Boom in high-tech corporate giving to K-12 schools

K-12 education is the No. 1 giving priority for the top 100 technology companies, according to a new report that tracks the community activities of Silicon Valley corporations. And other technology companies around the country are expected to follow suit, allocating more time, resources, and money to equip the nation’s schools.

What’s behind the trend? A top technology executive told STFB that today’s high-tech grants maker is younger and more engaged in local education issues. Our interview with Aldus Corp. founder Paul Brainerd, page 2, will give you the inside scoop on how to use this knowledge to win top technology dollars.

Silicon Valley, named for the prevalence of technology-based companies near California’s Stanford University, includes corporations with K-12 grant programs such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple Computer. About 600 new companies crop up in the region each year, according to Philanthropy Journal Online.

The study shows that total giving in Silicon Valley by the 50 firms that track this portion of their giving rose from $29 million in 1994 to $49 million in 1997—a whopping 69 percent increase. When it comes to local giving, Silicon Valley firms target a surprising 24 percent of their contributions, $6 million, to K-12 education.

About 11 percent of the surveyed firms’ worldwide philanthropy goes to K-12 education (the report did not give include a worldwide total). That compares to the 4 percent companies nationwide give to elementary and secondary schools.

Schools far outpaced other giving areas such as housing, environmentalism/recycling, and health care. K-12 education even pulled ahead of higher education, long thought to be the favorite beneficiary of corporate technology donations.

Researchers from Stanford University surveyed Silicon Valley’s 100 largest companies to document the extent and nature of their involvement in the community for the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley report.

Lessons in K-12 technology giving

There’s good information in the Silicon Valley study that can help guide your fund raising strategy when approaching coporations for donations.

Silicon Valley companies are likely to favor partnerships with non-profit organizations and other corporations, and use more in-kind and product gifts than other corporations.

When approaching a technology corporation about gifts, think about asking for product, volunteer, or other in-kind contributions. The companies responding to the survey reported that nearly half (41 percent) of their total giving was in non-cash computer and office equipment.

Further, most of the firms reported having organized volunteer programs. The Silicon Valley study shows 71 percent in 1997 invested in volunteer time, up from 55 percent in 1994.

So take advantage of the trend by having company volunteers come in to your school to help out with wiring or teacher support and in-service training. You can later leverage the relationship to position your schools for a cash donation from the company.

Not giving enough?

The report contradicts critics of the technology industry, who’ve been saying it lags behind other corporate sectors in giving.

In fact, although the data so far have been scarce, recent surveys like the Silicon Valley report suggest that technology companies are generous when it comes to product and in-kind contributions.

The Conference Board found in 1996 that the computer and office-equipment industry allocated 2.6 percent of its U.S. pre-tax income to giving, a portion that is “well ahead of what industries are giving,” according to research associate Audris Tillman.

The other good news for schools looking for technology dollars is that computer companies are giving more than other kinds of corporations. According to the Silicon Valley study, the area’s firms not only give more of their pre-tax dollars but also more dollars per employee than non-technology companies do.


FamilyEducation Network to fund model schools

The FamilyEducation Network (FEN), which provides web-based services to parents and schools, has announced a new initiative that aims to help communities use technology to improve education.

Lighthouse 2000 will set up model communities in 20 to 30 school districts across the country. The goal of the program will be to “accelerate the use of technology to connect communities so the whole village is involved in teaching kids,” FEN president Jon Carson told STFB.

FEN started as an online resource for parents. Last year, it began offering web-based services to schools. An unprecedented $14 million deal with America Online (AOL) allowed FEN to expand its offerings to schools, teachers, and parents. Over 400 school districts have signed up for a free web site, according to Carson.

FEN is partnering with the American Association of School Administrators and the AOL Foundation to fund the project. In a few cases, a limited number of cash grants may be given. But the scope of the program isn’t “writing a check,” Carson said. Instead, FEN will send resource people out to districts to work with schools to build out web sites, set up teacher training, and coordinate fundraising and grantswriting efforts.

