Grant Opportunites

Equipment Donations

K-12 World Server Grant

NEC Computer Systems Division and JDL Technologies have teamed up to offer 20 Express5800 K-12 World Internet Access Servers through a grant program open exclusively to schools. The grants include a complete solution featuring NEC Express5800 server hardware, JDL’s K-12 World CyberLibrary Server software with SmartFilter option, one day of on-site installation, one year of monthly SmartFilter updates, and one year of toll-free support. Applications are due to JDL by April 30. Contact: JDL Technologies, 5555 West 78th Street, Suite E, Edina, MN 55349-2702; fax (612) 946-1835; eMail

(800) 535-3969

SolidWorks High School Grant Program

SolidWorks Corp., a leading provider of 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) software, will award 200 licenses of its software to qualifying high schools that have instructional CAD programs. The licensing package includes SolidWorks 98Plus, a Windows-based 3-D mechanical design product; PhotoWorks, an integrated rendering application; a set of SolidWorks 98Plus training manuals; and one year of educational subscription service and support from an authorized SolidWorks reseller. Complete information and an application form are available on the company’s web site. Applications will be accepted through May 31, 1999.

(800) 693-9000

Milken Educator Virtual Workspace

The Milken Educator Virtual Workspace (MEVW), a product of the Milken Family Foundation, is a collaborative software program that allows you to use the web to create and participate in online learning communities. Previously available only to recipients of the foundation’s National Educator Award for use in distance education and professional development projects, MEVW is now free to anyone who submits an educational project proposal and obtains the foundation’s approval. MEVW requires a Netscape Navigator 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher web browser.

(310) 998-2800

Global Schoolhouse Software Offer

The Global SchoolNet Foundation (GSN), a nonprofit public service corporation, is offering free software to members of its Global Schoolhouse, which provides meaningful opportunities for using the internet to improve teaching and learning. Joining the Global Schoolhouse is free, and members are eligible to receive unlimited copies of selected software titles by paying only the cost of shipping and handling. According to GSN, new titles are available each month. February’s titles included “Reader Rabbit: Math Journey,” “Success Builder: Algebra,” and “Compton’s Complete Reference Collection.”

(760) 721-2972

MAGIX Software Grant

MAGIX Entertainment Corp. is offering its MAGIX Music Maker and Music Studio software free of charge to any interested high schools. The software allows students to compose, arrange, mix, and record their own musical creations on a computer using different genres of royalty-free music samples. The free CD-ROM contains software retailing at more than $100.

(888) 866-2449


Grant Deadlines


Teacher Enhancement

This NSF grant supports professional development projects in the context of improving science, math, and technology education. One of the program’s goals is to strengthen the teacher workforce by increasing the understanding and use of effective educational technologies. Last year, the program awarded grants of up to $1.2 million per year for 3-5 years. K-12 districts are most likely to receive funding in two categories: Local Systemic Change and Educational Leadership.

Deadline: April 1

(703) 306-1613

Humanities Focus Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides grants of $10,000 to $25,000 for teams of faculty to expand their knowledge of humanities topics and integrate what they have learned into their teaching. These grants may be used to explore ways of using technology to teach the humanities, for example, and could fund release time, cooperative ventures, investigation of model programs, or logistical support.

Deadline: April 15

(202) 606-8400

Advanced Technological Education (ATE)

This NSF program promotes the exemplary education of technicians at the two-year college level and quality technological preparation at the secondary level. Projects require partnerships of two-year colleges with four-year colleges and universities, secondary schools, businesses, and/or government agencies. The program supports instructional materials development, professional development for faculty and teachers, technical experiences for students and teachers, and/or instrumentation and laboratory improvement. Final proposals are due October 15, but a preliminary proposal is required.

Deadline: April 15

(703) 306-1620


Program for Gender Equity in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology (SMET)

The purpose of this NSF grant is to raise the interest and achievement of girls and women in SMET education. Proposals are being accepted under the category Small Experimental Projects. These projects address critical transition points that facilitate or hinder the successful participation of girls in SMET education. They are typically small, focused projects involving only one or a few institutions to develop or test an innovative approach to a problem area. Up to $100,000 for up to 18 months is available for each successful project.

