$5 million from the SBC Foundation

In the wake of recent research suggesting that only 32 percent of all high-school students are ready for college, the SBC Foundation–the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications–has announced a $5 million grant to the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP). The grant will supplement the highly regarded federal GEAR UP program in 13 states beginning this spring.

GEAR UP, enacted when Congress passed the Higher Education Amendment of 1998, encourages students in grades 6-12 to stay in school and apply for college. The program currently serves 1.2 million students nationwide, and more than 2,000 organizations currently participate in GEAR UP partnerships.

The $5 million SBC Foundation grant will help train and assist teachers in the use of technology in the classroom; fund technology-based after-school programs to help students in math, science, reading, and technology; measure student achievement and program impact; and establish new K-16 partnerships based on the GEAR UP model.

Projects funded through the SBC Foundation grant will be awarded on a competitive basis in SBC’s 13-state operating area, which includes Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin. A Request for Proposal package is now available on the NCCEP web site for organizations with new or existing programs that meet the GEAR UP criteria.


$200,000 in equipment from the Magic Johnson Foundation and HP

Magic Johnson’s assists didn’t stop when his basketball career ended. Through his foundation, the Hall of Fame basketball player helped donate $200,000 in computer equipment Feb. 20 to the Mattie Koonce Learning Center in one of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods.

“When you come here and see this room, you can see we’re doing the right thing,” Johnson said. “Now people will have a chance to use a computer for free, any time at their disposal, right here in their own community. It’s important.”

The center’s package included two dozen desktop computers, digital cameras, printers, a server, and other accessories, all donated by Hewlett-Packard Co.

“It’s a win-win situation for a company like Hewlett-Packard and an organization like the Magic Johnson Foundation,” HP spokesman Bill Carver said. “Both bring things to the table that the other couldn’t have by itself.”

It’s the 12th Magic Johnson HP Inventor Center to open in inner-city communities in the past three years. Another opened in Seattle in late February, and nine more could be launched by July 1.


$150,000 from the Micron Foundation

A charter school that teaches its students over the internet has received $150,000 from Micron Technology Inc.’s nonprofit foundation.

The Idaho Virtual Academy, chartered by the Butte County School District, teaches more than 1,800 students in kindergarten through seventh grade. Lessons are conducted over the internet and through some traditional materials.

“The Micron Foundation is excited to have the opportunity to support a program that provides education excellence to Idaho students, no matter where they live or what their family circumstances might be,” said Kipp Bedard, foundation president.

The foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Boise-based computer chip manufacturer. In December, the foundation also pledged $1 million over five years to help create a Boise valley school that will attract students interested in mathematics and science.


$65,000 from New York City Councilman James Oddo

New York City Council Minority Leader James S. Oddo (R, Staten Island) has donated $65,000 for the purchase of Learning.com’s EasyTech, a complete online instructional system for technology integration, for every school in his district–13 in all. His grant reportedly will provide technology integration curriculum materials to some 7,800 students.

“Computer teachers from the various schools I represent explained the importance of this program, and consequently, I decided to make it a priority to fund this curriculum,” Oddo said. “In this day and age of failing schools, I felt it was necessary to provide our kids with the very best resources to prepare them for the future, and EasyTech is one of those resources.”

The idea for the grant came from a conversation Oddo had with computer teacher Lisa Cutugno, who described to him the impact EasyTech has had in helping students learn technology skills. “The interactive lessons are so self-directed and engaging that students can work at their own pace and are motivated to finish the assigned lessons before the end of class,” Cutugno said. “Last year for graduation my fifth- graders put together a slide presentation in only three days based on the skills they learned with EasyTech. … It was a huge success.”