Grant Awards

eSchool News Staff Reports
December 1st, 2000

$5.9 Million for Teacher Quality Enhancement grants

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $5.9 million for eight new projects designed to better train teachers for the challenges of today’s classrooms.

“This program takes traditional teacher education off the campus and into the heart of the classroom and community,” Secretary Richard Riley said. “These beginning-teacher grants are an added benefit for school districts that have trouble attracting and retaining teachers, especially secondary teachers with strong backgrounds in the subjects they teach.”

The grants support partnerships involving one or more college or university teacher preparation programs, university-level schools of arts and sciences, and a high-need K-12 school district. A K-12 district is considered “high need” if at least one of its elementary or secondary schools has 50 percent or more of its students from families with incomes below the poverty line, more than a third of its secondary teachers are not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach, or 15 percent or more of its teachers have left in the last three years.

Among the program’s four priorities is integrating technology in training, so beginning teachers can use technology effectively in the classroom.

California State University at Northridge received nearly $240,000 this year (and nearly $1.2 million over five years) to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District to improve new teachers’ ability to integrate their field experiences into the classroom and to show them how to use technology to improve student achievement in elementary schools. Another winner, Bowling Green State University, has been awarded nearly $790,000 this year (and $4,154,493 over five years) to work with several local organizations and the Toledo Public School District to create an interactive, web-based teacher professional development system.

$4.8 million for New Jersey’s Access-Collaboration-Equity program

New Jersey’s State Board of Education has awarded 26 grants worth $4.8 million to help schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students to purchase computers, connect to the internet, and educate students and parents about effective use of technology resources. The new program, known as Access-Collaboration-Equity (ACE), will make 24 more grants worth another $2.6 million in the next few months.

The key to the program is developing after-school programs that will give students and parents access to computers they could not otherwise afford. “We know that most students who come from low-income households are unable to access and use a computer at home,” said state Commissioner of Education David Hespe. “Through the ACE grants, school districts will be able to operate community centers for disadvantaged students and their families to use when school is not in session.”

ACE is funded through two federal grants—Goals 2000 and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund—at up to $200,000 per grant recipient. Economically disadvantaged school districts serve as lead agencies for these grants and collaborate with community partners, businesses, municipalities, and statewide organizations to develop, staff, and plan activities at ACE centers. Each center will be staffed by qualified professionals after school and on weekends at public locations, including schools, libraries, community centers, or housing complexes, said state ED representative Rich Vespucci.

Winning applicants proposed programs that would, among other activities, enable students to complete homework and develop classroom presentations, perform online research, communicate with experts elsewhere in the world, teach family members how to use technology, and work in groups on projects that support New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards. tm

$100,000 in tech support services for Minnesota schools

Nine Minnesota schools and districts are piloting a program aimed at reducing routine calls to computer help lines by 30 percent through services donated by Netven LLC of Austin, Texas, and KnowledgeBroker Inc. The companies value the services at nearly $100,000.

Under the program, technical support personnel at selected schools and districts will receive complimentary access for the 2000-01 school year to Netven’s PC-HMO web-based support tools, as well as the “Ask Me Online” web portal developed by KnowledgeBroker Inc., a leading provider of technical support content.

Minnesota’s Office of Technology, which developed the project and chose the grant recipients, believes the program will improve computer users’ ability to get answers to routine questions without calling on overtaxed school district workers. Integrated internet-based training and support will improve user and support staff abilities to operate the systems, said Paul Wasko, the state’s manager of education technology initiatives.

The grants are divided into three categories. District-wide grants are targeted toward school districts considering or actively providing centralized technical support for teachers and staff members. The other two grant programs directly engage students. In one, Cisco Academies will use PC-HMO and Ask Me Online to educate students as front-line help desk staff members. The tech-prep support development grant goes a step further, establishing an intensive training program for students in both technical and customer-service skills.

When the program ends, schools can decide to continue the service at a predetermined cost.

