New York Daily News
Plugging into the future
BY BILL EGBERT
NEWS STAFF WRITER
Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
Sen. Hillary Clinton, in a push to get outer-borough kids "just as connected to the world as somebody in the center of Manhattan," yesterday announced a $1 billion initiative to bring broadband Internet access to lowincome families.
Clinton (D-N.Y.) was joined by former White House colleague Robert Rubin, who served as her husband's treasury secretary and now heads Local Initiatives Support Corp. The corporation is spearheading the nationwide initiative along with One Economy, a nonprofit technology company.
The access@home project aims to build 15,000 units of affordable housing wired for high-speed Internet across the city and nation over the next five years.
A low-income child is eight times less likely to use a computer at home than one from a middle-income family, and Clinton warned that leaving so many young people cut off from computers and the Internet will hurt the nation's economic competitiveness.
"If we don't make sure to connect all of our children to the world," she said, "we will fall behind it."
The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 95% of all new jobs will require significant computer skills.
Nearly all Fortune 500 companies accepted job applications through their Web sites in 2003, and one-third of them offered no other means to apply.
The point of access@home is not simply to plug low-income households into the Internet, but to help families take full advantage of the technology.
"It's not enough just to wire the home," said Clinton. "There will be a lot of followup."
The program also will provide families with vouchers for discounted computers, free broadband for five years, technical support, computer training and even home visits.
Families also will automatically be registered on One Economy's educational Web site, www.thebeehive.org, which offers health-care advice, help with school and money management, and even advice on starting your own business - using the Internet, of course.
Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, made the case for government support of universal broadband initiatives.
He recalled when his parents brought home a set of encyclopedias when he was a child, telling him, "This is your ticket to the future." But today, he said, the world is more complex.
"Instead of the traditional encyclopedia or classroom, the vehicles for advancement are a computer and high-speed digital Internet access."
For further information, call LISC at (212) 455-9800 or go to www.lisc.org.