Deadline: May 1

(703) 306-1636

Regional Grants

U.S. West Foundation Community Outreach

The U.S. West Foundation is seeking proposals for using technology to improve education and provide equity for all students. The foundation is particularly interested in developing partnerships between universities and K-12 educators or between businesses, social service agencies, and school districts. Projects must demonstrate how technology will assist a school system in meeting its mission and achieving program objectives. Proposals that simply request hardware or software will not be considered without a well-developed plan on how the technology will be used. Most grants are less than $10,000. Application are accepted from within the U.S. West service area, which includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Deadline: April 1

(800) 843-3383

Arts Education @Work Grants

With financial help from the GE Fund, the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education (NFIE) is offering a regional grants program to support the development of innovative arts curricula that make effective use of new technologies. The program encourages public high school teachers, especially arts specialists, to collaborate with expert technology-using teachers and other partners to develop innovative arts curricula to prepare students for emerging employment opportunities in the arts. Applicants must be a public high school teacher in the states of Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, or South Carolina. The grant amount is $5,000, and NFIE will award up to seven grants in 1999. Funds may be used for hardware, software, human resources, or other costs directly related to helping teachers acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to develop a new technology/arts curriculum.

Deadline: April 3

(202) 822-7840

NextDay Teacher Innovation Grants

Sponsored by the Michigan Jobs Commission and open to teams of Michigan educators, this program seeks innovative uses of existing technologies to improve student learning. Teams must have at least three members, at least one of whom is a K-12 teacher. The proposed project must target K-12 teachers or students in one of these categories: Student-Based Projects, Professional Development, or Online Content Development. Up to $10,000 will be awarded for each project, $2,500 of which may be spent on technology. Last year, 118 teachers (out of 400 applicants) received grants totalling more than $600,000. The entire application process is conducted online.

Deadline: April 15

(517) 373-9808


North Dakota senator wants to ban sex offenders from internet

A North Dakota legislator is fighting to keep sex offenders off the internet. State Sen. Aaron Krauter, D-Regent, has introduced a bill that would bar internet service providers in North Dakota from having registered sex offenders as customers.

“We should make it as difficult as possible for sex offenders to get online,” Krauter said.

The bill would require the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation to distribute its list of registered sex offenders to every internet service provider in the state. Providers would ostensibly use the list to refuse to sell service to anyone on it.

The affected internet providers would include North Dakota’s colleges and private businesses, as well as companies that sell access to the computer network.


Newslines–Idaho students favor more classrooms over computers

Feeling the pinch of crowded schools, some Idaho students say they are willing to give up computers in exchange for a little breathing room. Of 227 students who responded to an education survey by the Idaho Statesman newspaper about how to improve area schools, almost half had concerns about crowded or run-down facilities.

But state schools Superintendent Marilyn Howard said cutting back on computer purchases will not answer students’ underlying concerns.

“The issue of crowdedness might have to do with too many students, or from a student’s point of view, not enough individual attention,” she said. “Instead of talking about facilities, they’re talking about wishing they had closer contact with adults in schools.”


Newslines–Nevada budget would kill computers-in-classrooms program

A move to put more computers in classrooms is one of the educational programs that would be eliminated in Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn’s proposed budget for the next two years.

In 1997, as part of former Gov. Bob Miller’s school upgrade efforts, $27 million was budgeted for a multi-year plan to put a computer in every classroom. Another $8.6 million was approved for training, repair, and maintenance of the computers.

But there’s no money in Guinn’s proposed budget to continue the purchases next year.

Guinn also has eliminated a $2 million-a-year “School to Careers” program started in 1995, and cut the budget for student proficiency testing from $4.4 million to $1.1 million a year.

Despite the cuts, the Guinn administration says school aid is getting a bigger share of the state’s budget than any time in the last 10 years.