Contact: Jim Schwartz, Minnesota Department of Administration’s Communications Office, at (651) 284-3351

Grant Awards

eSchool News Staff Reports
December 1st, 2000

$3.2 Million from America’s

Kids Connect

On Oct. 5 and 6, students, parents, and teachers from 28 states and 10 countries competed for $3.2 million in prizes in an online game show program, America’s Kids Connect 2000. Overall, the winners represented 24 states and won 183 individual prizes.

America’s Kids Connect created the contest to increase awareness of the use of computers in schools and to generate parental and community participation in schools, said Chris Bates, the group’s executive director.

The awards included:

• International Assessment Network donated unlimited use of its MAPP program, which retails at $29 per user, to students in grades 9 to 12 throughout an entire state for a period of one year (Pennsylvania won the award). Training for teachers and guidance counselors in the state also is included. The MAPP program is an online tool that evaluates a student’s career interest and can assist students in planning their courses. Schools can use the tool in their school-to-work programs as well.

• James Integrated Technologies donated 100 WebClerk labs, which have a value of $21,000 each. These are 20-station eCommerce labs that include web servers, Quick Time training movies, and other tools to assist students in developing eCommerce businesses. Administrative support is provided, too.

• Edvenions donated two “Starship School” pilots worth $50,000 each. These are web communities designed for K-8 schools.

• Sun Microsystems donated two sets of five Sun Ray internet appliances and server systems, each valued at $10,000.

• Microsoft donated software and licenses for two 20-station computer labs, including Word, Excel, and Front Page.

• Altiris donated $30,000 in computer management software and licenses for schools.

Next year’s America’s Kids Connect event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001.

$323,000 from the Verizon Foundation

Urban school districts across upstate New York will benefit from a $323,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation for technology-based literacy programs. The gift was announced by New York Lt. Gov. Mary O. Donohue and representatives of the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications.

Verizon will provide the funds to Education 21, a nonprofit agency based in Troy. Education 21 will take applications from urban school districts and distribute the funds in the form of one-time grants. The funding is targeted at urban school districts because they face the greatest challenge in meeting higher literacy standards and assessments, program officials said.

The grants will be used to purchase equipment and technology to further literacy efforts by the school districts. The funds will pay for computers for students and high-speed internet connections in classrooms and the homes of some inner-city students.

“We have a long-standing commitment to support the use of technology to enhance educational programs,” said Richard Amadon, director of community relations for Verizon in upstate New York. “Computers and the internet are essential tools for learning. They are more than a resource to improve literacy. They can provide students with the stimulation and excitement that will make them want to learn.”

Besides the purchase of computers and high-speed internet access, funding will be used to buy software designed to promote literacy programs, establish activities to support these programs, and support efforts to get parents more involved in their children’s education.

The Verizon Foundation supports programs that create innovative eSolutions, help bridge the digital divide, foster basic and computer literacy, and create a skilled work force. Verizon is the national communications company formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.

Contact: Cliff Lee of Verizon, (518) 396-1095 or; or Peter Stoll of Education 21, (518) 266-9336 or

$100,000 from Microsoft Corp.

In an effort to increase interest and proficiency in science, engineering, and technology among girls, Microsoft Corp. has donated $100,000 to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to fund mentoring and education programs in K-12 schools.

“Microsoft and other technology companies have a vested interest in increasing the number of women with math and science backgrounds, not only in response to the number of jobs open, but to foster a diverse and more effective work force,” said Deborah Willingham, vice president of human resources for Microsoft. “SWE is providing educators and youth leaders with the kinds of innovative, skill-building tools and curricula that will help them interest girls in technical subjects, leading eventually to more women pursuing technical careers.”

According to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, only 9 percent of today’s jobs that require engineering backgrounds are filled with women. More women than men earn college degrees today, but women comprise less than 19 percent of engineering enrollment.

SWE will use the Microsoft “Equal Access” grant to fund mentoring programs and science curricula that encourage girls from underrepresented racial or ethnic populations to study science or engineering through hands-on activities and web-based instruction.

The Equal Access program was developed in conjunction with Microsoft’s Community Affairs division as way to help fulfill the company’s vision of providing access to technology and the internet for everyone. Additional sponsors include Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and VERITAS Software Corp.

Contact: Anne Perusek of the Society of Women Engineers, (216) 397-3315 or

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