Each district will make a commitment to implement 80 percent of the FEN model, said Carson. That model includes eMail accounts for all teachers, web sites for all schools, and internet access for all parents.

Carson said that communities will be selected based on an application process. Any district is eligible to apply, but Carson said those with diverse populations will be most competitive. One of the criteria that the selection committee will be looking for, said Carson, is the “commitment to embrace the vision.”

FEN is looking for corporate partners to expand their offerings through Lighthouse 2000. Carson said he hoped to be able to give out more cash grants in the second year of the program, and expand the number of communities the project can support.

For more information on how to apply, contact Bob Block: (617) 542-6500, ext. 129,


Grants: Opportunities


Dow Chemical Company

Each year Dow Chemical Company supports school districts in and around communities where the company is located. Grants focus on math and science, teacher training, and parent involvement projects, and Dow gives special consideration to programs that increase participation and achievement of girls and minorities in math and science. Proposals and related questions should be directed to: The Dow Chemical Company, Education Initiatives, 47 Building, Midland, MI 48667.

Deadline: Sept. 30

(517) 636-2815


Education Development and Demonstration (EDD)

These grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) support the development and trial implementation of innovative courses, curricula, and instructional approaches to the teaching of humanities. Special consideration will be given to proposals that develop effective uses of technology. EDD projects are funded for up to three years. The NEH strongly suggests you submit a preliminary draft of your proposal at least six weeks before the grant deadline.

Deadline: Oct. 15

(202) 606-8380

National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) Leadership Grants

NFIE, a division of the National Education Association, will award 25 grants of up to $1,000 each to fund professional development projects for teachers. These grants are a great opportunity for teachers to learn how to apply technology in their classrooms, but they don’t support major technology purchases or supplemental salaries that typically are a school’s responsibility.

Deadline: Oct. 15

(202) 822-7840


NEC Foundation Grants

NEC is a global computer and communications corporation. Its foundation promotes the application of technology to advance education and assist people with disabilities. The foundation awards technology grants twice per year. There is no formal application, but NEC encourages you to submit a one-page query pre-proposal.

Deadline: Nov. 1

(516) 753-7021


Technology and Media Services for Individuals With Disabilities Grants

The Department of Education is accepting applications under the Special Education: Technology and Media Services for Individuals With Disabilities program.

Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Students with Disabilities supports projects for preschool, elementary, and secondary school students with disabilities. Projects should select and describe a technology-based approach to improving literacy, improving access to and participation in the general curriculum, and improving accountability and participation in educational reform.

The maximum award is $200,000 per year. The Department estimates making 15 awards under this priority. Requests for applications and general information should be addressed to the Grants and Contracts Services Team, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 3317, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2641. The preferred method for requesting information is to FAX your request to: (202) 205-8717. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the TDD number: (202) 205-8953.

Deadline: Dec. 18

(202) 260-9182


The AOL Foundation Open to K-12 teachers, education leaders, parents, and other community leaders, the grants will be awarded to those who develop innovative and creative ways to enhance student learning through the online medium. Special emphasis will be placed on proposals that reach socio-economically disadvantaged children and communities. For more information, contact Jill Stephens, Corporate Outreach Director or eMail:

(703) 265-1342

see profile, page 4


Ameritech donated $3.2 million to K-12 schools in 1997. Through its SuperSchool program, the company supports projects that help school leaders learn how to use technology in their schools. It also funds alliances among schools so they may benefit from telecommunications technologies they otherwise couldn’t afford. Ameritech awards are limited to schools in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

(312) 750-5037

Digital Corporate Contributions Program

Digital Equipment Corporation seeks to promote academic excellence through the accessibility of technology in the classroom. Digital provides cash or equipment grants to schools who can demonstrate a special need or an innovative use for the assistance. You are encouraged to call the Corporate Contributions office to discuss your project or contact the office by eMail:

(508) 493-6550

Eaton Corporation Foundation

The Eaton Corporation Foundation funds projects that prepare minority youth for employment, particularly those which focus on math, science, and technology careers. Grants range from $1,000 to $25,000, with over $1 million awarded last year. Schools and non-profits are eligible, but the foundation restricts its giving to the 30 states with company operations. Call for application guidelines.

