July 30, 2008

Local Boys and Girls Club Receives Computers Via AT&T Grant

By Ida Brown, The Meridian Star, Miss.

Jul. 30--Browsing on the Internet is as common as talking on the telephone for most young people these days. However, not all have access to a computer.

"I use the Internet a lot to do research for school," said Deidre Fears, a recent Meridian High School graduate who will begin studies in neonatal nursing at Meridian Community College this fall.

Unfortunately, Fears does not have a computer at home. However, thanks to a recent $25,000 donation to the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi where she is a member, she will have free access to what is commonly known as the information highway.

The donation was made possible through the AT&T Excelerator competitive technology grant program of the AT&T Foundation -- the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc.

"At AT&T we're proud to have the opportunity to be supportive of nonprofit organizations such as Boys and Girls Club through the utilization of technology grants," said C.D. Smith, AT&T regional manager.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to connect the Boys and Girls Club to technology, which is so important to today's environment," Smith said.

The funds were used to set up a computer lab for the local Boys and Girls Club.

Executive Director Ricky Hood expressed appreciation to AT&T for its recognition of a portion of the community without access to technology.

"What better way to do get that technology to kids in that community than through the largest youth service organization in this area -- the Boys and Girls Club," Hood said.

"In turn, what that does is enables these children to be more competitive in school. And also as they go out into the job market they have been exposed to it away from school because they are limited as to how much access they have to technology because the majority of these kids don't have computers at home," he said. "By having them at the club, this gives them the opportunity to use the computer to complete school assignments, and just go on the Internet and discover and broaden their horizons."

Fears, who was recently named Mississippi's Youth of the Year for Boys and Girls Clubs, said the contribution is a great benefit to many of the center's youth.

"This is a really good thing for those of us (Boys and Girls Club members) who don't have computers at home," said Fears.

Since 2002, the AT&T Excelerator program has provided more than 2,500 technology grants -- totaling more than $47.8 million -- to organizations across the country. In 2007, 15 nonprofit organizations in Mississippi benefitted from more than $250,000 through the competitive program.


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