IBM, GTE provide $500,000 for tech-ed curriculum

IBM Corp. and GTE Corp. have made a combined $500,000 grant to support the creation of an interactive curriculum that will teach eighth-, ninth-, and 10th-graders about computer usage and prepare them for information technology (IT)-related professions.

Classroom Inc., a leader in developing technology-rich instructional materials and teacher professional development programs for under-resourced schools, will develop the course. Using computer-generated scenarios, students will learn algebra and language arts as they engage in collaborative problem solving, decision making, and critical thinking activities, Classroom Inc. says. The program will be available to schools nationwide in time for the fall academic period.

“The need for this simulation is critical, given that students who fail to master algebra are cut off from pursuing a range of rewarding professions—including many in the IT industry,” said Madeline Lacovara, president of Classroom Inc. “The simulation will directly address this pressing concern.”

IBM and GTE also will support the program with technical expertise, said Stanley S. Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation and vice president of IBM’s Corporate Community Relations.

Classroom Inc. is a New York City-based nonprofit founded in 1991. It develops and distributes interactive curricula, provides teacher training and professional development programs, and undertakes research into how children acquire academic and critical thinking skills. It currently operates statewide in South Dakota and West Virginia and in urban school districts in New York City, Houston, and Philadelphia.

Contact: Kalpana Kanthan,

(212) 545-8400

SmartForce creates $10 million program to close digital divide

SmartForce, an internet education firm that creates K-12 and adult education and training programs, awarded 400 scholarships in the Oakland, Calif., area as the first step in a planned $10 million scholarship program aimed at closing the digital divide. The company says it will award at least another 600 scholarships in the Oakland area this year. It will expand the program to other states and eventually reach 100,000 people with free courses worth $1,000 each.

The scholarships entitle students to one year of access to more than 1,000 courses on SmartForce’s online system. Seminars, discussion groups, and online mentors supplement the courses.

The initial scholarships have been given to the Oakland Unified School District’s Adult Education Technology Center, Oakland NetDay, the Eastmont Computing Center, and the Women’s Economic Agenda Project. By working through community groups, SmartForce officials say their program will be replicated in future years with more participants. While most trainees will be adults, the company is reserving spots this year and in the future for high schoolers.

The company also is lining up computer manufacturers to donate equipment to scholarship recipients for accessing the SmartForce courses, company officials said.

Toyota taps 50 Tapestry Award winners

In late February and early March, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. contacted the 50 winners of its 2000 Toyota Tapestry Awards, a competition for K-12 schools to create multidisciplinary projects with environmental and physical science themes. The projects, which carry a maximum award of $10,000 each, will result in grants of more than $350,000 for the 2000-2001 school year.

Winning proposals span a wide range grades and activities, and many use the internet or other scientific instrumentation to achieve goals. “Creative use of technology” is a principal goal of the program.

Grant recipients are chosen by Toyota in conjunction with a panel selected by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); projects focus on efficient use of natural resources. The director of each project receives an all-expenses-paid trip to NSTA’s annual conference, this year from April 6 to 9 in Orlando, at which time the grants will be announced formally.

Stulgis Fund recipients describe projects

Last year’s winners of $5,000 grants from the Unitil Charitable Foundation spoke Feb. 16 at an education conference in Manchester, N.H., about what they have been able to achieve with the foundation’s support. The funds, which encourage innovative use of technology in the classroom, are reserved for private and public secondary schools in the Fitchburg and Lawrence areas in Massachusetts and the Capital and Seacoast regions of New Hampshire.

Projects included:

Sanborn Regional High School students in Kingston, N.H., produced a television documentary on the nearby Sanborn wetlands.

High school students in the New Hampshire Science Instrumentation Program and the Oyster River Cooperative School District in Durham, N.H., now can further use high-tech spectroscopy equipment after the purchase of accessories.

Austin Preparatory School students in Reading, Mass., created an interdisciplinary project on issues of prejudice, aided by internet communication with several communities around the world.

Since its inception in 1997, the Peter J. Stulgis Memorial Fund has committed more than $62,000 to 14 innovative electronic and computer technology projects in local high schools. The Unitil Charitable Foundation facilitates administration of the Stulgis Fund.

Contact: George Gantz, (603) 772-0775

Detroit-area libraries link up with schools

Three community libraries in Wayne County, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, will use $160,000 in federal grants this spring to purchase computers, improve internet access, and support elementary school teachers who are training their students to use computers.

The Library Services and Technology grants, distributed through the state of Michigan from the U.S. Department of Education, will be provided to Canton Township (nearly $105,000), River Rouge ($24,000), and Taylor ($31,000).

With the funds, the Canton Township library will purchase six laptop computers, a 36-inch monitor, and a monitor cart for each of three elementary schools in the area, said Jean Tabor, the township’s library director. The library’s staff will help teachers create their own web sites to provide homework helpers, links to favorite sites, and parent information. The library’s web site will host the teacher sites.

(734) 397-0999