IBM Announces Early Education Grants

An IBM news release has announced the company’s pledge to offer $1.3 million in grants to states with innovative early education programs. The initiative builds on the company’s KidSmart Early Learning grant program and will fund schools in the five states that received federal “Race to the Top” grants.

Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Rhode Island were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education’s early learning challenge competitive grant program which recognized and rewards innovation in that area. IBM is following up the government funding with grants of their own over the next three years.

The grants will include KidSmart Young Explorer computer centers (read more about this project in preschool settings) which will be set up with IBM’s Reading Companion software, which is designed to assist children as they learn to read. It’s an adaptive learning platform that is able to listen to readers and provide feedback.  (Quick note here: The best way to learn how to read is by person-to-person interaction, but a little technology along the way certainly can’t hurt.)

Kids using IBM’s Young Explorer computer center

“With the right hands-on instruction, the use of technology to engage and enhance young children’s learning experiences can make a lifelong impact,” said Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children and Technology. “IBM is providing such technology and related services to states that have earned Race to the Top funding. No doubt these states, given their visionary approach to technology and education, will put these resources from IBM to good use as they strive to prepare children for a lifetime of learning and accomplishment.”

According to the news release, since the beginning of IBM’s KidSmart Early Learning Program, the company has invested more than $133 million, donated more than 70,000 Young Explorer computers to schools and nonprofit organizations in 60 countries and has reached more than 105,000 teachers and more than 10 million students.