Microsoft Announces Extension of Shape the Future Program for Low Income Students

By Oliver VanDervoort September 20, 2011

While technology companies are out to make money, there has been a concerted effort over the last few years to get their tech to lower income families. Across the ocean, a cell phone company has released a new model in Africa that is aimed at the $1 a day earner. This cheaper “cloud based” phone will allow people who never dreamed they would have a cell phone access to one. In the states, Comcast has rolled out an Internet package for low incomes families that only cost $10 per month, about $30-$40 less a month than their average package. Most recently, Microsoft re-upped their initiatives as they announced an extension of a program that will provide low-income students with the technology they need to succeed.

Microsoft announced at today’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting that they would be extending the company’s Shape the Future program. This particular program has already provided software, hardware, and broadband Internet to 10 million students over the last half decade. The focus of the program has always been attempting to fill in the gap between the technology students have access to at school and that which they have at home. In announcing that they are extending the program for another three years, the company has said it will be covering another one million students in that time period.

Microsoft will be working with organizations such as the FCC, and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) as well as state, county and local governments to bring the right technology to students in need. That technology will include Microsoft Windows based PCs that are optimized for students, broadband Internet access, and teaching and education software specially put together by Microsoft and job skills training. The vice president of Worldwide Education for Microsoft, Anthony Salcito said that, "At Microsoft we believe all students should have access to the building blocks of a quality education. Putting technology in the hands of a student who did not have access is a powerful step on the path leading to graduation, employability and a better future."

According to the Federal Reserve, around 9.5 million American students are digitally excluded outside of their school. The high school graduation rates for those students are six to eight times less than students who have Internet access at their home.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Writer

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