10 U.S. cities to share $1 million for efforts to bridge digital divide

Ten U.S. cities learned last week that they had won awards in the first phase of 3Com Corp.'s Urban Challenge program, which provides a total of $1 million in networking equipment and consulting services to help bridge the digital divide.

The networking solutions company, based in Santa Clara, Calif., announced the winners at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C. The company also announced that it would extend the program, awarding an additional $1 million to 10 more cities. Applications for the next round are due by April 15, and the winners will be announced in the summer.

The Urban Challenge program helps mayors narrow the digital divide between a city's technology "haves" and "have-nots" by fostering partnerships between public officials and private companies to enable underprivileged groups to gain access to educational and health care technology resources.

The 3Com program is considered a national model for helping to bridge the divide, said Gregory Rhode, the Clinton Administration's point man on the issue and the administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the U.S. Commerce Department.

"Urban Challenge is an excellent model to build from, as public officials work with the private sector to insure that all citizens gain access to the essential tools of the Information Age," Rohde said.

The winning cities are Baltimore; Charleston, S.C.; Chester, Pa.; Denver; Glasgow, Ky.; Madison, Wis.; New Orleans; Pontiac, Mi.; Chaska, Minn.; and Providence, R.I.

"Technology is permeating every single thing we do," said New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial. "And to the extent that we can better expose our young people to all the different ways that technology can be used, not just for video games or toys, we're planning for the future."

Applications and more information about the Urban Challenge program is available online at www.3com.com/urbanchallenge.

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