| October 31, 2000
Technology For All (TFA) has announced an agreement with the online learning company SmartForce’s e-Learning Foundation (S.E.L.F.) to provide computer proficiency training scholarships to disadvantaged communities across the US. The announcement was made in Boston prior to a meeting of the America Connects Consortium, which is based at EDC. The America Connects Consortium (ACC), through a U. S. Department of Education grant, will provide technical and organizational assistance to further the work of community technology centers (CTCs) in low-income areas.
Part of a collaboration between Technology For All and its program partners, the America Connects Consortium aims to bridge the digital divide, the gap between those who have access to technology and those who do not, by increasing access to capital and opportunities in the IT industry. The scholarship program will provide SmartForce e-Learning to people who would otherwise not have access to technology training.
With a potential value in excess of $ 30 million, the in-kind scholarships will reach up to 450,000 students over a three year period at CTCs operated by TFA program partners, which include the America Connects Consortium, HUD’s Neighborhood Network initiative, member organizations of the Community Technology Centers Network, the LINCT coalition, and local initiatives that bring technology resources and training to their communities.
The program marks another installment of a broader initiative to distribute e-Learning scholarships through the SmartForce eLearning Foundation. Initially, Technology For All will work with Technology For All-Houston (TFA-Houston) and the 75+ CTCs that TFA-Houston supports in collaboration with community based organizations in Houston, Texas. TFA will then take the program nationwide in collaboration with the America Connects Consortium and its other program partners. These training scholarships will be offered in an effort to work together to prepare a skilled workforce for the growing needs of America’s employers.
“Technology training and workforce development are critical to the growth and prosperity of our nation’s economy,” said Technology For All President and COO William S. Reed. Enron Chairman and CEO Kenneth L. Lay, Chair of the Technology For All Board of Directors praised the gift. “The SmartForce e-Learning scholarships will give the people of America an opportunity to prepare for jobs in the burgeoning high tech economy. This partnership is a great example of how the public and private sectors can support our mutual goal to build a workforce ready to meet the growing demands of this robust industry.”
The SmartForce e-Learning Foundation partners with non-profit organizations that have created workforce development programs in their communities. Partner organizations select scholarship recipients, each of whom will receive one year of access to SmartForce’s comprehensive Internet-based e-Learning environment, including access to SmartForce’s premier library of more than 1,200 courses, 24x7 expert mentoring, discussion groups and online seminars. SmartForce’s award-winning e-Learning offerings cover a broad array of information technology topics, as well as critical business and workplace skills such as team building, conflict resolution, financial management, and others. The e-Learning Foundation reaches communities throughout the US with its activities and eventually will expand worldwide.
“SmartForce recognizes the serious impact the digital divide is making on communities and the IT industry,” said Greg Priest, president and CEO of SmartForce. “At SmartForce, we believe it is important to empower people with the knowledge necessary to embrace the digital age. Through the SmartForce e-Learning Foundation, our company has established a way to give people access to better jobs and better lives by providing scholarship grants to agencies and organizations. This partnership reflects our commitment to bridging the digital divide and to creating opportunities for disadvantaged persons in communities across the US and around the world.”