The resolution of the favored to bestow their good fortune on others is an ennobling principle of our society. And when the contribution enriches the learning in the nation’s schools, the benefits spread in incalculable ways. That phenomenon is being recognized this month at our Grants & Funding for School Technology Conference, where some of the nation’s leading philanthropies are receiving the eSchool News “Empowerment Awards.”

Seven outstanding foundations have been singled out for their powerful contribution in helping educators move from the old school to the eSchool. Here are the seven institutions that eSchool News’ “Empowerment Awards” selection panel invites you to recognize for their commitment to supporting innovative uses of technology in schools:

The AOL Foundation, a newcomer to K-12 corporate philanthropy recently announced its first round of awards to teachers to explore interactive technologies in their classrooms. The awards are part of the foundation’s Interactive Education Initiative (IEI), a new grant program designed to encourage innovative uses of technology in K-12 learning environments. Each of 54 teams of educators throughout the country were given grants of up to $7,500.

The AT&T Foundation has long been one of the leaders in the field of K-12 technology giving. The AT&T Learning Network, a five-year, $150 million program, was created to make AT&T’s technology and extensive support services available to every public and private elementary and secondary school in America. The initiative, launched in 1995, offers free software, hardware, resources and support to teachers, as well as $50 million in project grants.

Cisco Systems Foundation’s major initiative for K-12 schools is its Networking academies program, in which high school students can obtain the information needed to prepare them for the Cisco Certified Network Associate exam.

There are currently 949 academies in almost every state. Cisco also gives Virtual Schoolhouse Grants, annual, one-time awards of networking products, service, and training to schools. Contributions to Networking Academies from both Cisco Systems Inc. and the foundation come to approximately $18 million to date.

IBM’s “Reinventing Education” is the centerpiece of the company’s commitment to education. Reinventing Education was launched in 1994. Each of nine original sites chosen for an award is now using innovative technology solutions to support learning.

In October of 1997, IBM announced 12 new grants as part of Reinventing Education 2. The second round of grants brings IBM’s total contribution to K-12 schools to $35 million and stands to reach as many as ten million students.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s $80 million gift to the Idaho Department of Education might well be the largest cash gift to a school system from a private foundation. The gift will help Idaho schools buy computer equipment and provide teachers with training. It’s the largest share of a $110 million gift from the foundation to “energize” Idaho schools.

The Milken Family Foundation has recognized 1,170 outstanding K-12 teachers, counselors, librarians, principals, and other administrators with unrestricted awards of $25,000 each. In addition, the foundation also supports the Milken Exchange on Education Technology. The exchange consolidates and builds upon the foundation’s effort to advance the use of technology in schools, providing online resources to educators, conducting research and recommending public policy in the area of education technology.

The Rhode Island Foundation, an 80-year-old institution, is the panel’s selection in the area of community philanthropy. The foundation gave $5 million of its endowment this year to train 900 teachers in using computers in the classroom. Teachers were given fully loaded laptop computers. By the year 2000, the “Teachers and Technology” program will have trained about 2,500–roughly a third–of Rhode Island teachers in using technology.

Each of these outstanding organizations deserves the praise and admiration of grateful educators from coast to coast. eSchool News, through its first annual Empowerment Awards ceremony at the Grants & Funding for School Technology Conference, is proud to play a small part in honoring those who have done so much to advance the eSchool ideal.

Links:

The AOL Foundation
http://www.aol.com/corp/phil

AT&T Learning Network
http://www.att.com/learningnetwork/

Cisco Systems Foundation
http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/750/fdn_home.html

IBM’s “Reinventing Education”
http://www.ibm.com/IBM/ibmgives/k12ed/

Milken Family Foundation
http://www.mff.org/foundation

Rhode Island Network
http://www.ri.net/RINet