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AOL Time Warner, Dell Bridge Digital Divide with Habitat

AOL Time Warner, Dell Bridge Digital Divide with Habitat

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., June 12— Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County will launch the Digital Bridge Initiative today when new Habitat homeowner Mary Brunson and her family surf the Internet at home for the first time. The $1 million partnership between Habitat for Humanity and AOL Time Warner is bridging the digital divide by providing computers, Internet access and training to Habitat homeowners, creating opportunities for low-income families to enhance educational performance and professional skills.

“The vision of the Habitat for Humanity Digital Bridge Initiative is to showcase the extraordinary power of computers and the Internet in the nation’s low-income homes,” said Kay Lord, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County. “It is our goal to parlay the $1 million Forsyth County pilot project of 200 computers into a national rollout, which would provide every Habitat home beginning in 2005 with a computer, printer, software, tailored technical assistance and Internet access.”

AOL Time Warner is facilitating a national rollout of the HFH Forsyth County $1 million pilot partnership, along with its America Online division. Since 2000 Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County has been providing computers, Internet access and training to 32 low-income homeowners through its partnership with HATCH, an early childhood technology company based in Winston-Salem. HATCH will continue to spearhead the program by providing an additional 75 computers, printers, equipment and technical support to new and future Habitat homeowners in Forsyth County. Dell computers will be placed in the 100 Habitat houses built prior to 2000. AOL will provide Internet access for 200 families for two years and will fund a comprehensive two-year research study by Wake Forest University to evaluate the benefits of computer access for low-income families.

Habitat for Humanity is an ideal vehicle for a digital bridge program that could positively impact the disparities between technological proficiency and economic status. Habitat’s 1600 national affiliates build more than 5,000 houses a year. The nonprofit homebuilder is the premiere builder of houses for families that earn between 25-50% of median income.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 2,000 communities in 83 nations have built and sold more than 120,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.