Staff can’t promote religion via school eMail

Religion is a prohibited topic in eMail messages sent by school staff members, according to a new policy of the Aberdeen, S.D., school board.

District eMail accounts are school property, said Superintendent Brad Meeks, and employees should not use them to send religious messages.

Teachers and other employees may use their accounts for personal messages, just as they use the telephone to call home, he said. But they cannot promote religion online.

The board voted 4-3 to approve the policy, which was approved by district lawyers, according to the Associated Press.

Board member Paige Anderson, who voted against the new rule, said the constitutional separation of church and state should prohibit teachers from promoting religion in class, but should not curtail freedom of speech between friends.

“It does not mean that people can’t express their religious views,” Anderson said of the First Amendment. “Can we as a board restrict religion?”

Teachers should be allowed to eMail one another about church camp, for example, she said.

The new rule also bans staffers from discussing politics and sex in eMail messages, but the board seemed more unanimous in its support for those restrictions.

Anderson introduced an amendment to eliminate religion from being one of the policy’s taboos. But her amendment failed by the same one-vote margin that ultimately passed the eMail restrictions.


FYI: This Month’s Links

American Association of School Administrators

American Library Association

Council of Chief State School Officers

Federal Communications Commission

Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Rep. Bob Franks

Sen. John McCain


eRate news and notes…

New web address

The SLD has a new web site address:<

The agency’s new web address reflects its merger with the the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) on Jan. 1, 1999. The parent USAC web site is:

The SLD reports that its web site will be designed in a similar fashion. Comments and suggestions about improving the SLD web site may be sent to:

The SLD intends to develop a more user-friendly structure and will be incorporating a search engine, a more widely accessible online Form 471, and a detailed site map. For the next six months, users will be redirected to the new URL when logging onto the original web address (

Update on appeals process

Appeals are “going more slowly than anticipated,” according to SLD President Kate Moore, who updated the SLD board at its April 19 meeting. The SLD has received 1,800 appeals of first-year funding decisions, or about 6 percent of the total applications filed, Moore said. As of April 19, decisions had been issued on 465 of those appeals.

Moore expects all appeals to be reviewed by early May. Unfortunately, no appeals will be funded until all have been evaluated and the SLD can assess the impact of successful appeals on the contingency fund set aside for them. Moore also said the 30-day deadline for filing an appeal is being strictly enforced.

If your appeal was turned down by the SLD, you can re-appeal directly to the FCC. Note, however, that the FCC appeals process is generally a more formal and time-consuming process. The FCC also has tended to view the rules of the eRate more restrictively than the SLD.

Update on Service Provider Invoice and BEAR Forms

The SLD has established a phone number for tracking the status of a Service Provider Invoice Form (Form 474) or BEAR Form if you haven’t received payment in a timely manner.

It’s the SLD’s goal to process service provider invoices and BEAR Forms within 20 days of receiving them. Allowing for delivery time, you should receive payment on an invoice or notification on a BEAR Form in about 30 days.

If you submitted a Form 474 more than 40 days ago, but you haven’t received payment on that invoice and haven’t heard from the SLD, you can check on the status of that invoice by calling (973) 428-7335 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.

Similarly, if you submitted a BEAR Form more than 40 days ago, but you haven’t received a BEAR notification letter from the SLD, you can call the same number listed above.

If you have questions about how to complete either form, you should call the SLD’s regular customer service help line at (888) 203-8100.

SLD announces new general counsel

On March 24, the SLD announced the appointment of Ellen Wolfhagen to its general counsel position. Ms. Wolfhagen, who assumed the position on April 6, was formerly a contracts attorney with the Washington State Department of Information Services and a member of the Year Three eRate Task Force.

Ms. Wolfhagen has been a lead attorney on eRate issues for the state of Washington. She has worked in the state government for 14 years and has state regulatory expertise in areas such as environmental policy and minority and women-owned business contracting rules.

