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Microsoft Fosters Technology Access, Training Programs at Tribal Colleges.

Program Opens Door to Technology for American Indians

REDMOND, Wash., and SHIPROCK, N.M., April 17 /PRNewswire/ --

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced a $2.75 million digital divide donation aimed at improving the technology infrastructure and instruction at eight tribal colleges across the western United States. The announcement will take place in Shiprock, N.M., as part of President Clinton's third New Markets tour, which is focused on creating digital opportunity for youth, families and communities. During his time in Shiprock, the president will tour Dine College, one of the recipients of the Microsoft donation.

"The best digital divide solutions will create a continuum of education and economic opportunity, taking into account cultural and geographic needs," said Steve Ballmer, president and CEO, Microsoft. "This program enables tribal college graduates to put their new skills to work in the community, expanding the impact of the technology and expertise exponentially."

Tribal colleges represent an important source of post-high-school education for American Indians, who as a group have the most limited access to technology and the Internet. "With a high level of poverty and geographical isolation, American Indians are the ethnic group most likely to be caught on the wrong side of the digital divide," said Jose C' de Baca, executive director of the American Indian Science and Technology Education Consortium (AISTEC), which will disperse the funding and manage the program. "Microsoft and AISTEC have already made significant strides in advancing opportunities in technology for American Indians, and this initiative will help develop the significant talent that already exists at tribal colleges."

Each of the eight tribal colleges will receive $25,000 cash grants and varied software grants, paired with intensive training and year-long mentorship support from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM. New Mexico Highlands University will receive a $60,000 cash grant plus software to implement training programs and act as the tribal college's mentor institution. The grants total $260,000 cash and approximately $2.5 million in software (estimated retail value).

Through the program, AISTEC will support local area network development, distance learning, tribal college infrastructure and program/curriculum enhancement at the eight participating colleges.

For the past two years, Microsoft has funded similar training and software grants on a smaller scale at four of these tribal colleges (noted in the list below). This program significantly expands that support and builds on a successful model of intensive instructor training and peer support. Cumulative funding over the past three years totals $455,000 and $5 million in software. The following tribal colleges are involved in the new initiative:

-- Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kan. (third year of

funding)

-- Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash. (third year of funding)

-- Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Mont. (third year of funding)

-- Dine College, Tsaile, Ariz. (second year of funding)

-- Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, Mont.

-- Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, Mont.

-- Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, Albuquerque, N.M.

-- White Earth Tribal and Community College, Minn.

Microsoft's work with AISTEC is one component of the company's efforts toward improving technology access and training for American Indians. Other programs include the following:

-- The Evergreen State College (TESC)/Skokomish Tribe. This is the second

year of a program that extends TESC's reservation-based education

programs by using technology to enhance the curriculum and delivery of

undergraduate education to the Skokomish reservation (Hood Canal,

Wash.). Donations to date include $75,000 plus approximately $80,000 in

software.

-- Oglalla-Lakota College, Pineridge, S.D. Microsoft donated approximately

$350,000 in software to OLC in July 1999 to improve access for their

students.

-- Boys & Girls Club, Las Courtes de Orielles, Wis. As part of a national

initiative with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Microsoft provided

more than $50,000 in cash and approximately $45,000 in software in

June 1999 to help this club -- which serves the Ojibwe people of

northern Wisconsin -- establish a new technology center.

-- Ilisagvik College, Barrow, Alaska. In February, through Microsoft's

Working Connections program, the company donated $225,000 in cash and

approximately $250,000 in software to help this remote community

college provide information technology training (through outreach

activities) to primarily Inuit communities on Alaska's North Slope.

Created in 1983, Microsoft's community affairs program is one of the first philanthropic efforts in the high-tech industry. The company's worldwide charitable efforts are aimed at increasing access to technology for disadvantaged communities and supporting community organizations in the areas of education, human services, civic development, the arts and the environment. Last year, Microsoft gave more than $25 million in cash and $79 million in software* to more than 5,000 nonprofit organizations.

About AISTEC

NASA started AISTEC in 1994 to enhance mathematics and science education opportunities for American Indian students and to increase the numbers of American Indian students who pursue and complete university degrees in those fields. It has been one of the more successful national educational programs in designing, developing and implementing programmatic strategies to achieve these goals. AISTEC's primary efforts have been to help tribal colleges develop curricula that aligns with major engineering and technology colleges and universities and to reinforce support networks that help students make the transition from tribal colleges to universities.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft 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.

*Based on estimated retail value.

NOTE: Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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Date:Apr 17, 2000
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