Armonk, N.Y. - 20 Sep 2012: IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced that it is awarding early childhood education improvement grants of technology, services and cash valued at $1.3 million to five U.S. states whose progressive and successful early education programs have been recognized as exemplary by the federal government.
These states -- Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Rhode Island -- have all received funding from the United States Department of Education under its $500 million Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge competitive grant program. Race to the Top, which encourages and rewards innovation and reforms in early care and education, recognizes states that have effective educators; are improving programs; and implementing standards and assessments that better prepare students for education and the workplace.
The Department of Education has encouraged researchers, entrepreneurs, foundations, non-profits and others to work with the early learning communities in these states to fortify their efforts. IBM has responded by providing grants over the next three years to states that have secured Race to the Top funding.
The grants include IBM's KidSmart Young Explorer™ computer learning centers. These are computers housed in brightly colored, child-friendly furniture and equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. IBM grants also include Reading Companion, technology specially designed to assist children as they learn to read. Accessible online, this innovative software uses IBM voice recognition technology to "listen" to new readers and provides feedback. It helps children improve fundamental reading skills and pronunciation.
For some of the states recognized with Race to the Top grants, IBM is also providing installation and training to ensure the effectiveness of the donated KidSmart and Reading Companion technology. In some instances, IBM is providing additional services, such as helping to create project management software, developing mobile apps or providing advice on capturing data.
"With the right hands-on instruction, the use of technology to engage and enhance young children’s learning experiences can make a lifelong impact," said Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children and Technology. "IBM is providing such technology and related services to states that have earned Race to the Top funding. No doubt these states, given their visionary approach to technology and education, will put these resources from IBM to good use as they strive to prepare children for a lifetime of learning and accomplishment."
IBM is focused on providing its innovative technologies to increase the number of children who acquire the skills needed to be successful. The company believes that success in early childhood learning is a critical first step, and that technology, used effectively, can be a vitally important aid.
"IBM congratulates all states that have earned Race to the Top grants," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and president of IBM's International Foundation. "These states clearly are in the vanguard when it comes to providing innovative educational models for their youngest children. We thought it was important that the private sector, led by IBM, support their efforts by providing them with exciting technology and expert services that can be a valuable component in taking their efforts to even higher levels of success."
Young Explorers are the centerpiece of IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning grant program which, along with Reading Companion, IBM developed nearly 15 years ago to help reduce the digital divide, especially in urban areas, where it was becoming apparent that children from less affluent backgrounds needed access to specialized technology tools and educational materials to better prepare them to enter school.
IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning grant program enriches pre-kindergarten curriculum with interactive teaching and learning activities using the latest technology. The program includes access to the KidSmart website www.kidsmartearlylearning.org. Accessible in eight languages, the site helps parents guide their children's use of technology, and helps preschool teachers use technology more effectively in their classrooms.
Since the inception of the KidSmart Early Learning Program, IBM has invested more than $133 million, donating more than 70,000 Young Explorers to schools and nonprofit organizations in 60 countries, reaching more than 105,000 teachers and more than 10 million students.
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