“Ellen is known for her ability to find the common ground,” said SLD’s Kate Moore. “She is extremely knowledgeable about our program rules and will be a valuable asset in brokering solutions that work for the eRate’s diverse stakeholders, service providers and applicants alike.”

A graduate of New York University, Ms. Wolfhagen received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. She succeeds Debra Kriete, who resigned recently as general counsel after accepting a position with Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, LLP, where she remains an outside counsel for the SLD.

3Com offers new eRate resources

3Com Corp., the nation’s largest vendor of networking equipment to the education market, has launched a newly expanded web site to help K-12 schools and libraries apply for the eRate.

3Com’s eRate web site,, is a central resource for eRate funding information. It includes an online workbook with all the necessary forms and step-by-step instructions, a summary of changes since the last funding period, an eMail link to 3Com for eRate inquiries, and links to many other educational resources, including state departments of education and technology.

“Hard work and teamwork between the education, vendor, and government communities enabled a robust program in its first year, and this second year of eRate builds on this progress,” said David Abramson, 3Com’s director of public affairs. Abramson is the networking industry’s only representative on the Schools and Libraries committee of the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) board, and he chairs its programmatic subcommittee.

3Com also is sponsoring a general session on the eRate for the eSchool News Grants & Funding for School Technology West conference, to be held in San Diego April 29-30. The general session, titled “eRate Update: Current Perspectives and Analysis,” features SLD President Kate Moore, who will brief attendees on the latest rules, requirements, and timetables affecting nearly $2 billion in discounts. Visit for the latest information on the conference.


Atlanta-area education agency tops 34 states with its award

With a keen eye on emerging technologies, a consortium of Georgia school systems emerged with a $28.8 million award during the first year of the eRate.

The award to Atlanta’s Metropolitan Regional Educational Service Agency (MRESA) eclipses the total eRate awards given to schools and libraries in 34 different states. And it marks the regional agency as a national pioneer in the integration of technology into public education.

“What we are doing is looking at the future of education,” said Ed Kramer, the technology guru who spearheaded MRESA’s application. “The system that we’re installing takes into account that within the next five years, we expect there will be a laptop or desktop computer on every desk in every classroom. We have to be set to provide content to those classrooms and students. This is a system that will provide that functionally into the next century.”

The $28.8 million represents the largest chunk of the $77.8 million awarded to Georgia schools and libraries during the first year of the eRate.

Part of the reason for MRESA’s success is that the poorest schools received priority in the first round of awards. Kramer said the agency, which represents 14 metro Atlanta school systems, based its initial application on its 315 poorest schools, those eligible for subsidies amounting to 70 to 90 percent of the total project costs.

“It was our role to harness as much of this funding as possible for our school systems and use it,” he said.

The districts will match the $28.8 million with $4.7 million in local funds, Kramer said. The money will be used to connect all 315 schools, representing more than 200,000 students and nearly 12,000 teachers, to each other and the internet through an educational video distribution and conferencing system called MRESAnet 2000.

Once the first round of connections is completed this fall, Kramer said, a teacher or speaker in one class can be videoconferenced to classrooms all across the metro Atlanta area, or teachers from similar academic disciplines but different schools or systems can meet and interact electronically.

When finished, MRESAnet 2000 will offer the following benefits to the consortium’s schools:

1. Video on demand

Individual classes (and even computers) will be able to receive broadcast-quality video selections from one of several sources. The base server located in each school will stream 30 concurrent video streams through category-5 cabling; the maximum server capacity will be close to 450 concurrent streams. Original content may also be available through the internet for at-home viewing. Turner Educational/Time-Warner will provide its educational video libraries at no cost to MRESAnet 2000 as a launch for the system. Additional opportunities will include:

• Public broadcasting titles which are available and/or licensed for use

• Catalogs of titles from library systems and universities which are available and/or licensed for use

• By special agreement, satellite programming that MRESA now orders for broadcast to its districts may be archived and available for use

• Original school productions and school events will be available for use

2. Live programming

Special school and community events, lectures, and presentations will be broadcast live throughout the internet, or limited to individual schools or systems. This programming can be originated at any location on the network.

