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Monday, April 17, 2000


"Unlike the railroads of the Industrial Age, the trade routes of the Information Age can run through every city, every town, every community. We can use new technology to extend opportunity to more Americans than ever before; we can truly move more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever before. No one has to be bypassed this time around."

President Bill Clinton
Monday, April 17, 2000

Today, in East Palo Alto, California, President Clinton kicked off his third New Markets trip by highlighting the importance of giving all young people the opportunity and motivation to develop information technology skills that will enable them to compete for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the 21st century. The President announced over $100 million in several private- and public-sector commitments to bring digital opportunity to underserved youth, family, and communities, and participated in a roundtable discussion with corporate and community leaders on the importance of closing the digital divide. The President also visited Shiprock, New Mexico, where he spoke to the Navajo Nation on how access to technology can lead to education and economic opportunities for Native Americans, and participated in an Internet video conference with students from remote schools within the Navajo Nation.

NEW MARKETS TOUR HIGHLIGHTS COMMUNITIES CAUGHT ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE DIGITAL DIVIDE. While the number of Americans accessing the Internet has grown rapidly in recent years, there remains a gap between those communities that have access to computers and the Internet and those who don't. Today, President Clinton highlighted two communities which have not fully shared in the nation's digital revolution:

  • Although it is in the heart of Silicon Valley, East Palo Alto has not shared in the region's economic expansion. The city has a relatively high poverty rate and the largest high school dropout rate in the Bay Area. Over 80 percent of its K-8 students are eligible for the free and reduced-price lunch program, and its schools have a 28 to 1 student/computer ratio, limiting the ability of teachers to use technology in the classroom.
  • The Navajo Nation, the largest Indian reservation in the U.S., ranks far below the national average in its access to telephones, computers, and the Internet. Half of its workforce is unemployed, its high-school dropout rate averages 20 percent for 9th graders, and only one quarter of the Navajo adult population has graduated from high school. Nearly one-third of Native Americans live in poverty.

ANNOUNCING NEW PARTNERSHIPS TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE. In East Palo Alto, President Clinton announced over $100 million in public- and private-sector commitments to bring digital opportunity to underserved communities, families and youth:

  • The Kaiser Family Foundation and Black Entertainment Television will air media campaigns to motivate young people and African Americans to "get connected."
  • Gateway will provide technology training for 75,000 teachers, including those in East Palo Alto; and
  • PowerUP will expand 250 technology centers for underserved youth across the country, with major support from AOL, which will provide 100,000 free accounts valued at $26 million annually.

In Shiprock, the President unveiled several technology initiatives aimed at bringing economic opportunity to Native Americans:

  • The FCC will provide telephone access to Native American communities for $1 per month;
  • Microsoft Corporation pledged $2.75 million in new grants to the American Indian Tribal College Program; and
  • Tachyon, Inc. will provide 500 Navajo Nation students with satellite Internet access.

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