$24 million in Technology Innovation Challange Grants
Three school districts were awarded $24 million over five years to enhance their training of teachers to use technology effectively and to support greater student achievement in core subjects and the arts.
The grants come from the U.S. Department of Education’s Technology Innovative Challenge Grant program, which is designed to serve as a catalyst for change in schools by supporting educators, industry partners, communities, and parents to use new technologies to bring high-quality education to classrooms and neighborhoods.
The three winners are:
• The Rural Mountain Organization for Technological Enhancement| Mountain Valley School District, Saguache, Colo. First year grant: $830,261 Five years: $3,549,449
• Beacon Learning Centers Bay District Schools, Panama City, Fla. First year grant: $2 million
Five years: $10 million
• Virtual Informal Education Web (VIEW) Project
Schenectady City School District, N.Y.
First year grant: $2 million
Five years: $10 million
The three award winners have created partnerships that encompass more than 600 school districts and seven colleges and universities. The business and community partners have generated matching commitments valued at more than $160 million. About 800,000 students and more than 40,000 teachers will benefit.
$7.5 million for students with disabilities in nine states
In May, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided nine states with grants totaling $7.5 million each year for five years to help improve special and general education services for students with disabilities. The $7.5 million follows grants of $18 million given to 18 other states last year.
Projects in the nine states (Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) will include substantial use of technology, said Judith E. Heumann, assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Proposals by the grant recipients included plans to expand web-based instruction and develop alternative learning sites.
State Improvement Grants were created by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997 to encourage states to reform their systems for providing educational, early intervention, and transitional services to disabled children. States are required to use 75 percent of the money for the professional development of educators, administrators, and other school staff. Funds also can be used for sharing information about best practices.
OSERS is still accepting applications for the program. The agency seeks grant proposals that identify how training and personnel recruiting will help improve the performance of children with disabilities and meet a state’s goals under IDEA. Projects can include plans for stipends for special education training programs; proposals for interstate collaboration to certify educators; mentoring and professional development; and enhanced opportunities for paraprofessionals.
$6.4 million from the Alabama Department of Education
Alabama school districts received $6.4 million in grants through the U.S. Department of Education’s annual Technology Literacy Challenge Fund. The fund is a five-year, $2 billion program that awards money to all 50 states to give to local school districts in the form of grants in order to meet the Clinton Administration’s educational technology goals.
ED’s guidelines state that the grant money can be used to implement or complete a local area network with internet access, place at least one multimedia computer in each classroom, or acquire additional software and hardware for teacher training in technology. Since only about 60 percent of Alabama’s approximately 70,000 classrooms have computers with internet access today, state education officials say that most of the funds will be used to purchase computers and provide internet access to classrooms across the state.
“This opens up a whole new source of information for our children and a wonderful new tool for teachers,” said Bradley Byrne, a member of the state Board of Education.
Alabama has divided the awards based on economic factors about the student body in each school district, with two-thirds of the funds going to the districts at or above the state average in the number of students receiving free or reduced priced lunches. The individual system awards ranged from $16,000 to $989,000.
For information on the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, contact Pat Gore at (202) 401-0039.
$1 million in cash, equipment, and training from Dell Computer Corp.
In June, Dell Computer Corp. announced that it will donate $1 million to six elementary and middle schools in the Nashville, Tenn., area. The support will come in the form of computers, computer training, and direct funds for public schools in Nashville and Wilson County and a youth-focused nonprofit group.
Through this grant program, each of the institutions will receive six Dell Dimension computers. The recipients were selected based on their need for new computers, Dell officials said. The grant marks the first donation to schools in the Middle Tennessee area since Dell opened an assembly plant and technical support center in the region last year.
In the future, the Dell Foundation will make grants to teachers who propose innovative ways to include the internet into their curriculum. The foundation also may support nonprofit groups that want to develop youth literacy and youth technology access programs.
$150,000 from Litton Industries
Litton Industries continues to expand its K-12 Education Support Program. Each year, the company makes awards of $1,500 each to schools in communities in which it has operations. While final totals are not yet available for the company’s fiscal year 2000 grants, Lynne Brickner, a company vice president as well as president of the Litton Foundation, said the foundation “will exceed last year’s total of 98 grants.”
Litton’s grants come with few restrictions, except that they are not to be used for salaries. Public and private schools of all grade levels are eligible. Typically, schools use the funds to purchase computers and software. For example, Angie Pamplona, coordinator for the Save Our Crane Kids mentoring program in Yuma, Ariz., said her school will use the funds to purchase a computer for a room used as a mentoring room.
Grant requests must come directly from Litton employees, but the schools receiving the grants do not necessarily have to have children of Litton employees. “Our purpose is to be involved directly in the education of students,” said Brickner. “Technology is one very important part of education today.”
Litton has facilities in the following 29 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. For a complete list of areas of Litton’s education activities, including scholarships to high school students and support of college-high school technology programs, visit the company’s web site.
$100,000 in software from Corel Corp.
On May 1, Corel Corp. donated 2,000 copies of its Linux OS and WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux to the CAST (Connect a Student to Technology) program, created by the Dallas Independent School District. At retail, the software packages are worth more than $100,000.
“Linux has its roots in the academic community and, as such, is ideally suited to serve the needs of students and educators,” said Dr. Michael Cowpland, president and chief executive officer of Corel. This is the first time Corel has made such a significant Linux contribution to the academic community, he added, but the company is considering other arrangements elsewhere in the country.
CAST was created by the school district to improve student literacy and students’ computer use and proficiency. The program allows students at selected schools to take home donated computers; this enables students and their families to remain in contact with the school and the internet from home. Teachers will send eMails to parents of CAST students on a regular basis to update them on their children’s curricula.
“Our goal is to make it possible for every family in the school district to own a computer,” said General Superintendent Dr. Waldemar Rojas. “We can’t stress enough the importance of having the appropriate tools at home for children to succeed in the classroom and in the marketplace.”
HiFusion Inc., Excel Communications Inc., and Sea Land Services Inc. also have contributed equipment and services to the CAST program.