(216) 523-5000

Great Asante Grant Program

This is a relatively new program that awards free computer networks to schools. Grants worth up to $14,000 provide all the hardware and software necessary to network 50 school computers. Application guidelines are available at the web site.

JDL Technologies (800) 535-3969

Asante (408) 435-8401

Hewlett-Packard Grants

Hewlett-Packard makes cash or equipment donations for model programs supporting national K-12 math and science initiatives. HP’s Contributions Board makes quarterly funding decisions. Preference is given to projects that are national in scope, can be replicated nationally, or are located in communities where HP has a corporate facility. Applicants must submit a proposal summary form (available on the web site) and 5-page narrative.

(415) 857-5197

Intel Foundation

Intel funds programs that advance math, science, or technology education, promote science careers among women and underrepresented minorities, or increase public understanding of technology and its impact. National grants apply to nationwide projects or pilots for national programs. Community grants apply to projects located in a community where Intel has a major facility: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, or Washington. An application is available at the web site.

Mars Foundation

The Mars Foundation offers a variety of grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for K-12 curriculum development, teacher professional development, computer and equipment acquisitions, and capital building projects. For additional information, write to Sue Martin, Mars Foundation, 6885 Elm Street, McLean, VA 22101.

Motorola Foundation

Grants from $1,000 to $10,000 that focus on enhancing math, science, and technology opportunities for minorities and the economically-disadvantaged are available from the Motorola Foundation. Contact: Program Manager, Motorola Foundation, 1303 East Algonquin Road,

Schaumburg, IL 60196.

(708) 576-6200

Pfizer Education Initiative

Although the Pfizer Foundation is primarily concerned with health care, you might be able to slip in through an education program called “Utilizing New Technology.” Grants of up to $10,000 are given for teacher training or the application of technology in K-12 math and science classrooms. Applications may be submitted any time.

Sprint Foundation

Don Forsythe, a Sprint Foundation program officer, said a limited number of grants would be available for projects in areas with a significant employee presence, primarily Kansas City, Atlanta, Dallas, and Sacramento. The Sprint Foundation supports projects that foster school reform through the use of new technologies and communications media and through fresh approaches to the enhancement of teachers’ skills. Schools and other education-related non-profit agencies can apply for grants totaling about $500,000 per year. Call to talk to a program officer first. Or check out Sprint’s web site for application guidelines.

(913) 624-3343

$3.9 million from National

Endowment for the Humanities

For curriculum development, teacher enrichment, and technology projects, more than $3.9 million to 55 K-12 teachers and institutions. Twenty-nine teachers received summer professional development stipends totaling more than $3 million, and 20 schools received a total of $622,000 through a new NEH initiative called “Schools for a New Millennium.” Building on NEH’s “Teaching with Technology” initiative, “Schools for a New Millennium” enables selected schools to become models for using computer technology in day-to-day teaching.

Laguna Middle School, on the Laguna Pueblo Indian Reservation in New Mexico, was awarded $31,240 for a project involving use of electronic resources to explore the intersection of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with the history and literature of northern New Mexico Pueblo cultures.

For additional information on this round of funding, including summaries of each program, visit

(202) 606-8400

$33 million from Texas Education Agency

For the state’s Technology Integration in Education program, which is funded through the federal Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, $33 million to 38 Texas school districts and consortia.

(512) 463-9734

$15 million from National Science Foundation

For the Urban Systemic Initiative program to improve math, science, and technology education among low-income school systems, $15 million over five years to the Duval County (Fla.) public schools.

(703) 306-1234

$2.1 million from Idaho Council for Technology in Education

Through the federal Technology Literacy Challenge Fund program, $2.1 million to 23 Idaho school districts.

(208) 332-6972

$2 million from Apple Computer

For its Education Grants program, which supports innovative uses of technology in the classroom, over $1 million to 10 U.S. schools. In an unrelated grant, Apple also has pledged up to $1 million in network software and training to 2,200 Los Angeles County schools.

