America Online, Inc. and The FamilyEducation Company to Launch Major Strategic Partnership

April 30, 1998

Exclusive Agreement Will Involve AOL Members in Nationwide Parental Involvement Initiative Partnership Underscores AOL's Commitment to Using Interactive Medium to Build Educational Communities DULLES, VA and BOSTON, MA, April 30, 1998 - America Online, Inc. and the FamilyEducation Company, a leading developer of education services and resources, today announced that they have entered into an unprecedented long-term strategic partnership to accelerate the development of an interactive network of extended school communities that link parents and teachers. The partnership between AOL and the FamilyEducation Company will allow the nation's largest Internet online service and the leading creator of school Web sites to bring more parents, students, teachers and administrators together. It also extends AOL's long-standing commitment to using the interactive medium on behalf of children and to improve education by providing the principal link between home and school. The partnership combines FamilyEducation Company's knowledge of schools' needs and relationships with organizations in the private, non-profit and public sectors with America Online's long experience in building communities online. Through its FamilyEducation Network (FEN), the FamilyEducation Company offers schools free customized Web sites to create a home-school connection, creating online communities to support parent-teacher communications, group discussions of school policies and programs, updates on school activities, schedules and lunch menus and other convenient and time-saving uses. FEN also provides parents and teaching professionals with online educational resources on its Web site which has been rated the nation's #1 family Web site by parents (Family PC, 1997). In just 12 months, 337 school districts -- representing a total of 2,855 schools -- have signed onto the FamilyEducation Network's initiative. "AOL is committed to using the tremendous potential of the interactive medium to build strong educational communities," said Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of America Online. "AOL will combine its expertise in building online communities with FEN's unparalleled ties to the world of education to forge greater opportunities for parents, students, teachers and schools to create stronger education communities. But the biggest beneficiaries of this partnership will be children because studies show that the most critical ingredient in a child's success in school is parental involvement. "It's time to shift the education focus in this country from wiring schools by connecting computers to engaging parents by building home-to-school communities," Case continued. "Parents can move beyond teacher communication that has previously been limited to notes pinned on a child's coat or traded phone messages. With FEN, time-starved parents can easily establish dialogues with teachers about their children's progress, needs and achievements that last throughout the school year." The partnership includes an investment by AOL in the FamilyEducation Company. In addition, the FamilyEducation Network will become an anchor tenant within AOL's Research & Learn and its Families channels under a four-year exclusive carriage agreement. AOL will support the FEN initiative and its school Web sites through online promotion and a local parental awareness campaign designed to involve AOL members in this nationwide effort. In addition, each school participating in the FamilyEducation Network will be assigned an AOL Keyword that will allow AOL users to navigate directly to a specific school's site. Bob Pittman, President and COO of America Online, said: "This partnership is a critical part of our educational strategy because FEN has developed the outstanding model for using interactivity to build extended school communities. We are proud to become a major investor in the FamilyEducation Company and contribute our experience and skill in building community-based services to FEN's public/private partnership." FamilyEducation Network Cofounder and President Jonathan Carson said, "As we enter into a knowledge-based 21st century, education will be an increasingly important part of our society. We are thrilled to be working together with the world's leading Internet online company, America Online, and are pleased that their commitment to families and education is as strong as our own. There are 30 million households with children, 28,000 PTA chapters, and 100,000 schools - this partnership will connect them all together." FEN began building its local school network in 1997 and to date has rolled out its network in school districts in four states: Arizona, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey. Governor Parris N. Glendening, of Maryland, whose state was the first to adopt FEN's cutting-edge approach to parental involvement at the school district level, said: "We are proud that Maryland was the first state to respond to President Clinton's Call to Action for American Education. We were, in fact, the first state to sign on with both the President's initiative and FamilyEducation Network's state rollouts. I believe that family involvement is key to student success and am proud that FamilyEducation Network chose Maryland to showcase this educational model. Through the most up-to-date technology, their user-friendly system provides a much-needed link tying our schools with the local community." Governor John Engler of Michigan whose state has also tapped FEN in some of its school districts said: "It's vitally important for schools and parents to work in concert. A prime example of this is the way in which the Novi Public Schools, here in Michigan, are using the Family Education Network to communicate with the student's home. One of the things that most impressed me about FEN was its dissemination of 'best practices.' Moreover, FEN's alliance with key education groups provides a terrific example of how the private sector can build successful partnerships to help solve problems like increasing parental involvement in their children's education. Joining forces with AOL will strengthen this initiative and increase the ties between Michigan's schools and families." FEN has built a unique public/private alliance with the leading grass roots education organizations including the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the National PTA, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Through private-sector partners like AT&T Learning Network, Fleet and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, the company provides its program at no cost to school districts. FEN's nationally recognized partners, such as Amazon.com, Education Week and KIDSNET, add to the company's online community and content. AOL's other educational initiatives include: AOL@School, which offers special $9.95 pricing for unlimited daytime school use of AOL; education grant initiatives by the AOL Foundation; computer donations to disadvantaged schools; thousands of free AOL accounts to schools; significant partnerships with America's Promise, Special Olympics, Read to Succeed and other children-focused organizations; and leadership in major industry-wide initiatives like last December's Internet Online Summit on Children.

Contact Info: