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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release

April 4, 2000

THE CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATION: A NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE April 4, 2000

President Clinton Will Announce Today That Over 400 Companies And Non-Profit Organizations Have Signed A "National Call To Action" To Bring Digital Opportunity To Youth, Families And Communities. The President will be joined by the Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Senator Barbara Mikulski and Julian Lacey, a longtime volunteer at Plugged In, a Community Technology Center in East Palo Alto, California. He will announce his "National Call to Action" to help bring digital opportunity to youth, families and communities around the country. Over 400 companies and non-profit organizations have agreed to sign this Call to Action.

President Clinton's "National Call To Action." President Clinton has issued a "National Call to Action" to challenge corporations and non-profit organizations to take concrete steps to meet two critical goals:

- Provide 21st Century Learning Tools For Every Child In Every School. For children to succeed, they need to master basic skills at an early age. The ability to use technology to learn and succeed in the workplace of the 21st century has become a "new basic" -- creating a national imperative to ensure that every child is technologically literate. To reach this goal, America needs a comprehensive approach to connect every classroom, provide all students with access to multimedia computers, train teachers to use and integrate technology into the curriculum, and to provide high quality online content and educational software.

- Create Digital Opportunity For Every American Family And Community. For all families and communities to benefit from the New Economy, we must ensure that all Americans have access to technology and the skills needed to use it. We must work to meet the long-term goal of making home access to the Internet universal, bring technology to every neighborhood through community technology centers, empower all citizens with IT skills, and motivate more people to appreciate the value of "getting connected."

The President Will Announce Several Initiatives To Help Bring Digital Opportunity To All Americans. The President will announce the following initiatives that demonstrate a real commitment by the public and private sectors to work together to bridge the digital divide:

- $12.5 Million For An "E-Corps." The Corporation for National Service will commit $10 million to recruit 750 qualified AmeriCorps members for projects aimed at bringing digital opportunity to youth, families and communities. These volunteers will provide technical support to school computer systems, tutor at Community Technology Centers, and offer IT training for high-tech careers. The Corporation for National Service will also commit $2.5 million for digital divide projects under the Learn and Serve program, which allows young people to make a difference in their communities while going to school.

- Yahoo! Will Invest $1 Million in Digital Opportunity. Yahoo! will provide an Internet advertising campaign worth $1 million to enlist volunteers with high-tech skills for AmeriCorps' digital divide initiative. The Yahoo! banner ads will help AmeriCorps meet the challenge of recruiting volunteers with high-tech skills to work on technology-related projects.

- 3Com Launches NetPrep GYRLS. In partnership with the YWCA's TechGYRLS program, 3Com will announce NetPrep GYRLS, a $330,000 program that will offer girls aged 14-16 training in computer networking. Currently, women represent less than 30 percent of U.S. computer scientists and computer programmers. The 3Com NetPrep curriculum will allow high school girls to focus their technical education on computer networking, leading to an industry-standard certification. 3Com expects to reach 600 girls in 30 NetPrep GYRLS locations across the country.

- American Library Association. The American Library Association will pledge to help bridge the digital divide by working with its members to create or expand "information literacy" programs in at least 250 communities around the country. People with information literacy skills are able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use it effectively.

President Clinton Will Also Announce His Third New Markets Tour - From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity. On April 17-18, President Clinton, accompanied by CEOs, Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries and community leaders will focus national attention on initiatives aimed at overcoming the digital divide and creating opportunities for youth, families and communities. The President will travel to East Palo Alto, California; the Navajo Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico; and Chicago, Illinois to highlight private and public-sector initiatives to help bring digital opportunity to all Americans. Later this month, the President will travel to rural North Carolina to stress the importance of expanding rural access to the emerging broadband Internet.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE AND CREATING DIGITAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL AMERICANS

Access to computers and the Internet and the ability to effectively use this technology are becoming increasingly important for full participation in America's economic, political and social life. People are using the Internet to find lower prices for goods and services, work from home or start their own business, acquire new skills using distance learning, and make better informed decisions about their healthcare needs. The ability to use technology is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, and jobs in the rapidly growing information technology sector pay almost 80 percent more than the average private sector wage.

Technology, used creatively, can also make a big difference in the way teachers teach and students learn. In some classrooms, teachers are using the Internet to keep up with the latest developments in their field, exchange lesson plans with their colleagues, and communicate more frequently with parents. Students are able to log on to the Library of Congress to download primary documents for a history paper, explore the universe with an Internet-connected telescope used by professional astronomers, and engage in more active "learning by doing." Students are also creating powerful Internet-based learning resources that can be used by other students -- such as award-winning Web sites on endangered species, the biology of sleep, human perception of sound, and an exploration of the American judicial system.

Access to computers and the Internet has exploded during the Clinton-Gore Administration. Unfortunately, there is strong evidence of a "digital divide" -- a gap between those individuals and communities that have access to these Information Age tools and those who don't. A July 1999 report from the Department of Commerce, based on December 1998 Census Department data, revealed that:

- Better educated Americans more likely to be connected. Between 1997 and 1998, the technology divide between those at the highest and lowest education levels increased 25%. In 1998, those with a college degree are more than eight times likely to have a computer at home and nearly sixteen times as likely to have home Internet access as those with an elementary school education.

- The gap between high- and low-income Americans is increasing. In the last year, the divide between those at the highest and lowest income levels grew 29%. Urban households with incomes of $75,000 or higher are more than twenty times more likely to have access to the Internet than rural households at the lowest income levels, and more than nine times as likely to have a computer at home.

- Whites more likely to be connected than African-Americans or Hispanics. The digital divide also persists along racial and ethnic lines. Whites are more likely to have access to the Internet from home than African-Americans or Hispanics have from any location. African-American and Hispanic households are roughly two-fifths as likely to have home Internet access as white households. However, for incomes of $75,000 and higher, the divide between whites and African-Americans has narrowed considerably in the last year.

- Rural areas less likely to be connected than urban users. Regardless of income level, those living in rural areas are lagging behind in computer ownership and Internet access. At some income levels, those in urban areas are 50% more likely to have Internet access than those earning the same income in rural areas. Low income households in rural areas are the least connected, with connectivity rates in the singles digits for both computers and Internet access.

In addition, data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals a 'digital divide' in our nation's schools. As of the fall of 1998, 39 percent of classrooms of poor schools were connected to the Internet, as compared to 74 percent in wealthier schools.

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