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Applies $9.5 million in federal fundingApplies $9.5 million in federal fundingtwoard improving 'information technology' With the aid of a five-year, $9.5 million grant from the Department of Education, the University has been able to assist in local schools' transitions into the information age. The Challenge Grant for technology in education was given to 19 communities in 16 states last fall. The 19 school districts in these communities work in partnerships with 134 other school districts in 23 states. Philadelphia received the largest single grant among the cities that were awarded funds under the Technology Challenge Grant award. According to Dan Updegrove, executive director of Data Communications and Computing Services, the Center for Community Partnerships and Information Systems and Computing are seeking to improve the quality of education in local schools while offering undergraduates an opportunity to engage in community service. Updegrove said that applying information technology to school curricula can lead to improved instruction in neighborhood schools. "It's a win-win situation if we can make education more productive and engaging," Updegrove said. "It's a classic case of doing well by doing good." One facet of the project includes providing e-mail accounts for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in West Philadelphia with the support of the Office of Information Systems and Computing. In addition, faculty and students involved in academically based community service courses and other volunteers will provide curriculum development to help students and teachers utilize technology in their schools. For instance, one undergraduate class mentors a high school English class using e-mail. The Center is organizing training and evaluation programs for teachers, students and their families. The Center for Community Partnerships is supporting 12 students to provide technology training and assistance for program participants. Schools, businesses, libraries, museums and community organizations are matching the grant with commitments for equipment, software development, technical support and other expenses. The total value of matching commitments for the five-year period is projected to be more than $300 million. The University already offers 50 Internet accounts through its own modem pool and via LibertyNet, an organization which promotes access to the Internet in the Philadelphia region. "Through LibertyNet we have created a rich multimedia source about Philadelphia," Updegrove said. "LibertyNet serves to disseminate information promoting various organizations in the city." The center and ISC meet almost weekly to brainstorm programs. "A whole range of projects focus on community outreach and provide opportunities for students to be engaged with the community using technical expertise," Updegrove said.

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