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WSU to Administer Gates Foundation’s Community Tech. Program

SEATTLE, Wash. — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that Washington State University Extension’s Center to Bridge the Digital Divide will now administer its Community Access to Technology program. Transfer of the program will provide long-term sustainability for community technology initiatives in Washington and create a statewide network of community technology organizations. The shift represents the successful completion of foundation-led grants through CAT and a new era of partnerships to ensure that communities across the state benefit from advances in technology.

The foundation launched the CAT program in 1999 to help Washington non-profit organizations provide local communities greater access to digital technology. The focus of the CAT program has been on supporting organizations that help at-risk youth, persons with disabilities, immigrant populations and others to use technology to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities.

Over the past five years, the foundation has granted $14 million to Washington state non-profit organizations through its CAT program.

The program will now be known as Communities Connect, to emphasize the efforts to bring together community technology interests from across the state.

“This program’s shift to WSU represents an important milestone in the Gates Foundation’s efforts to promote meaningful technology access to all residents of Washington,” said Ken Thompson, program officer from the foundation. “The CBDD is uniquely equipped to evolve this program from a private grant making initiative to a self-sustaining network for community-based technology in Washington.”

“The CBDD was established to create partnerships and provide educational outreach to expand technology access for under served populations in our state,” said Bill Gillis, the center’s director. “We’re grateful to the Gates Foundation for providing our state with more than $14 million in targeted grants for non-profit organizations to expand technology resources for their communities. Our collective challenge now is to build on this heritage of private giving and create a sustainable network of community partners for this state in the years and decades to come.”

Communities Connect will award up to $3 million in multi-year grants in 2005. This will be the final round of community technology grants made through foundation support.

The CBDD will announce granting guidelines later this month. Information about the program and guidelines for applying for funding can be found at http://www.communitiesconnect.org/.

The WSU Extension Center to Bridge the Digital Divide facilitates collaborative partnerships and provides educational outreach within Washington state, the United States and selected international regions. The CBDD also conducts research and provides policy guidance resulting in expanded application of telecommunications and information technologies among under served populations to achieve desired goals. More information about the CBDD can be found at http://cbdd.wsu.edu/. Bill Gillis can be contacted at 509-335-7038.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to promote greater equity in four areas: global health, education, public libraries and support for at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon. The Seattle-based foundation joins local, national and international partners to ensure that advances in these areas reach those who need them most. The foundation is led by Bill Gates’ father, William H. Gates Sr., and Patty Stonesifer.

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Media Contacts

Kara Palmer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 206-709-3400