(800) 974-2974

$2 million from Southwestern Bell Foundation

To develop educational programs using interactive television and other telecommunications systems, $2 million to 79 public and private schools and districts throughout the state of Missouri.

(800) 591-9663

$500,000 from Cisco Systems, Inc.

Through its Virtual Schoolhouse Grants program, which helps wire schools to the internet, $500,000 in cash, networking equipment, and training to 50 U.S. schools.

(800) 553-6387

$500,000 from The Learning Company

To help promote literacy and reading education in early childhood programs, $500,000 worth of The Learning Co.’s “Reader Rabbit” software to the 50 largest K-12 public school districts that make up the Council of Great City Schools.

(800) 685-6322

$175,000 from Compaq Computer Corp.

Through its Teacher Development Grants program, which recognizes creative profes

sional development projects, more than $175,000 in cash and technology products to 34 K-12 schools.

(800) 888-3224

$60,000 from Toyota USA Foundation

To conduct distance-education teacher training in rural areas of Utah, $60,000 to the Utah Educational Network of Salt Lake City.

(310) 618-6766

$15,000 from W. K. Kellogg Foundation

To upgrade the computer and technology systems of this rural high school, $15,000 to the Arthur County School in Arthur, Neb.

(616) 968-1611


Corporate technology funds: new strategies for schools: Interview with Paul Brainerd, Social Venture Partners

Paul Brainerd, founder of the desktop publishing giant Aldus Corp., began in 1994 the nonprofit Social Venture Partners (SVP), a partnership that gives time, money, and expertise to the Seattle community. Brainerd told STFB that K-12 schools should capitalize on their special advantages when approaching technology corporations.

The technology industry’s giving decisions are being made by a younger, more engaged set of corporate players, Brainerd said. More and more high-tech companies give employees at all levels the responsibility to determine community needs, develop grant guidelines, and make the actual funding decisions. Typically, these are executives in their 30s and 40s.

“They have a different perspective about community giving than their parents, who wrote checks or served on committees,” he said. “They want to see accountability, they want to see a plan of action.”

More than giving money, Brainerd said, executives of technology corporations want to give their expertise and time. “They’re more engaged, more proactive.” And they rate education as their No. 1 community concern. “There’s a tremendous opportunity in K-12,” Brainerd said.

That translates into a strategy that starts with recruiting members of your local community to volunteer within the school. Brainerd suggests getting high-tech parents to volunteer in schools. They might help with wiring projects such as Net Day, assist teachers, or provide their technical know-how to troubleshooting. After you’ve gotten them involved in school issues, Brainerd said, then you can move up parent volunteers a giving tier: soliciting a cash donation from their high-tech employer.


Schools cleared for $20 million in telecommunication funds

Just before it shut down for the summer, Congress rejected an effort to cut schools and libraries out of one of the Commerce Department’s largest telecommunications funding programs.

Days before the August recess, the Senate passed a Commerce spending amendment that would allow schools and libraries to apply for funds from the Telecommunications Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) after all.

The Commerce committee originally had voted in early July to prohibit organizations eligible for eRate funding from applying for TIIAP funds, arguing that money from TIIAP and the eRate cover the same expenses.

Staffers for those senators backing the original measure say schools and similar institutions shouldn’t get other government grants if they are eligible for the eRate—the internet-connection program many of these same lawmakers are simultaneously seeking to undermine.

The controversial $1.67 billion eRate program was established as part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to wire schools and libraries to the internet. Those institutions had originally requested more than $2 billion in internet connection discounts.

But under pressure from telecommunications companies, who help subsidize eRate funding, and Congress, the eRate’s budget was cut nearly in half and will be distributed over 18 months instead of 12.

TIIAP funds go to projects such as creating computer connections between schools and hospital pediatrics units.

The Senate also restored $9 million to TIIAP’s budget, passing an amendment sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. The total amount of the federal program stands at $20 million.

The committee originally recommended slashing the budget by half, from $22 million to $11 million.

TIIAP—funded through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce—already has received $315 million in requests for the current grant cycle.

