$250M tech discounts – Computer deals bridge divide

Gateway Inc. will sell discounted computers to students, faculty, and alumni at historically and predominantly black colleges and universities through a partnership with an umbrella organization.

The two-year partnership between Gateway and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education could be valued at up to $250 million.

The program will enable students, faculty and alumni at certain schools to buy Gateway computers at discounted prices. Gateway will then pay the school 2 percent of each sale for scholarships and give up a further 3 percent rebate to the school based on sale volume.

“This is the most significant activity taking place so far to impact the digital divide,” Florida A&M University spokesman Sterling Adams said.

Gateway and association officials say more than 4 million people will be able to take advantage of the discounts. Gateway will also offer internships and conduct recruitment on black college campuses as part of the program.

“No component of this is a donation,” said Mark Mose, Gateway’s Maryland account executive. “The schools will earn a lot of these benefits.”

Mose pointed out that the program expands market opportunities for Gateway in a population that lacks Internet access.

A Commerce Department report last July found that black and Hispanic households are only two-fifths as likely to have access to the Internet as white families.

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