Technology grantseekers learned in December that long-time friend Apple Computer would be putting its K-12 giving on hold. In an effort to sustain its long-term profitability, Apple has suspended all formal grants and equipment donations to K-12 schools, at least for 1999.

For 20 consecutive years, Apple had awarded grants to schools through its Education Grants program. Since 1978, Apple reportedly has awarded $30 million to 550 schools and institutions.

Now, a statement on the company’s web site reads, “. . . Apple made the decision to limit its involvement in grants and equipment loans to individuals and institutions in order to help the company maintain long-term profitability. Therefore, there will be no formal grant program or donations of cash or equipment to individuals or institutions this year.”

Apple’s decision comes just two months after the company announced its first profitable year since 1995. On Oct. 14, 1998, Apple co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs announced a profit of $309 million for fiscal year 1998. But that profit followed losses the previous year of more than $1 billion, as Apple steadily lost market share to companies whose computers run under competing operating systems.

Education Grants

Last year, Apple gave more than $2 million to K-12 schools: $1 million in Education Grants to 10 U.S. schools, and about $1 million in network software and training to 2,200 Los Angeles County schools.

The company’s Education Grants supported partnerships between K-12 schools and other institutions. Winning schools received hardware, software, training, and support for their projects. One such project was the Sapulpa, Okla., Junior High School’s Project TRANSPORT, a partnership with Oral Roberts University (ORU) in Tulsa, which received an Education Grant last summer.

Project TRANSPORT encourages eighth-graders pursue interdisciplinary studies using technology. In a unit on weather, for example, students track several variables using probes and a statewide system of weather towers, then share their predictions with local media and on the internet.

Students from ORU’s school of education help teach the technology and receive teaching practice in the process. For its part, Apple supplied presentation software, training, and G3 computers for from eight to 10 stations.

“It’s disappointing” that Apple has chosen not to continue the program this year, said Mike Shanahan, principal of Sapulpa Junior High School. Apple’s grant has had a big impact on student learning at Sapulpa, he said: “This has really been a boon to us.”

John Santoro, public relations manager for Apple’s education division, told STFB that Apple’s education discounts still represent a major contribution to schools. “Apple continues to recognize the importance of education,” Santoro said. “I’m sure [the company] will take a good hard look at the program again for next year.”