IBM, United Way Offer National Early Learning Program to North Carolina Children

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. - 27 Oct 1999: -- Today IBM® announced an early learning program designed to help thousands of preschool-aged children with limited access to educational technology get a head start on their academic development. The initiative, called the "KidSmart Early Learning Program,'' debuts today when IBM, in collaboration with United Way, unveils 94 colorful Young Explorer Early Learning Centers to the 35 local childcare centers in the Triangle and the Charlotte Metro areas. A total of eighty-two machines are now at the 29 Triangle area centers and 12 machines are now in six Charlotte area childcare centers.

The North Carolina program is part of a sweeping national KidSmart program taking place in 44 states with a total of 1,000 Young Explorers donated to over 400 not-for-profit childcare centers and preschools. In total, KidSmart will offer more than 250,000 children nationwide the opportunity to explore, discover and solve problems using computer and software technology.

"Research evidence clearly shows that high-quality early learning programs, with strong teacher training, can yield long-term gains in student achievement,'' said David Benevides, IBM Regional Director, Corporate Community Relations and Public Affairs. "With this program, IBM provides an important opportunity to our youngest learners, who are instinctively drawn to technology as a source of education and fun.''

The IBM KidSmart program includes the Young Explorer Early Learning Centers, which feature award-winning children's software and technology from Edmark and IBM, enclosed in colorful play stations manufactured by Little Tikes.

IBM collaborated with United Way to select the specific childcare centers for participation, as well as the number of Young Explorers donated to each site. The guidelines established for the program are based on one Young Explorer for every ten children in the nonprofit agencies.

"United Way is proud to collaborate with IBM on an extraordinary program that will give thousands of children a hands-on experience with technology and effectively increase their opportunities for success as they begin elementary school,'' said Tom Dugard, President of the Triangle United Way. "It's particularly gratifying that children in United Way agencies across Durham, Orange and Wake counties benefit from these educational and fun computers, designed to support their learning.''

According to a recent report released by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide, the gap that exists in the U.S. is widening over time. The report says that until every home can afford access to information resources, public and private initiatives are needed to expand access.

Enhancing The Day-Care Environment
To ensure that the computer technology achieves its best use in the classrooms, the KidSmart Early Learning Program includes training for preschool teachers at every center. Early learning educational materials developed by New York City's Center for Children and Technology will be made available on a special Website that will provide teachers with an important resource for information, demonstrate how computers can be fully integrated into an age-appropriate learning curriculum and enable them to share their best ideas with teachers in other KidSmart sites.

The curriculum is based on a set of standards for the use of technology developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"Our goal is to enhance the childcare environment by contributing activities and learning that reflect the highest ideals of early childhood education,'' Mr. Benevides said. "We want to bridge the gap that separates children of low-income families from those families with computers in their homes.''

IBM introduced the Young Explorer in eight communities during its pilot KidSmart Early Learning Program in late 1998, involving 50 childcare centers and nearly 5,000 preschool children. Bank Street College of Education, a national resource and leader in early childhood education, evaluated the KidSmart program and recognized it as fun, educational and an asset to the classroom.

In its evaluation of IBM's pilot program, Bank Street College made a variety of key recommendations that have since been included in the national program. They include providing teacher training in the use of the software and its integration in the curriculum, and creating an interactive Web site where teachers can share their ideas and demonstrate how they have integrated the computer with their early childhood education curriculum.

IBM's Commitment to U.S. Education
Using technology to enhance public education is a priority at IBM. Since 1994, the mainstay of the company's community giving has been the award-winning Reinventing Education grant program in which technology is used to overcome barriers to public school reform. This program is achieving outstanding success at grant sites throughout the country.

North Carolina hosts two Reinventing Education sites, one in the Charlotte Public School system and one at Durham Public Schools. Reinventing education sites are now scattered across the globe as IBM extends the company's program to new school systems.

"IBM launched Reinventing Education because we felt business had a tremendous responsibility to improve education and because IBM's technical expertise, working in collaboration with school leaders, could make a unique and meaningful difference in our schools,'' Mr. Benevides said. "Those same guiding principles hold true with the KidSmart Early Learning Program. There is no other social issue more critical to the future of this world than how well we educate our children.''

KidSmart Locations (Research Triangle Park Area):
-- Ashbury Preschool -- Durham, NC
-- Busy Street/Community Allies for Children, Inc. -- Durham, NC
-- Community Learning Centers & Capital Area YMCA -- Raleigh, NC
-- Durham Child Care Council -- Durham, NC
-- Durham County Literacy Council -- Durham, NC
-- Durham Nursery and Preschool -- Durham, NC
-- Edgemont Community Center -- Durham, NC
-- Family Preschool -- Chapel Hill, NC
-- Halifax Court Child Care and Family Services Center -- Raleigh, NC
-- Inter-Faith Council for Social Service -- Chapel Hill, NC
-- John Avery Boys and Girls Club -- Durham, NC
-- Learning Together, Inc. -- Raleigh, NC
-- Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood -- Cary, NC
-- "Mi Escuelita'' Spanish Preschool of Iglesia Unida de Cristo -- Chapel Hill, NC
-- NCCU Child Development Laboratory -- Durham, NC
-- Playspace Children's Museum -- Raleigh, NC
-- Raleigh Nursery School, Inc. -- Raleigh, NC
-- Saint James Family Life Center -- Durham, NC
-- The Salvation Army Boys' and Girls' Club -- Durham, NC
-- The Salvation Army -- Western Triangle District -- Durham, NC
-- Scarborough Nursery School, Inc. -- Raleigh, NC
-- Southlight, Inc. -- Raleigh, NC
-- Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities -- Raleigh, NC
-- Tuttle Community Center -- Raleigh, NC
-- Victory Village Day Care Center, Inc. -- Chapel Hill, NC
-- Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network -- Raleigh, NC
-- White Plains Children's Center -- Cary, NC
-- The Women's Center -- Chapel Hill, NC
-- YMCA of Greater Durham -- Durham, NC

KidSmart Locations (Charlotte Metro Area):
-- Ada Jenkins Families Development Center -- Davidson, NC
-- Metrolina AIDS Project Agape Center -- Charlotte, NC
-- Seigle Avenue Preschool -- Charlotte, NC
-- Thompson Child Development Center -- Charlotte, NC
-- United Cerebal Palsy Developmental Center -- Charlotte, NC
-- YWCA Early Childhood Program -- Charlotte, NC

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