Gates Foundation Plans to Boost Education with $20 Million Fund

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Aiming to improve America's education system, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Monday, Oct. 11 an initiative to help college students succeed with technology.

As reported by the New York Times,
the $20 million fund is being targeted to community colleges in order to boost college graduation rates among low-income and minority students.

“We’re living in a tremendous age of innovation. We should harness new technologies and innovation to help all students get the education they need to succeed,” Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Gates Foundation, said.

The initiative is called the 'Next Generation Learning Challenges' and it will provide financial grants for organizations and entrepreneurs to develop efficient online learning tools.

With a total fund of $20 million, grants will range from $250,000 to $750,000 for those applicants with top-rated proposals. Furthermore, the program will also allow current successful educational programs to expand and affect much larger groups of students.

The 'Next Generation Learning Challenges' program aims to incite the use of interactive applications like virtual simulations, interactive video and social media, thus, reinforcing students’ learning.

This program would also support the availability of OpenCourseWare, free and open digital publications of university-level educational material that can benefit students and professors as well.

Organizations supporting the initiative include: the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, EDUCASE, and other three nonprofit organizations; all with expertise in educational leadership and management.

As current and coming generations of college students experience constant technological changes, I believe initiatives like these are the best approach not only to improve education but also enhance society with more high-skilled individuals.


Twitter connects Obama to youth

On October 14th, President Obama took action to reach out to the young people  by holding a live, interactive, commercial-free discussion on MTVBET, CMT, and others.  

The discussion was open to 225 young people in the audience and anyone with a Twitter account.

By using the hastags #mygreatesthope and #mygreatestfear, all users able to voice their hopes and fears to the president.

Many concerns were addressed at the chat. Some of which included: violence in schools, legal immigration, crime among young people, increasing the rates of black men and women in college, and fears of America turning into a communist country.

Obama answered each concern individually, enforcing the idea of unity by saying, "We're all Americans. We all want the best for this country. We may have some disagreements in terms of how to get there, but all of us want to make sure our economy is strong, the jobs are growing..."

Politically speaking, this type of discussion can enforce a sense of unity among the youth for the future. Obama is known for reaching out to the young people. He is putting forth effort to get the youth involved with issues of their nation by using Twitter and MTV (popular mediums) as means to connect.

Other media platforms that were used included,, and where the chats were streamed live. Not only was media used to help viewers interact with Obama, but the discussion could be viewed by way of television or Internet, which increased viewer ratings.

These forms of media should  be attributed to the unity of the nation because only a select number of individuals would have been able to contribute to the conversation without them. By using Twitter to help viewers interact, the opinions of all young people were heard and addressed.

There is much thanks to be given to technology and media for opportunities like this to be made possible.

To view a clip from the discussion, visit


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