Plugging in – D.C. leaders urged to help wire poor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A conference of area leaders has called for new programs to give poor families in the region greater access to the Internet, The Washington Post reports.

Targets chosen by a conference of 150 leaders include increased financial support for teachers, closer research links bwteen universities and business, more opportunities for entrepreneurs across social and racial lines, increased use of telecommuting to reduce traffic congrestion, and greater access to technology for all income groups.

The Potomac Conference, held at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland, included top business and foundation executives, educators and government officials.

The gap between between people in the region with access to technology and those without it is worse than in other tech centers throughout the U.S. said John Tydings, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, which sponsored the conference.

Participants were asked to commit time, money and other resources into specific projects to advance goals selected by the conference, the Post reports.

For example, several business executives will establish a “social venture fund” that will provide money and tech assistance to community groups tackling poverty and education challenges.

The newspaper also reports that people who have made millions from high-technology ventures should invest in the region’s poorest neighborhoods.

More than ever, economic opportunity depends on education and job skills, says the report by the Morino Institute, and greater investments in poor areas will reduce the odds against poor children.

An investment of $6,000 per child in early childhood programs returns several times that amount if the child becomes an educated, self-supporting adult, the report says.

Software pioneer Mario Morino commissioned the report as a wake-up call to the area’s tech millionaires.

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