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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release April 4, 2000
                             April 4, 2000

President Clinton Will Announce Today That Over 400 Companies And Non-Profit Organizations Have Signed A "National Call To Action" To Bring Digital Opportunity To Youth, Families And Communities. The President will be joined by the Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Senator Barbara Mikulski and Julian Lacey, a longtime volunteer at Plugged In, a Community Technology Center in East Palo Alto, California. He will announce his "National Call to Action" to help bring digital opportunity to youth, families and communities around the country. Over 400 companies and non-profit organizations have agreed to sign this Call to Action.

President Clinton's "National Call To Action." President Clinton has issued a "National Call to Action" to challenge corporations and non-profit organizations to take concrete steps to meet two critical goals:

The President Will Announce Several Initiatives To Help Bring Digital Opportunity To All Americans. The President will announce the following initiatives that demonstrate a real commitment by the public and private sectors to work together to bridge the digital divide:

President Clinton Will Also Announce His Third New Markets Tour - From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity. On April 17-18, President Clinton, accompanied by CEOs, Members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries and community leaders will focus national attention on initiatives aimed at overcoming the digital divide and creating opportunities for youth, families and communities. The President will travel to East Palo Alto, California; the Navajo Nation in Shiprock, New Mexico; and Chicago, Illinois to highlight private and public-sector initiatives to help bring digital opportunity to all Americans. Later this month, the President will travel to rural North Carolina to stress the importance of expanding rural access to the emerging broadband Internet.


Access to computers and the Internet and the ability to effectively use this technology are becoming increasingly important for full participation in America's economic, political and social life. People are using the Internet to find lower prices for goods and services, work from home or start their own business, acquire new skills using distance learning, and make better informed decisions about their healthcare needs. The ability to use technology is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, and jobs in the rapidly growing information technology sector pay almost 80 percent more than the average private sector wage.

Technology, used creatively, can also make a big difference in the way teachers teach and students learn. In some classrooms, teachers are using the Internet to keep up with the latest developments in their field, exchange lesson plans with their colleagues, and communicate more frequently with parents. Students are able to log on to the Library of Congress to download primary documents for a history paper, explore the universe with an Internet-connected telescope used by professional astronomers, and engage in more active "learning by doing." Students are also creating powerful Internet-based learning resources that can be used by other students -- such as award-winning Web sites on endangered species, the biology of sleep, human perception of sound, and an exploration of the American judicial system.

Access to computers and the Internet has exploded during the Clinton-Gore Administration. Unfortunately, there is strong evidence of a "digital divide" -- a gap between those individuals and communities that have access to these Information Age tools and those who don't. A July 1999 report from the Department of Commerce, based on December 1998 Census Department data, revealed that:

In addition, data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals a 'digital divide' in our nation's schools. As of the fall of 1998, 39 percent of classrooms of poor schools were connected to the Internet, as compared to 74 percent in wealthier schools.