The House was expected to pass its own Commerce Department spending bill, appropriating $16 million to TIIAP. Members of the House and Senate will come together in the coming months to hammer out the differences in the two versions.

TIIAP funding opp

TIIAP was created in 1994 to help schools and other non-profit organizations use network technology. The program is known for funding unusual, innovative projects of schools, libraries, hospitals, public safety entities, and state and local governments.

To apply for a TIIAP grant, you must request an application kit (1999 isn’t available yet, but you can still review 1998). You can do that by visiting the web site, sending an eMail to, or calling the agency at (202) 482-2048. You can also write to: Stephen Downs, Director, TIIAP, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, NTIA, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 4096, Washington, DC 20230.


Foundation Profile: The AOL Foundation

The AOL Foundation

22000 AOL Way, Dulles, VA 20166

phone: (703) 265-1342 • fax: (703) 265-2135 eMail:

Established October 1997 The philanthropic arm of internet content provider America Online enters the education arena with $1 million in grants to give


To pioneer the development of strategies and programs that leverage the power of the emerging global medium to benefit society by improving the lives of families and children, and empowering the disadvantaged.

Board Chairman

Jim Kimsey, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, America Online


Steve Case, Chairman and CEO; Kathy Bushkin, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer; Ken Novack, Chief Advisor; Mark Stavish, Senior Vice President, Human Resources; Jean Villanueva, Former Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications; George Vradenburg III, Senior Vice President and General Counsel.

Key Programs

The foundation’s Interactive Education Initiative provides teams of educators and others with seed money to develop and implement innovative, hands-on projects that improve student performance through the integration of interactive technology into the learning environment. Grant proposals are solicited through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP), and reviewed through a multi-step process. Grant recipients receive other forms of support and participate in an online network. Teams of teachers, administrators, parents and community leaders are eligible to apply for grants of up to $7,500.

Program Overview

According to Jill Stephens, director of outreach, the AOL Foundation will give $1 million in grants in both 1998 and 1999. For the 1998 year, said Stephens, over 500 grant applicants responded to the RFP by the April deadline. The AOL Foundation also gives in-kind contributions, and donates hardware to schools in empowerment zones.

Through the Interactive Education Initiative, teams of teachers, administrators, parents, and/or community leaders throughout the United States can apply for grants of up to $7,500 to develop and implement innovative uses of interactive technology to enhance educational outcomes for K-12 students.

In the pilot year of this initiative, the AOL Foundation will award in the range of 50 to 100 grants. In some instances, grants will be supplemented by in-kind support such as free America Online accounts, computer donations, and other types of assistance. AOL also plans to create an online network linking all grant recipients so they can easily share experiences, report outcomes, and seek ideas and guidance. Ultimately, the goal is to create an ever-expanding network of projects, teams, and education leaders that, over time, will revolutionize how interactive technology is used to enhance student learning.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

The AOL Foundation invites teams involving K-12 public schools and/or other non-profit educational entities throughout the United States to apply for an Interactive Education Grant. Teams may involve teachers, administrators, parents, and/or other community representatives. Once grant decisions are made, the grants themselves will be awarded to the sponsoring school or non-profit organization.

Application Process

Stephens said the 1999 grant deadline will be around early February. To apply, get the Interactive Education Grant Application Form from the AOL Foundation’s web site. Or call the foundation to request an application and guidelines: (703) 265-1342.


Funding Toolbox: Prospecting: do your homework! (Yes, you can use the net!)

With the erosion of the eRate and Congressional tinkering with other funding pots, you’d be ill-advised to put all of your technology eggs in the federal basket. So to speak.

Instead, you want to diversify the sources where you get your technology dollars. Spread the burden around a little. That way, if a favorite foundation source suddenly decides to scale back its dollars or Congress opts to slash a budget, you won’t be left out in the cold.

Don’t waste your time by going to funders who won’t fund you. Spend a little time up front on prospect research. Identify possible grant makers whose giving priorities match your needs. It’s crucial to do your research if you want to zero in on those most likely to find your technology program.

