LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced it is providing the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools with a more than $1 million grant to purchase new software and hardware for the two schools at the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center. This grant will help bring state-of-the-art technology to the campus, helping bridge the technology gap of this underserved community. The grant also includes a $50,000 cash donation portion that will provide for ongoing technical support, teacher and student training, curriculum, and mentoring opportunities for students to learn about and explore careers. The goal is to create an instructional model that can be replicated and scaled throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District and elevate teacher and student technology skills, thereby preparing youth for the competitive Los Angeles and U.S. job market. Microsoft education executives and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the sizeable donation this morning at a press conference at Mendez, where city leaders, school leaders, teachers and students saw a preview of the new software and technology.
"Access to technology and the ability to harness it as a learning tool is critical to academic and career success in the 21st-century job market," Villaraigosa said. "This generous grant from Microsoft will give students a leg up when it comes to completing their coursework, enriching their academic experience and learning concrete job skills. Microsoft cannot be thanked enough for their generous donation."
The two Mendez schools — the school of Engineering & Technology and the school of Math & Science — are part of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the nonprofit school management organization created by Mayor Villaraigosa and the school district with the purpose of turning around Los Angeles' lowest-performing schools and incubating new education models and change that can serve as models for school transformations. The Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center's two high schools serve about 1,000 students on a shared campus in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles.
"We believe students can do amazing things when they have access to the right technology, tools and training that will help them build 21st-century skills to prepare them to be college- and career-ready," said Anthony Salcito, vice president of Worldwide Education, Microsoft Corp. "It is our hope that we can inspire the next generation of leaders to see the opportunity to compete for better jobs and improve their economic status by pursuing interests and careers in science, technology, engineering and math."
Microsoft believes it is a basic right, and a social and work-force imperative, to ensure that every child receives a high-quality education. Microsoft is committed to partnering with schools, education leaders, governments and communities to help transform how technology is applied in the teaching and learning process to drive student success. The Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center will have access to the following tools to be integrated throughout the academic environment:
New software for all 420 computers on campus, including Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Math and Microsoft Publisher, will help ensure students are learning with the software they will encounter in the workplace.
Microsoft Visual Studio will aid computer science teachers and classes, and Microsoft Expression Web will expand the capabilities in all art, design and computer classes, and help teach Web and graphic design.
New hardware such as seven new laptops for teachers, and three Smart Boards and seven Mimeo equipment packages, will create 10 new SMART classrooms. A membership in the Microsoft IT Academy will offer comprehensive IT training, resources and Microsoft certification opportunities to enhance employability.
Student mentoring opportunities will focus on career exploration with activities such as DigiGirlz, which drives female students to explore careers in business and technology, participation in Mendez's Career Day, and numerous other volunteer interactions.
Ongoing teacher training and tech mentoring will be provided from Microsoft teams and individual Microsoft employees.
"This is a profound gift for the children at the Mendez Learning Center. It will make a difference in their lives in so many ways," said Marshall Tuck, chief executive officer of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. "We will use the Microsoft technology and support in many ways, including creating virtual science demonstrations and labs, new smart classrooms for math and science offerings, and new electives that integrate the latest software. This gift will give our students the skills and knowledge they need to compete and thrive in today's technology-driven world."
About Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools was founded in 2007 as the cornerstone of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's strategy to improve education in Los Angeles. It is a unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District to turnaround LA's lowest performing schools and to create a model for doing so district wide. The largest non-district school operator in Los Angeles, the Partnership today manages 21 schools with approximately 20,000 students and 1500 employees. The Partnership is a 501(c) 3 non-profit education management organization with nearly 30 employees.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.