Governor Fletcher Announces Initiative to Give Students Free Home Computers

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Contact Information:  Kasey Joyner, ConnectKentucky

Kate Storey, for Microsoft

“No Child Left Offline” initiative, boosted by $1.5 million software grant from Microsoft,
will refurbish surplus state computers for thousands of students in need

Lexington, Ky., October 11, 2005: Today, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher introduced No Child Left Offline, an innovative project that brings together public and private partners to help all Kentucky households join the Information Age. Through the program, which is the most comprehensive initiative of its kind undertaken by any state in the nation, surplus government computers will be refurbished and distributed to children who lack computers at home. The program ensures that thousands of computers will be saved from landfills and put to work for Kentucky families.

“Kentucky has ranked near the bottom in home computer use,” Governor Fletcher said. “This initiative gives deserving students and their families the tools necessary to improve their lives through technology. No Child Left Offline illustrates what is possible when government agencies work well together and in partnership with the private sector.”

ConnectKentucky, a non-profit organization that promotes technology-based economic development in the Commonwealth, is coordinating the project with operational support from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership established by Congress to assist the Appalachian Region, and the Department for Innovation and Commercialization in the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet.

About a third of low-income eighth grade students in Kentucky do not have computers at home, and Kentucky as a whole ranks 45th out of 50 states in household computer use. Families unable to access the Internet often cite computer ownership as a major barrier.

“Giving students their own computers to take home will not only help them do better at school, it will open the doors to information and education for the whole family,” Education Secretary Virginia Fox said. “Technology enables countless opportunities to improve the standard of living for Kentucky families.”

In the project’s pilot phase, 500 eligible students will take home refurbished PCs loaded with the latest programs from Microsoft Corp. and a new printer courtesy of Lexmark International, Inc. Student eligibility will be based on financial need and desire to participate.

Microsoft has donated 2,000 copies of Microsoft XP and Microsoft Office 2003, valued at more than $1.5 million, as part of its worldwide community investment program to help broaden digital inclusion and bring the benefits of technology and technology skills training to one quarter of a billion underserved people by 2010.  Lexmark has donated 800 sets of Lexmark Z615 color inkjet printers and replacement cartridges, valued at $105,000.

“ConnectKentucky and Governor Fletcher work tirelessly to help underserved citizens throughout Kentucky more fully realize their potential,” said Microsoft Heartland District General Manager Marietta Davis.  “Microsoft has long believed that inside each and every person there is great potential – for many, however, economic and cultural issues impede their abilities to harness this power and achieve their goals.  That is why we have provided more than $15 million in cash and software to community organizations throughout the state since 1997.  Giving the resources is the easy part, but working hands-on to help people transform their lives like ConnectKentucky does everyday is where the real magic occurs.  We feel privileged to be a part of these efforts.”

Inmates employed at Kentucky Correctional Industries are already at work recycling and upgrading surplus computers collected from state agencies. Through the program, inmates are learning job skills that will make them employable citizens upon their release.  Governor Fletcher announced the initiative at the 9th annual conference of the Rural Telecommunications Congress, held Oct. 9-12 in Lexington, Ky.

“In state government, Governor Fletcher has created a culture of cooperation that has allowed an awareness of opportunities such as No Child Left Offline,” said Kentucky Finance Cabinet Secretary Robbie Rudolph. “By consolidating technology responsibilities into one agency, the Commonwealth Office of Technology, we have the ability to more effectively track and maintain our computer inventory. This will allow us to make optimum use of the computers for state workers. When they can no longer meet the requirements of the professional user, instead of dumping them in landfills or selling them for pennies on the dollar, we will make them available for the children of Kentucky. The return on that investment will be priceless.”

About ConnectKentucky
ConnectKentucky is an alliance of technology-minded businesses, government entities, and universities working together to accelerate technology in the Commonwealth. ConnectKentucky has received national acclaim as a "best-practice" in new economy strategies.
About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

About Lexmark
Lexmark International, Inc. (NYSE: LXK) makes it easier for businesses and consumers to move information between the digital and paper worlds. Since its inception in 1991, Lexmark has become a leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of printing and imaging solutions for customers in more than 150 countries.