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Young Latino Children Throughout Los Angeles County to Benefit from IBM Donation of Educational Computer Learning Centers.

Donation to Los Angeles Universal Preschool Aims to Raise Interest in Science and Math Among Hispanic Children

LOS ANGELES -- IBM has donated 50 children's educational computer learning centers with bilingual software to Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) with the intent of improving access to technology for hundreds of at-risk Latino students at LAUP preschools throughout Los Angeles County.

The "Young Explorer Learning Center[TM]" computers are part of IBM's KidSmart Early Learning Program and the total grant is valued at $100,000. They integrate interactive teaching and learning activities in English and Spanish using the latest technology into the pre-kindergarten curriculum. The computer learning stations will be installed at 50 LAUP preschools countywide.

IBM launched the KidSmart program initiative as part of its commitment to generate interest in math and science among students and to ultimately increase the number of students entering into science, math and technology careers. The emphasis on Latino children is based on projections that in America, the Hispanic community is expected to comprise 25 percent of the overall population by 2050, making the U.S. home to the largest Hispanic population in the world.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the Van Nuys Civic Child Development Center, where a demonstration of the computer learning centers took place Nov. 16, said the computer learning centers will enhance the educational experience of the young children.

"IBM's early learning computers can help inspire kids to create and learn because they incorporate an element of play, engaging their minds and imaginations in a truly unique way as nothing else can," he said.

Today, the number of Hispanic students pursuing careers in science, math and technology is extremely low, said Don Jue, IBM's senior executive in Los Angeles County. "We know that early childhood education through terrific organizations like LAUP can prepare children to learn so that math and science skills are within their grasp, and one day may lead to more Hispanic scientists and engineers," Jue said.

Latinos accounted for only 4.2 percent of engineering degrees awarded in 2005 and a scant 1.5 percent doctorate degrees, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Furthermore, Hispanic students are dropping out of high school at an alarming 24 percent national rate, which is higher than any other ethnic population.

Gary Mangiofico, CEO of LAUP, said the KidSmart Program will help teach young children concepts in math, science and language as well as the skills needed to be successful in the classroom.

"All students deserve access to the same resources," he said. "Some populations face a disparity, however, especially where English may be a second language. We're excited to be part of this initiative and deliver high-quality teaching resources to all of our children participating in this program."

IBM developed the KidSmart program more than a decade ago to help reduce the digital divide, especially in urban areas, where it was becoming apparent that children from less affluent backgrounds could benefit from access to specialized technology tools and educational materials to better prepare them to enter school.

The Young Explorer computers are housed in brightly-colored, kid-friendly Little Tikes [TM] furniture and are equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. The computer centers can also help children learn important socialization skills such as how to work together and sharing.

The KidSmart Early Learning Program has benefited students in 60 countries worldwide, serving more than 10 million children and 100,000 teachers.

Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) is a non-profit organization established to provide high-quality preschool education to the children in Los Angeles County. Since 2005, its creative model that focuses on high-quality has touched the lives of more than 30,000 preschool-aged children through enriching curricula and nurturing environments aimed to best prepare four-year-olds to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. LAUP is primarily funded by First 5 LA, and is lauded as a premier organization by the California Council for Excellence.

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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Nov 16, 2009
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