At the annual meeting of governors representing the Southern Growth Policies Board, ConnectKentucky’s No Child Left Offline initiative was recognized from an applicant pool of 200 with the 2006 Southern Growth Policies Board Innovator Award.
“Kentuckians must dream big and plan not only for ways to compete in the knowledge-based economy, but for ways to excel."
- Gov. Ernie Fletcher
“Kentuckians must dream big and plan not only for ways to compete in the knowledge-based economy, but for ways to excel,” said Gov. Ernie Fletcher. “As ConnectKentucky works with local leaders to implement the Prescription for Innovation, we envision that not only will Kentucky provide world-class technology for its citizens and businesses, but that individuals and companies around the globe will come to recognize Kentucky as a center for technological and economic prosperity.”
No Child Left Offline brings together public and private partners to bridge the gap for the 215,000 children in Kentucky who do not own a home computer. The initiative is the most comprehensive of its kind undertaken by any state in the nation, and ensures that thousands of usable computers are saved from landfills and used for the benefit of Kentucky families.
Each year, the Southern Growth Policies Board honors innovative Southern initiatives that are improving the quality of life in the region. Southern Growth Policies Board is a nonpartisan public policy group formed by the region's governors in 1971.
Launched in January 2006 by Gov. Fletcher as part of Kentucky’s Prescription for Innovation, No Child Left Offline has set a precedent for delivering quality technology hardware and software to Kentucky families who need it most. Through the program, surplus government computers are refurbished and distributed to the homes of eighth graders who otherwise would not have a computer at home. For each computer refurbished, Microsoft™ is providing Windows XP™ and MS Office 2003™ while CA, Inc. provides a software security suite. Additionally, Lexmark International is providing a new ink jet printer for every family that receives a computer.
Kentucky's Prescription for Innovation is a comprehensive plan to accelerate technology growth, particularly in the areas of broadband deployment and technology literacy and usage. The initiative maintains four key tenets for impacting statewide economic development:
- Full broadband deployment by the end of 2007;
- Dramatically improved use of computers and the Internet by all Kentuckians;
- A meaningful online presence for all Kentucky communities, to improve citizen services and promote economic development through e-government, virtual education, online healthcare; and
- Local technology leadership teams in every community to develop and implement technology growth strategies for local government, business and industry, education, healthcare, agriculture, libraries, tourism and community-based organizations.
Over the course of implementation of the Prescription for Innovation, statewide broadband availability and usage have increased by 33 percent and 45 percent respectively. An estimated 300,000 previously unserved households may now access broadband as private sector investment in telecommunications infrastructure has reached an unprecedented level in Kentucky. Currently, 82 percent of Kentucky homes may access broadband, which is a good indication that Gov. Fletcher's goal of 100 percent availablilty by 2007 will be met. Home computer ownership has grown by 17 percent and more than 100 counties are actively engaged in the eCommunity leadership process to establish a nine sector technology growth plan for accelerating technology locally. Moreover, the rate of Kentucky’s high-tech job growth is outpacing the national average.
ConnectKentucky, a nonprofit organization that promotes technology-based economic development in the commonwealth, is coordinating the project with operational support from the Governor’s Office for Local Development, Appalachian Regional Commission and the Department for Commercialization and Innovation in the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. Additional state support is provided by the Commonwealth Office of Technology and the Office of Surplus Properties, both in the Finance Cabinet, Kentucky Department of Education in the Education Cabinet and Kentucky Correctional Industries in the Justice Cabinet.
In initial distributions, which have been concentrated in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, No Child Left Offline has delivered nearly 1,000 refurbished computers and new Lexmark printers to the homes of selected eighth-grade students. Two thousand computers are set to be delivered by the end of 2006.
About ConnectKentucky: Recently named as the nation’s top innovator in economic development by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, ConnectKentucky is leading the way into a new economy for Kentuckians. As an independent, technology-based economic development organization, ConnectKentucky works with businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the commonwealth. For more information, visit www.connectkentucky.org.
To learn more about the Southern Growth Policies Board and view their 2006 Annual Report: Innovation with a Southern Accent, visit www.southern.org/pubs/2006AnnualReport/Innovationlowres.pdf.