3. Live video teleconferencing

Speakers, meetings, and other educational opportunities will become readily accessible as broadcasts can be generated from any desktop on the intranet. Practical uses may include:

A speaker or panel discussion that allows questions from multiple classes, schools, and/or systems (virtual classrooms)

Multiple sources to host intra-class, school, or system-wide meetings or district-wide teleconferences

National or international teleconferences by utilizing the internet for additional communication sources

Emerging technologies

MRESAnet 2000 is being constructed through a three-year implementation plan. Another 192 schools, those eligible for subsidies of 50 percent to 70 percent, were the focus of the agency’s eRate applications for year two, Kramer said, and the remaining 150 schools in the 14 systems—those eligible for the least subsidies—will comprise the third-year applications.

“Using some of the additional funding available through the Georgia state lottery, we expect schools to be able to continue with the project” even if they don’t receive funding for internal connections in the next two years, Kramer said.

Kramer said lottery funds allocated for technology have given Georgia schools a head start over those in many other states. The eRate, he said, is enabling the state’s schools to cash in on that advantage.

“We are using emerging technologies,” he said. “A lot of what we proposed in our original application wasn’t possible when we put it in, but we were looking at current trends and believed it would be possible by the time the funding came through. We were lucky enough to be right.”

For example, Kramer said, when the agency originally discussed video streaming through category-5 cable, streaming technology wasn’t as advanced as it is now. But the hardware and software compression technologies have advanced to the point where the agency is able to implement its plan as envisioned, now that its application has been approved.

Another forward-looking step was for the agency to plan for just one category-5 drop in each classroom—the exact opposite of the current trend to install multiple drops in each classroom.

“It used to be that in order to have connectivity to 30 desktops, you needed 30 CAT-5 drops,” Kramer said. “But now, using ‘ramp’ technologies [such as infrared], one CAT-5 drop in each classroom can serve 30 machines.”

Kramer said the key was to design the system with a very open architecture in order to give it the maximum flexibility and versatility possible. “I felt the need to implement a system that would still be used 10 years from now,” he said.


FCC extends first-year implementation deadline

Schools and libraries will have an extra three months to spend their first-year eRate discounts, thanks to action taken by the Federal Communications Commission last month.

Responding to concerns raised by schools and libraries that they would be unable to complete the installation of internal connections by June 30, 1999, the FCC voted on March 18 to extend the deadline for using first-year eRate funds to Sept. 30, 1999.

The FCC extended the deadline to “ensure that schools and libraries have sufficient time to use universal service support that was approved in the first funding year for nonrecurring service such as the installation of internal connections” or the one-time activation fee for telecommunications services, the agency said.

“Today’s actions by the Commission are good news for eRate applicants,” said Kate Moore, SLD president. “Now schools and libraries will have more time to establish the vital links between learners and the internet, while we continue to put the neediest children first.”

Contract extensions allowed

The FCC also addressed the situation of first-year applicants whose contracts for telecommunications services and internet access had expired before Dec. 31, 1998, by voting to let them extend or renew their existing contracts from Jan. 1, 1999 through June 30, 1999.

The agency’s vote opens up an additional six months of funding commitments for these applicants. Previously, applicants whose contracts expired before Dec. 31, 1998, were told they would not qualify for the extra six months of funding created when the FCC voted to extend the first program year to June 30, 1999.

However, funding for these applicants will not be available for the period between the original contract expiration date and Dec. 31, 1998, the FCC said.

Funds freed up during appeals

In another important move, the FCC ruled that during the appeals process, the SLD can proceed with disbursing approved funds while an appeal is being reviewed.

Prior rules kept the SLD from disbursing any funds during an appeal. For example, if you were approved for a service at an 80 percent discount, but you thought you should get an 85 percent discount and you filed an appeal, under prior rules you wouldn’t get any funding until your appeal was resolved.

The FCC’s action means now you’d receive the uncontested 80 percent discount while you awaited a decision on the other 5 percent.