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$130 Million Partnership Will Bring Internet to HBCUs

NEW YORK — The College Fund/UNCF announced a $130 million partnership with two computer industry giants earlier this month to bring Black colleges and universities into the Internet era.
Microsoft Corp. and IBM have pledged $100 million in cash and equipment for students and faculty members at 39 Black schools. AT&T is contributing $1 million, and the UNCF hopes to raise $29 million.
“It is critically important that those who are coming out of these institutions have the technological skills that society is going to demand in the 21st century,” says UNCF president William H. Gray III.
Only about 15 percent of students at Black institutions own a computer, compared with 55 percent of all college students, he says. And fewer than half the faculty members at the UNCF’s member schools have computers, compared with 70 percent nationally.
Black schools also have fewer network servers and about 75 percent of the hardware is obsolete or needs to be replaced, Gray says.
Microsoft plans to give $50 million in software and training material. IBM will offer  discounts of up to 50 percent on personal computers and networking hardware — a gift valued at $50 million, the UNCF said.

NAFEO, Gateway Sign Discount Contracts
WASHINGTON — The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education signed a contract with Gateway Inc. last month to offer steeply discounted computer hardware for the college’s students, faculty and alumni.
The deal, which NAFEO President Dr. Henry Ponder estimates could be worth as much as $250 million over three years, will benefit the 118 historically Black colleges and universities that belong to NAFEO.
“This will put a big dent in reducing the digital divide,” says Dr. Henry Ponder, the president of NAFEO.
A percentage of the revenue that Gateway earns from the contract will be put into a scholarship trust fund.
NAFEO officials also are negotiating with the Microsoft Corporation to provide software to the colleges, which would include an Internet portal allowing the colleges to offer distance-education courses.
The Gateway alliance is the second that NAFEO has announced in a little over a year. Ponder says he hopes to use the collective purchasing power of his institutions to develop partnerships with corporations, such as the one he developed last year with Educational Finance Group and G.B. Herndon Associates to begin a new student loan program (see Black Issues, January 7, 1999) 

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