DULLES, Virginia, September 14, 1998 - The AOL Foundation, America Online's philanthropic organization, today announced that 54 teams of educators throughout the country will receive grants of up to $7,500 each during the coming school year under the Interactive Education Initiative (IEI), a new grant program designed to encourage innovative use of technology in K-12 learning environments. Grant recipients also will receive technical assistance and free AOL accounts from the Foundation. Additionally, the Foundation will create an online network to enable grant recipients to share information on their projects, seek technical or curricular assistance and gain access to teacher- and parent-friendly resources on the Web. The long-term goals of this initiative are to support interactive learning models that can be replicated by other schools and communities, and to produce an ever-expanding network of educators and others dedicated to promoting effective uses of interactive technology. "The Interactive Education Initiative provides seed money for educational innovation," said Jim Kimsey, chairman of the AOL Foundation. "Tremendous resources have been spent to get interactive technology into schools, but there is still much to be done in exploring how to use this technology most effectively to enhance student learning. Today, with the announcement of these 54 grants, the AOL Foundation starts to turn creative ideas into reality - providing resources for teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and others who want to develop hands-on educational models that put interactive technology to work for K-12 students." Teams in 44 states submitted more than 600 grant proposals for the 1998-1999 school year. Grants were awarded in 23 states to large metropolitan areas such as San Francisco and Philadelphia and small, rural communities such as Fort Valley, Georgia and Walters, Oklahoma. Winning proposals will explore innovative uses of technology in the classroom, including: AOL Foundation Announces IEI Grants Creating an online multilingual library with books authored by children around the world; Pairing teens with senior citizens to develop a Web site focusing on the long term impact of life choices made during adolescence; Creating a permanent record of a community's experience with the Civil Rights Movement that will be linked to a school Web site; and Pairing at-risk students with university faculty and students to research and construct projects featured in an online science fair. Other winning proposals feature ideas such as: teaching children about food and hunger issues around the world by using technology to gather data and conduct research, and using the Internet to improve students' understanding of a watershed project in an effort to foster responsible environmental behavior. Nearly 100 AOL employee volunteers assisted in the first stage of the proposal review process. A panel comprised of AOL Foundation Board members and outside experts with a national perspective on innovation in technology and education made the final selection. Criteria included the project's potential impact on classroom curriculum and instruction techniques, the level of innovation, the project's ability to reach economically disadvantaged children and communities, and the potential to be a model for other schools and communities to adapt.