R.J. Reynolds Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Technology Initiative
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- A $1 million pledge from the R.J. Reynolds Foundation to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools' K-12 technology initiative, announced today, will help bring the school of the future closer to reality.
``R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company has a century-long history of supporting local education,'' said Andrew J. Schindler, chairman and chief executive officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, in announcing the five-year grant. ``Continuing that tradition is important to us. This technology upgrade program will benefit the whole community for years to come -- students and their parents, teachers, local employers and economic development initiatives.''
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County ``Blueprint for Technology'' initiative will put 11,000 new computers in classrooms, in addition to fiber-optic connections and infrastructure, and provide curriculum software and extensive teacher training.
Funded by a unique collaboration of federal, state and local governments, a local bond referendum, and grants from individuals, foundations and businesses, the new technology program is designed to assure that all county school system graduates will be computer literate and prepared to compete in an increasingly technology-based society, said Dr. David Shellman, Winston- Salem/Forsyth County Schools assistant superintendent for technology. Shellman said that the $38.25 million project, the first of its kind in the country, was developed in 1998 following a study commissioned by the Winston- Salem Chamber of Commerce. The plan is a blueprint to make the Winston- Salem/Forsyth County school system a national leader in using technology in grades K-12 by 2003, to ensure that the county's schools provide the best education for the future.
``This project will replace sub-standard computer hardware and software, provide equal access to cutting-edge technology across all the schools in the system, enable online parent-teacher conferences, link students to college and university resources, and equip the next generation to join a workforce that demands computer technology skills,'' said Shellman.
``We hope that the announcement of the R.J. Reynolds Foundation pledge will help more members of the community become aware of the far-reaching and beneficial impact that The Blueprint for Technology will have on Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and the students who attend public schools here,'' Shellman continued. ``We are very grateful to the RJR Foundation for their million- dollar vote of confidence in our schools and our students.''
According to Shellman, the current ratio of students per computer is 7-to- 1, and in some instances as high as 9-to-1. ``Our goal is to reduce that ratio to 4-to-1,'' he said. ``And we need to bring the hardware and software up to date as well. What we're saying to the community is, 'Help us get over this hump.'''
RJRT's Schindler pointed to additional economic development benefits of the technology program.
``The quality of the educational resources in a community is of great importance to companies looking to relocate or establish their businesses in our area,'' said Schindler. ``As we work to recruit new technology-based businesses to the Triad, one of the first things they evaluate is whether the local workforce is well-educated and well-trained. With this technology initiative, we will be able to demonstrate that our students are very marketable and technologically savvy.''
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc.. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States, manufacturing about one of every four cigarettes sold in the United States. Reynolds Tobacco's product line includes four of the nation's 10 best-selling cigarette brands: Camel, Winston, Salem and Doral. In December 2000, Reynolds Tobacco was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the ``100 Best Companies to Work For.'' For more information about RJRT, visit the company's web site at www.rjrt.com.