General Electric Donates $1 Million
To UNCF Technology Initiative
The United Negro College Fund last month scored another major gift in its $80 million technology campaign. Officials with the GE Fund donated a $1 million grant in support of the UNCF Technology Enhancement Campaign, bringing total funds raised to $77 million over 18 months, according to UNCF officials.
“This gift will advance teaching and learning at historically Black colleges and universities. It will help close the ‘digital divide’ in American higher education,” says William H. Gray III, president and CEO of UNCF.
Announcement of the award was made at the launch of the annual symposium known as the GE African American Forum. More than 1,000 Black General Electric executives attended the forum, which was held in Washington. Lloyd Trotter, president and CEO of GE Industrial Systems, announced the UNCF grant to the GE executives.
“Students who aren’t familiar with information technology will be at a disadvantage in the job market,” Trotter declared, noting that GE recruits heavily at the historically Black institutions. “We love the product (of HBCUs),” he added.
The GE Fund, which is the philanthropic arm of the General Electric Company, contributes to education and community projects around the world.
Gray told reporters that UNCF expects to hit the $80 million mark within the next few months, thus completing what he describes as a first phase technology enhancement campaign. UNCF will subsequently embark on a second phase campaign, whose dollar objective has not been determined.
At the 39 UNCF institutions, funds raised in the $80 million campaign have paid for the following:
• wiring of all buildings on UNCF campuses;
• basic hardware and software to establish an up-to-date information technology platform at each campus;
• training for faculty, staff and students;
• integration of information technology into academic programs; and
• discounted equipment and software accessible through the UNCF Web site for faculty, students and staff.
Gray says the second phase campaign will support programs aimed at providing computers to low-income students on UNCF campuses; establishing wireless networks and networking capacity on the campuses; and developing distance education capacity at UNCF institutions.
“Now that we’ve gotten our schools to a minimal level of information technology development, the question is how do we get them to the next level,” Gray says.
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