Cities get grants to boost schools' systems access

Cities get grants to boost schools' systems access

By Claire E. House

GCN Staff

Ten U.S. cities recently picked up $100,000 each for networking projects aimed at bridging the digital divide.

The grants were announced the day after President Clinton's State of the Union address directed national attention to the division between those who have access to technology and those who do not. 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif., made the awards as part of its Urban Challenge program.

The company last summer invited mayors to submit proposals for boosting technology access in their cities, specifically for youth.

'We can best expose our young people to all that technology can do,' said Mayor Marc Morial of New Orleans, a grant recipient.

Most of the projects will support technology in schools or distance-learning systems. They are as follows:

•'Baltimore will network the libraries of 187 schools, which will bring Internet access to all city schools.

•'Charleston, S.C., will develop and evaluate technology programs for possible expanded use in its schools, and it will use 3Com's NetPrep program to prepare high school students for information technology jobs.

•'Chaska, Minn., will build a metropolitan area network linking schools to libraries and city services, as well as the Internet.

•'Chester, Pa., will work with the state and a university to build a multimedia distance-learning system to train high school students for high-skill jobs.

•'Denver will combine voice and video on a citywide MAN to advance distance learning throughout the city. The city is also doubling the number of PCs available to students and expanding its IT infrastructure.

•'Glasgow, Ky., will install a MAN linking residents to public schools and city services. The city hopes to boost parental involvement in schools.

•'Madison, Wis., will enhance its school network by adding voice and video to allow videoconferencing and distance learning with a university.

•'New Orleans will install computer kiosks throughout the city as part of its YO!NOW! program to connect dropouts and at-risk students with training and job opportunities.

•'Pontiac, Mich., will build a voice, video and data MAN for the city's schools and libraries.

•'Providence, R.I., will network its last two non-networked high schools, completing Internet access for its schools. The city will incorporate NetPrep to prepare students for careers in networking.

3Com will grant another round of Urban Challenge funds this summer. The deadline for applying is April 15.

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