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Houston Habitat for Humanity Connects Low-Income Residents With Vital Technology Resources

December 16, 2006

HOUSTON, Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Houston Habitat for Humanity announced today that it has teamed with AT&T to bring technology resources to 300 low-income Houston families under the three-year, $100 million AT&T AccessAll signature initiative. AT&T AccessAll is the nation’s largest-ever program designed to provide in-home Internet and technology access, benefiting 50,000 low-income families across the country through a unique collaboration with One Economy Corporation, Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other low-income housing providers.

Participating Houston households will receive a subsidized technology package that includes a computer, desktop software, and an in-kind donation of AT&T DSL broadband Internet access. The initiative will also provide families with technology training.

Skilled members of the AT&T Pioneers, which is AT&T’s volunteer organization of employees and retirees, will also provide one-on-one technology instruction. The company-sponsored volunteer organization consists of active and retired employees who perform community outreach projects throughout the country.

“Wiring families to the Internet is so important, especially for low-income households. Broadening families’ horizons through technology is truly priceless,” said state Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston.

“When I was considering the opportunities the gift of technology affords to families, I was struck by how many things in life are easier with access to the Internet,” said state Rep. Alma Allen of Houston.

“We commend Sen. Ellis and Rep. Allen for their leadership in supporting programs that help people of all backgrounds benefit from the opportunities created by technology,” said Jim Epperson, president of AT&T Texas. “AT&T is committed to making affordable technology available to as many homes as possible, and AT&T AccessAll will make a positive impact on underserved communities for many years to come.”

AT&T AccessAll consists of approximately $70 million in grants and contributions from AT&T and the AT&T Foundation and a $30 million in-kind donation of Internet access from AT&T Inc. In the largest initiative announced under the program, nearly half of the funding is being directed through One Economy Corporation to enable affordable technology solutions, including Internet access, to 50,000 low-income single-family and multifamily homes.

One Economy Corporation, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing technology access to low-income families, is working with local Habitat for Humanity affiliates to equip Habitat households with an AT&T Foundation-subsidized technology package which includes a computer, desktop software, and an in-kind donation of Internet access.

“We are thrilled that AT&T and One Economy have joined with Habitat to extend computers and Internet service to the families we work with and to build a bridge across the invisible digital divide,” said Algenita Scott Davis, executive director of Houston Habitat for Humanity.

Other partners who have joined the program to continue in the outreach effort include Dell, Siemens, Intel, and the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps*VISTA).

In-home technology access is especially important for children in school, according to a new U.S. Department of Education report. Limited access can diminish a student’s opportunity to research assignments, explore college scholarships or just get comfortable going online. While the research shows African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians are far less likely to use computers at home, the issue goes beyond racial lines. Thirty- seven percent of those families with incomes below $20,000 use computers at home, compared to 88 percent of those living in families with annual incomes over $75,000.

The approach taken by AT&T AccessAll — combining computer equipment, Internet access, training, and content — has already proved effective in a pilot program conducted by One Economy. Based on a comparison with a national study of Internet users conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, participants in One Economy’s Digital Communities pilot program are:

   -- Using the Internet at nearly twice the rate of other low-income      Americans.   -- Improving job performance, health outcomes, and community connections      through engaging in specific online activities - such as enrolling in      Web-based courses - at rates higher than other low-income Internet      users.   

One Economy serves as the nation’s major connector between low-income people and the telecommunications and technology industries. The organization has acted as a catalyst to create wired and Wi-Fi/wireless solutions around the country for developers, public housing authorities, nonprofits, Native American tribes and municipalities. Its online self-help Web site, theBeehive.org, helps 2 million low-income people a year to connect to the economic mainstream.

Houston Habitat for Humanity is a not-for-profit organization that provides new homes for hard-working, low-income Houstonians who otherwise would not be able to afford a mortgage. The organization provides zero- interest loans to first-time, low-income homebuyers who partner with volunteers and sponsors to build their own homes for families impacted by the 2005 Gulf Coast storms and the 1-in-10 existing working families in Houston who live in substandard housing.

One Economy is a national non-profit organization created to be a catalyst for innovation and change. One Economy helps bring access to technology into the homes of low-income people around the country, using that technology to connect low-income people to thebeehive.org which provides information and tools they can use to build assets and improve their lives. One Economy’s primary market is the 12 million people living in 5.5 million units of government-supported affordable housing across the US. The organization’s secondary market is the 15 million people living in non-government supported affordable housing. Together, these 27 million low-income people represent $250 billion in annual purchasing power, or about 2.5% of the GDP.

The AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc., supports programs that build communities and improve access to information technologies, technology training and professional skills development. The AT&T Foundation will provide more than $60 million in 2006 in charitable contributions, thereby placing it among the top five largest corporate foundations in the country. The AT&T Foundation combines over 40 years and $1.7 billion of philanthropic commitment to communities across the country.

AT&T Inc. is one of the world’s largest telecommunications holding companies and is the largest in the United States. Operating globally under the AT&T brand, AT&T companies are recognized as the leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services to business and as leading U.S. providers of high speed DSL Internet, local and long distance voice, and directory publishing and advertising services. AT&T Inc. holds a 60 percent ownership interest in Cingular Wireless, which is the No. 1 U.S. wireless services provider with 58.7 million wireless customers. Additional information about AT&T Inc. and AT&T products and services is available at http://www.att.com/.

Austin Habitat for Humanity

CONTACT: Ellen Efsic for Houston Habitat for Humanity, +1-713-671-9993ext. 35, mobile: +1-713-203-6531; or Dan Feldstein for AT&T, +1-713-513-9507,mobile: +1-713-419-3022

Web site: http://www.austinhabitat.org/http://thebeehive.org/http://www.att.com/




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