UNCF Technology Campaign Raises $90 Million
The campaign by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to raise funds, equipment and services to help its member schools bridge the “digital divide” has recently surpassed the $90 million mark, according to UNCF officials. The campaign, launched just over a year ago with a goal of $80 million, has raised cash and resources from major corporations and is providing equipment and training for students and faculty at the 39 Black colleges, which are UNCF member schools.
William Gray, president of UNCF, says a 1998 study revealed that “the digital divide between Black colleges and majority colleges was even wider than the digital divide in society.” The ultimate goal of the campaign, Gray adds, is to increase diversity in the nation’s technology sector, in which African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented.
“We found that only 15 percent of UNCF students owned their own computers, compared with 55 percent of the students at majority colleges,” Gray notes.
Further, the study revealed that only approximately one half of faculty at UNCF schools owned computers, compared to about 71 percent computer ownership among national faculty, he adds.
The latest gift, a $10 million commitment from the Oracle Corporation, including $1 million in cash, was announced March 13. Oracle’s contribution includes training for database certification for 30 faculty members and 675 students at UNCF campuses. The company also is providing scholarships and internships.
The Oracle award was announced at a Washington reception on Capitol Hill hosted by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The award will give the participating colleges and universities access to advanced teaching and learning methods and cutting-edge technology within degree programs. Oracle, the world’s largest enterprise software company, provides highly regarded database solutions for organizations.
“Oracle is delighted to partner with UNCF to improve the quality of technology education and increase opportunity for all students to actively participate in the growing information economy,” says Larry Ellison, chairman and CEO of Oracle Corp. “The Oracle, UNCF partnership will benefit both faculty and students by giving them every advantage to use the most up-to-date technology and training in the world.”
The Oracle grant also comes in response to a CBC technology roundtable held last June, in which the CBC called on the high-tech industry to build new educational partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities, according to UNCF officials.
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