$4.3 million from the Library of Congress

The United States Library of Congress has awarded an initial $4.3 million grant to the mountain regions of North and South Carolina to build a new fiber optic network, called Frontier FiberNet. The network-at a total cost of $20 million to $30 million to complete-will provide high-speed internet access to schools, libraries, health care providers, and small businesses in the region.

U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., sought the grant so teachers and students in more than 400 schools could tap into the digital archives of the Library of Congress. The network also will be available to hospitals, libraries and private businesses through volume purchase discounts. Currently it costs a small business in western North Carolina about $2,400 a month to have dedicated T-1 broadband access, Taylor said, compared to $300 a month in more wired cities like Raleigh and Charlotte.

Taylor said the first phase of the program is expected to begin within the next six months after an engineering review, the bidding and award process for construction of the network, and negotiations with internet service providers.


$2.5 million from 3Com Corp.

3Com Corp. has awarded a new round of Urban Challenge Grants, worth $500,000 each, to five United States cities to help them bridge the digital divide. The winning cities were Chicago; Albuquerque, N.M.; New Haven, Conn.; Alameda, Calif.; and Dover, Del.

By working directly with United States mayors, 3Com’s Urban Challenge Grant program aims to connect communities through digital networks, thereby improving access to educational, health care, and other municipal resources. Alameda, for example, plans to use its grant money to strengthen parent-teacher communications through a new program called Parent Connect. Alameda will deploy an array of 3Com networking systems to enable parents across the city’s 18 schools to better monitor and support their children’s education.

In Chicago, Mayor Richard M. Daley said the city will use its grant to deliver advanced academic services to special-needs students: those who are homebound, blind, or autistic.


More than $500,000 in cash and equipment from the Help Us Help Foundation

The New Orleans Public Schools received 1,000 thin-client computers and 200 laser printers from the Help Us Help Foundation, which was established by Oracle Corp. Employees from Oracle and Kyocera Mita America, as well as volunteers from the New Orleans region, spent 10 days installing the equipment in January.

The total grant package outfitted 10 classrooms at 20 schools with five computers and one printer each. All ancillary equipment needed to connect the devices-including network hubs, cables, and electrical surge protectors-was included in the grant package.

In addition to the donated equipment, the foundation awarded a $10,500 cash grant toward the purchase of server hardware for the district, as well as the underwriting of advanced technology training for five high school teachers. The teachers will travel to California to participate in the Oracle Internet Academy’s Training Institute this summer, where they will learn to teach database technology and internet application programming using the latest Oracle courseware.


$100,000 from Equitable Resources

The Pittsburgh Public Schools received a $100,000 educational grant from Equitable Resources, an energy company focused on natural gas. Pittsburgh school officials will use the money to help fund the district’s Literacy Plus Program, which helps elementary school children gain character building skills; to enable two students to enter the USA First National Robotics Competition; and to sponsor the Cisco Systems Technology Competition to be held at Peabody High School. Peabody High School is the only regional academy in western Pennsylvania that offers Cisco Systems certification, which gives students the technology skills to help them become employable.