HP Joins Efforts to Bridge Digital Divide

HP President and CEO Carly Fiorina joined Jesse Jackson, community leaders, and other high-tech execs in East Palo Alto, Calif. when President Clinton led a discussion focused on motivating young people to "get connected" to the Internet. The discussion preceded by a few days Clinton's major address on April 20 at Spring COMDEX. In that address, the President pleaded with technology leaders to help "close the Digital Divide and open digital opportunity."

HP responded by launching the Digital Village Program, $15 million in funding for three underserved communities in the U.S. "We applaud President Clinton's New Markets Initiative for bringing attention to this pressing issue and for galvanizing real commitment across business and society," said Fiorina.

HP's first Digital Village initiative will be launched in East Palo and will focus on programs that address the needs of adults and young people at home, in school and through community centers. Components of the program include HP @ Home—programs targeting K-12 students at school; HP @ Neighborhood Community Centers—helping adults and kids before and after school participate in learning about the Net; and HP @ Home—home-based access to Internet tools and information for families.

Other prominent corporations and high-tech vendors also responded by committing resources to the New Markets Initiative. The Kaiser Family Foundation committed to a media campaign to motivate young people to "get connected." Gateway launched a program to provide technology training to 75,000 teachers, including all teachers in East Palo Alto. QUALCOMM promised $25 million for San Diego, including $7 million for math and science education.

PowerUP, with major support from America Online, agreed to expand 250 technology centers for underserved youth across the U.S. Novell promised to donate $20 million in software to non-profits devoted to underserved Hispanic populations. Cisco pledged $1.4 million to develop 10 pilot networking academies. Applied Material and AT&T also pledged funds, while PeoplePC and govWorks's Community Commitment Program promised to provide hardware to underserved communities.