IBM and United Way Launch National Early Learning Initiative

Provide Technology Access To More than 5,000 Children of Low Income Families

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NEW YORK CITY - 15 Dec 1998: . . . IBM and United Way of America today launched the IBM KidSmart Early Learning Program, an innovative childhood learning initiative designed to give pre-kindergarten youngsters at United Way-funded centers a jump-start on education through fun, interactive learning and access to new technology.

At ceremonies today in Washington, D.C. and New York City, officials from IBM and United Way announced plans to install more than 1,000 state-of-the-art Young Explorer™ computer learning centers in not-for-profit childcare settings and public schools nationwide over the next year. Nearly 5, 000 children in New York City, Washington, D.C., Austin, Atlanta, Fishkill, Los Angeles, Raleigh and Toronto will be participating in these pilots by year end.

The $3 million KidSmart Early Learning Program includes donations of the new IBM/Little Tikes Young Explorer™ computer stations specially designed for children ages 3-7, a host of award-winning educational software, and learning materials for teachers and care providers. A special committee comprised of early childhood development experts from across the U.S., including Dr. James Comer, Yale University Professor of Child Psychiatry, Dr. Arthur Levine, president of Teachers College at Columbia, and leaders of the nation's largest teacher's unions, will play an advisory role in shaping the pilot program.

"Through this partnership our goal is to bring more than 500,000 children and families, who depend on the agencies and programs of United Way for childcare services, a chance to broaden their experiences. This program will provide the same kind of interactive learning to these children as other children their ages receive," said Betty Beene, president, United Way of America. "We have great expectations for the KidSmart Early Learning Program over the next several years."

"Every poll indicates that Americans are most concerned about the state of education," said IBM's Stanley Litow, vice president of Corporate Community Relations and president of the IBM International Foundation. "By offering children a quality early learning opportunity through the KidSmart Early Learning Program, we are hopeful that it will increase the likelihood of success in school."

New York City's Bank Street College of Education, known for its expertise in early childhood learning, will conduct an in-depth evaluation of the program at each of the pilot sites and provide analysis throughout the four-to-six-month pilot period and the subsequent national roll out. Specialized training materials, including a multimedia guide for teachers and parents, are being developed by the not-for-profit Center for Children and Technology.

All of the KidSmart Early Learning Program pilot sites will receive at least one or more Young Explorer™ units. The all-in-one computing solution combines a powerful IBM network-ready computer, a 14-inch color monitor, durable, creative furniture designed by Little Tikes, and award-winning educational software from Edmark.

The Center for Children and Technology and the Bank Street College for Education will play a critical, ongoing role in the initial stages of the pilot sites. Much of Bank Street's focus will be formative, taking close study of how the program is integrated into the existing curriculum, what the children and teachers like about it, and the patterns in children's usage. The Center for Children and Technology will closely track the initiative in each city to compile sufficient data to create a multimedia guide that allows parents and teachers who are not familiar with the use of technology in the early childhood classroom to get a sense of what to expect.

In addition, an advisory group of leading educators and children's advocates will play an active role in guiding the program's development. Members of the committee are:

Each year, IBM provides a corporate gift of $7.5 million to the United Way system. This includes $2.5 million in cash and $5 million in technology to more than 1,000 not-for-profit agencies nationwide.

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