include designing an innovative social studies curriculum that uses technology, and linking university students/faculty with school children, their parents, and community-based organizations to develop the historical Web site.

Contact: Debra McDowell, director of citizenship and service learning, Southwest Missouri State, (417) 836-4840 or [email protected].

Bozeman, Mont. – Making a Civic Investment in Montana

Partnership: Burns Telecommunications Center, tribal communities in Montana, and Montana State University-Bozeman.

Structure: The program will utilize a variety of new communication technologies to bring the nationally recognized JASON science education program to the Native American communities in Montana. It will establish groups of Native American student mentors who will work with teachers, students in grades 4-8, tribal college faculty, and community leaders in order to successfully incorporate the JASON program. The program will also engage in service-learning activities to promote community awareness and involvement.

Contact: Kathryn Tanner, director of Montana State University Office for Community Involvement, (406) 994-6902 or [email protected].

Upper Montclair, N.J. – Computer Learning Centers

Partnership: TEAM (Technology, Education, Access, and Mentoring) and Montclair State University.

Structure: Montclair State University computer science students will train community members to use the computers and software at the three established centers – Hollow Day Care Center, the Unitarian Church after school program and Day Nurseries, Inc. The centers will serve approximately 400 low-income and/or minority children and their families each year. The college students and tutors will also teach children how to use the Internet to connect to Montclair’s library, museum, government offices and social service agendas. Parents of participating children will be taught how to use the computer to connect to school teachers and counselors to foster better communication and involvement in their child’s educational progress. Children completing the program will receive a free computer that has been donated to the United Way of North Essex (another partner of TEAM) and upgraded by Montclair State University students.

Contact: Richard Peterson, professor of information and decision science, Montclair State University, (973) 655-7038 or [email protected].

Dayton, Ohio – Patterson-Kennedy Family Resource Center

Partnership: Patterson-Kennedy Elementary School Family Resource Center, and the University of Dayton.

Structure: The program will provide reliable, high-speed Internet access, instruction and programming to the underserved school children of Patterson-Kennedy Elementary School, their families and the residents of Rubicon Park, which includes two of Dayton's poorest neighborhoods. It will link new interactive learning environments at the elementary school to the University of Dayton's network. The elementary school will work with university faculty to develop technology-enhanced classroom instruction, especially in local and global citizenship. University students will become online tutors and mentors, administer an online kids voting program, coordinate an international pen pal exchange and share their technical expertise. The center will be a source of enrichment, self-esteem, and civic competency for elementary students, their parents and their neighbors.

Contact: Richard Ferguson, director of Institute for Neighborhood and Community Leadership, University of Dayton, (937) 229-4122 or [email protected].

Glenside, Pa. – The Beaver/Leeds Gifts Scholars Project

Partnership: Leeds Middle School and Beaver College.

Structure: Beaver College students will mentor low-income inner city middle school students in computer technology instruction. The instruction is structured through an existing scholarship program that names 40 eighth-grade students GIFTS scholars because they demonstrate academic potential but are otherwise at risk for dropping out of school. The program provides 50 to 75 percent of tuition to Beaver College, once a student is accepted.

Contact: Barbara Fleisher, assistant professor of education, Beaver College, (215) 635-2061 or [email protected].

Providence, R.I. – Mount Hope Technology History Program

Partnership: The Mt. Hope Learning Center and the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University.

Structure: The university center and the community center will work together to develop a collaborative technology program that will serve the Mount Hope neighborhood. The collaboration will enhance the Mount Hope Learning Center's existing technology education program; create a public history initiative in Mt. Hope; develop useful, neighborhood-specific content for the Web; connect Mount Hope residents with other educational and economic opportunities in the city; develop literacy and visual arts programming and strengthen the ties between the Mount Hope and Brown communities.

Contact: Peter Hocking, director, Swearer Center for Public Service, Brown University, (401) 863-2338 or [email protected].

Columbia, S.C. – Project Reflect

Partnership: Bethlehem Community Center C.A. Johnson cluster schools and Benedict College.

Structure: The program will provide after-school tutoring, mentoring and enrichment for elementary school students and their parents based on the use of technology to research legends from the local community. Community legends are people who graduated from the cluster schools and went on to become notable in their fields. Seventy students in grades K-5 will interview local legends.

Contact: Gwenda Greene, service learning director, Benedict College, (803) 253-5253 or [email protected].

Houston, Texas – Bridging the Digital Divide

Partnership: Advancement of Mexican Americans, a community-based organization servicing low-income, under-represented populations through the George I. Sanchez High School, and Houston Community College-Southeast.

Structure: The program will initiate a new, dual-credit high school/college computer technician and network certification curriculum as an investment in youth and their families in one of Houston's oldest neighborhoods. The program will enable students to enter the workforce immediately if they are interested. Those interested in seeking additional education will not have to repeat entry-level classes. Additionally, as civic investment, youth will volunteer five hours each week to community and technology-based activities in their East End communities.

Contact: Helga Mattei, director of community service and entrepreneurial programs, Houston Community College-Southeast, (713) 718-7506 or [email protected].

Hampton, Va. – Life Skills and Mentorship Program

Partnership: Hampton city schools and Hampton University.

Structure: The program will initiate a technology training and application certification program designed to provide essential life skills to a specified population of high school students as part of their continuing education curriculum. Four hundred Hampton University students will serve as mentors to 200 at-risk youth in the community. The youth will receive valuable instruction in the use and application of standard office technologies. Those include hands-on training in labs equipped with the latest interactive multimedia technologies and will include paper-based, computer-based and web-based materials. Participants will have opportunities to directly apply acquired technology skills and knowledge in a controlled setting through campus-community work study programs.

Contact: Debra White, assistant provost for technology, Hampton University, (757) 728-6988 or [email protected].

Spokane, Wash. – Native American Outreach Program

Partnership: Wellpinit School, Nespelem School, and Gonzaga University Department of Biology.

Structure: Gonzaga University biology students and faculty will travel to tribal schools where they will work with tribal leaders and teachers to engage K-12 students in exploring science. They will perform experiments on the environment, testing water and soil quality. The Internet will allow biology mentors to keep in contact with the students when they are not on-site – sharing stories and research. In addition, teachers from the tribal schools will travel to Gonzaga to conduct research with faculty in an effort to build a science curriculum for their schools. The students will also visit Gonzaga’s campus for several days each semester, stay overnight in the dormitories with their hosts and tour science labs.

Contact: Robert Prusch, professor of biology, Gonzaga University, (509) 323-6621 or [email protected].