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Updated 11:30 AM October 27, 2003



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Project aims to boost scholastic performance

A $150,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will help fund a project U-M-Flint is helping to implement. The Michigan Virtual University (MVU) project is designed to help families in Flint improve the academic performance of their children through broadband technology.

A wireless network and a Web site will be developed as tools for families and communities to improve their children's educational success.

"I am delighted that U-M-Flint will play a leading role in this creative and empowering project that brings together three critical elements in the education of our children: families, technology and information. This is a good development for the Flint community," says Juan Mestas, chancellor of U-M-Flint.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently announced the Mott Foundation grant. The one-year grant was awarded to MVU to organize a pilot school improvement technology project for approximately 700 students and their parents residing in six affordable housing developments in Flint where schools are not making "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The pilot will start with the Washington Elementary School attendance area and may be expanded to other cities in Michigan where schools have not met the progress criteria of the act.

Low-cost computers, software and Internet access programs will be made available to residents of the local neighborhoods. Technology-savvy young people will be recruited to help teach families lacking computer skills how to use their new high tech tools. Program participation will expand to include others in the affected school neighborhoods as the project develops.

"This project is a perfect triple play," Granholm says. "It helps our children succeed in school, helps parents engage in their children's education, and it was made possible through the creative partnership between the state and our generous foundation community."

The new Web site will help families improve learning experiences for their K-12 children as well as their own daily living concerns and activities. The site will bring together information on such daily living matters as personal finance, family budgeting, health care, childcare, transportation, jobs, housing, legal services and utilities. In addition, learning and school-related resources from state government and other sources will be brought together on the Web site.

U-M-Flint will seek out many partners from the local area. In addition to Michigan State Housing Development Authority, resources will be provided by the Michigan Department of Consumer & Industry Services (soon to be the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth), Michigan Broadband Development Authority, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Michigan Department of Information Technology. A total of $740,000 will support the project.

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