Students empowered with computers

The charitable organization intends to distribute 6,000 to 7,000 refurbished computers to all households with children in a south Dallas school district, according to the foundation's executive director, Jon Edmonds. The only requirement: Parents must attend a class on basic computer operation.

The students reside in Fair Park, one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Dallas. Per capita income there hovers around $7,000.

"We're trying to change the culture about how computers and technology are thought about in this particular urban setting," Edmonds said. The goal is that by increasing access to information technology, youngsters will be motivated to hone their technical skills.

FCE serves as a managing partner of the Dallas Area Technology Alliance (DATA), which is made up of organizations and individuals working to close the gap between the technology haves and have-nots by providing training, computer hardware and software, mentorships and jobs to citizens in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Dallas.

In addition to the computer giveaway, the alliance is building neighborhood Cyber Centers where children can use more-sophisticated technology. The centers will host Web design and other types of competitions.

The alliance also sponsors WhizKidz, an in-school program designed to help students polish their skills for college and the workforce. Staffed by young professionals and high-achieving student volunteers, WhizKidz aims to make computer training as hip as possible, Edmonds said.

DATA enables corporations to funnel their giving through one organization and to target specific areas of need, said Ellen Carter, program manager for education at FCE.

The foundation receives used computers for its programs from corporations and buys previously leased units from Dell Computer Corp. at drastically reduced prices, Edmonds said.

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