How do you get this information? Why, the internet, of course.

Before you get started

The very first thing you want to do is know your project. You need to have a good understanding of what you want this money for before you can identify who might give it to you. Sketch out as many of the particulars as you can: how much you need, the goals and objectives of the project, and how long it will take. Then you can come up with a list of funding sources.

Some experts suggest that you try to identify five prospective funders for each fundable component of your project. One component might be the purchase of computers, for example; another, teacher training; the third, a handbook you want to write on using technology in the classroom that your project will generate. With this formula, your goal is to come up with a list of 15 prospective funders for this project.

Prospect Worksheet

When I’m scouring a foundation directory for prospects, I keep a batch of prospect worksheets at my elbow to fill out when I spot a funder that could be a likely funding source.

On these worksheets I record the following information:

• Name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and eMail address of contact person (usually the program officer for education projects).

• The mission of the funder and its funding areas.

• Funding priorities (every funder has priorities, and you can usually find them in a grants directory or in the funder’s annual report).

• Financial data: total assets, total grants paid, grant ranges/amount needed, period of funding/project (this will help you decide which funders are able to give the kind of money you’re looking for, when you need it).

• Geographic limits (. . . if any. Funders often cite receiving applications from those living outside their geographic giving area as their number one aggravation: make sure you’re in an area where your prospective funder gives).

• Types of support (whether they give matching grants, in-kind donations, etc.).

• Populations served.

• Types of past recipients, their names and project titles (so you can call and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing their proposal or project narrative with you).

• Inside people to know (these might be officers, trustees, a receptionist, past recipient, etc.).

• Application information (printed guidelines/application form, how to approach initially, deadlines, and board meeting dates).

• The source of your information about the funder.

• Space for notes, follow-up steps you want to take, etc.

You might want to prepare a prospect worksheet form to help you keep track of all this information. The Foundation Center has a great worksheet available on its web site that’s free to download or print out.

Funds for School Tech Resources

You’ve already taken a great first step in the prospect research process: subscribing to School Technology Funding Bulletin. It’ll help keep you on track and up-to-date on federal, private, and corporate sources for funding for school technology on a monthly basis.

In addition to this newsletter, eSchool News offers two additional resources aimed at helping K-12 leaders find and secure the necessary funds for their schools: The School Technology Funding Directory, a comprehensive guide to over 150 sources of federal funding sources and private and corporate foundations across the nation; and a conference called Grants & Funding for School Technology: Proven Strategies for Capturing Your Piece of the $30 Billion Pie.

The conference will be held on Nov. 5 and 6 in Alexandria, Va. (outside of D.C.) this year. For more information about the directory or the conference, or to request a free registration brochure, please call (800) 394-0115 or check out our web site:

Internet Resources

The internet is fast becoming the prospect researcher’s best friend (after the program officer). One of your first stops should be The Foundation Center. It provides hundreds of links to hundreds of private, corporate, and community foundation grant makers; a tutorial on the grant-seeking process and proposal writing, and helpful links to nonprofit organizations.

A couple of sites on the internet give you lots of links to funders and information specifically about technology for schools:

• NASA K12 Internet Initiative:Grant Info

• The Annenberg/CPB’s SAMI (Science and Math Initiative) Mini-Grants Page

• Pitsco’s Launch to Grants and Funding

• Computer Educators (ICE)

Of course you shouldn’t forget the U.S. Department of Education ( and the U.S. Department of Education’s Grants & Contracts Information (

Find other federal grants programs in the Federal Register online, or you can order the publication by calling (202) 512-1800.

You can also find links to foundations at The Council on Foundations, Fundsnet, and The Internet Prospector.


One Superintendent’s Blue-Ribbon Recipe For Wiring An Entire District

Converge, September 1998, p. 61

The successful launch of an ambitious plan to wire the entire Iowa City school district depended on a methodical and dedicated series of steps orchestrated by the district’s superintendent, Barbara Grohe.

The first step was to conduct a needs assessment. Grohe found a parent volunteer who put a list together of necessary equipment, costs, and timetables for implementation.

