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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 1996
Philadelphia, PA -- Philadelphia's 215,000 school
children and 12,000 teachers will have access to the Internet come
September thanks to a $500,000 Bell Atlantic grant that will place
computers in all 256 public school libraries for the first time.
Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania President and CEO William Harral presented the
donation today to School Superintendent David Hornbeck at the Harrity
Elementary School in West Philadelphia. During the ceremony, attended by
Mayor Ed Rendell, kindergarten and fourth grade students navigated the
Internet's World Wide Web. They retrieved a symbolic on-line check from
Bell Atlantic's Internet site and demonstrated the variety of educational
tools and resources available to help with classroom projects.
"Bringing the latest technology to our schools -- at all levels and
in all communities -- enables our students to reach beyond their
neighborhoods and obtain the best educational resources in the
world," said Rendell. "And as they learn to use the computers,
students can gain the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the
job market of the future."
The grant is part of Bell Atlantic's "Pennsylvania Advantage"
initiative whose goal is to improve education, healthcare and economic
development in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. The company has
provided $2.9 million in previous technology grants to benefit libraries
and educational institutions including Pennsylvania's rural libraries,
the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia's Free Libraries.
"Bell Atlantic believes that people should be united, not divided,
by technology," Harral said. "Computers are no longer islands
of information that students use in isolation. Today's Internet user can
access everything from congressional hearings to on-line discussions of
differential calculus. They can reach out and pluck a book from the
Library of Congress. And they can communicate with 30 million users
worldwide. The Internet's ability to unlock new vistas is truly
"This grant makes possible a critical part of our ambitious plan for
children achieving in Philadelphia's
public schools," said Hornbeck.
The Bell Atlantic gift will be used to purchase new computers and
printers that will ensure each school library has at least one computer
and one printer. Additionally, the gift will jump start the district's
effort to connect all of these computers to the Internet. Installation
of the equipment will be complete by September.
Many schools already have computer labs for training purposes, but this
gift will help transform libraries into technology resource centers where
students and teachers can extend classroom work and get greater access to
the Internet and instructional data bases, Hornbeck said.
The plan to put Philadelphia schools on-line is part of "Children
Achieving," the school system's education reform plan, A year ago,
philanthropist Walter Annenberg gave $50 million to support this effort
with the condition that the school district raise another $100 million in
private and public money. "Bell Atlantic's donation is the largest
corporate gift we've received in a single year under the Annenberg
challenge," Hornbeck said. "Thanks to the generosity of all of
our benefactors, we now have nearly $90 million in matching funds."
Bell Atlantic's grant and technical assistance also helped Philadelphia
secure a five-year $9.5 million technology challenge grant from the U.S.
Department of Education that will be used to connect schools to the
telecommunications network and provide training for staff members. The
equipment purchased also will help promote technology education being
funded by a National Science Foundation grant, Hornbeck said.
The "Children Achieving" plan has 10 components that include
shrinking the Philadelphia schools' centralized bureaucracy, giving
intensive professional development to teachers and staff, providing
up-to-date technology, and engaging the public in school reform.
Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE: BEL) is at the forefront of the new
communications, entertainment and information industry. In the
mid-Atlantic region, the company is the premier provider of local
telecommunications and advanced services. Globally, it is one of the
largest investors in the high-growth wireless communication marketplace.
Bell Atlantic also owns a substantial interest in Telecom Corporation of
New Zealand and is actively developing high-growth national and
international business opportunities in all phases of the industry.
Philadelphia School District
(must be viewed with Netscape 2.0 or better)
- Bell Atlantic: Sharon Shaffer, (215) 963-6200
School District: Paul Hanson, (215)299-7850