The bill came to $500,000 — but Grohe knew that before looking for funds she had to put together a sensible plan and mission for the use of technology in her district’s 24 schools.

To raise funds for the project — dubbed SchoolNet — Grohe went to her local chamber of commerce with the proposal; her plan convinced the chamber to make her district’s technology initiative a top funding priority. The chamber then solicited pledges and donations from local businesses.

Overall, Grohe recommends the following tips to anyone trying to start or manage a wiring project:

  1. Have a clear vision of the project that can be easily articulated to constituents.

  2. Take time to build support among staff, administrators, school board members, and local community and business leaders.

  3. Create a sense of excitement and anticipation in students and their parents so as many people as possible begin talking positively about the project.

  4. Solicit volunteers for every step of the program, including planning, publicity, and fundraising.

  5. Address politically sensitive aspects of your plan head-on and early in the process.

  6. Hold press conferences and generate publicity to maintain the project’s momentum.

  7. Forge partnerships with as many local businesses as possible, large and small.

Ten Critical Steps School Boards Must Take To Implement Their Technology Programs

Electronic School, September 1998, p. A28

Schools boards that oversee any major technology launch will benefit from these steps that an Illinois school board was careful to take:

  1. Articulate a clear vision for the project. A mission statement with goals and general deadlines will drive the entire project forward and help everyone evaluate their progress.

  2. Derive a cost estimate. Getting an accurate handle on the costs of a project will probably require an outside technology consultant’s expertise.

  3. Find funding. You can put out a bond issue, take money from reserves, seek state money, or organize grass-roots fundraising efforts.

  4. Form district-wide committees to make purchasing recommendations. These committees should take stock of existing equipment in schools and evaluate future technology needs.

  5. Create a time line. A schedule that tracks the purchase, installation, and implementation of each piece of technology will establish accountability and maintain a sense of progress.

  6. Set up teacher training programs. You must decide who is going to train your teachers, on what schedule, and by what method.

  7. Develop protocols for bid approval. Many school boards need to consult with their attorneys to craft competitive bid processes and state-compliant purchasing practices.

  8. Draft computer use policies. Once the technology is in place, your students will need guidance against misusing and abusing the technology. Write an acceptable-use policy that outlines responsibilities and consequences for violations.

  9. Hire support personnel. The authors set up three levels of support in their school district: a district-wide technology coordinator (writes budgets, specifies purchases, and oversees teacher training), a network administrator (maintains and repairs the network and individual machines), and building-level coordinators (provides daily support to students and teachers).

  10. Keep evaluating the plan. The school board must regularly meet to ensure deadlines are met, the project’s mission statement is followed, and unexpected mishaps are corrected.

Lessons From The Nation’s First School District To Install Cutting-Edge “DSL” Internet Technology

Electronic School, September 1998, p. A22

A Utah school district recently became the first in the nation to install a new technology called DSL — a way of connecting to the Internet that is far cheaper and faster than anything previously available. (“DSL” is short for “digital subscriber line”.)

DSL, available from local phone companies, works over ordinary phone lines and uses a special modem to connect your school’s network or computers to the Internet.

What’s so amazing are the lightning-fast speeds DSL offers for the price: you can get speeds 3 to 25 times faster than a 56-K modem for between $60 and $200 per month. At these speeds, web pages can download almost instantaneously.

But this pioneering Utah district’s experiences do teach some lessons for dealing with DSL.

First, DSL service can be hard to find. Local telephone companies are rolling out DSL only in select, limited areas, and many locations lack the upgraded phone lines and switches DSL requires. Second, when telephone companies do offer the service, they market primarily to home consumers and small businesses — not schools.

How did Utah’s Davis County schools become the first on the block to get DSL? They were aggressive with their local phone company, US West, and they had to agree to be available for publicity when US West starting marketing its DSL service to consumers.

US West also wanted to ensure that the infrastructure they installed to support the school system could later be used to serve nearby home and small business markets. Hence, US West wanted assurances that district and school officials would encourage parents to use the Internet to connect to school web sites to bolster consumer demand for DSL.