Foundation Scores Computers From CSC

Foundation Scores Computers From CSC

Darrell Green

By Nick Wakeman, Staff Writer

Sometimes Super Bowl rings and all-pro accolades aren't enough. Neither for that matter are contract wins and a busy General Services Administration schedule.

With an eye toward giving back to the community and helping those in need, Computer Sciences Corp. of El Segundo, Calif., has joined forces with Darrell Green, 16-year veteran of the Washington Redskins, to support his Youth Life Foundation. CSC has donated 10 computers to the foundation's learning center in Washington.

The donation is just the start of what Green and CSC officials say will be a long-term relationship between the two organizations.

Green's organization operates a learning center in the Franklin Commons housing project in Northeast Washington. His plan is to open other centers in Washington, Maryland and Virginia to work with inner city children and other disadvantaged groups.

Getting current technology to school children is vitally important, Green said. "Technology is the future, and we are in the future already," he said. "These are kids that don't have access to technology."

The goal of the learning center is to level the playing field for inner city youths not getting the academic, social and moral support they need, he said during a ceremony Nov. 10 at CSC's Falls Church, Va., facility. During the ceremony, Green implored the gathering of 100-plus CSC employees that everyone has a role to play.

"It's not about me; it's not about you; and it's not about CSC," he said. "It is about all of us coming together."

Michael Laphen, president of CSC's civil group, said the company plans on continuing to support Green's efforts in the area. "We want to make this a long-term partnership that grows and deepens over the years," he said.

In addition to working with CSC, Green's foundation also has a close relationship with SRA International Inc. of Fairfax, Va., and its president, Ernst Volgenau, who is a member of the foundation's advisory board.

SRA supports two other learning centers in Washington, Volgenau said. The company has donated its time, money and equipment and has worked with Green's foundation since 1993. The foundation opened the learning center in 1994.

"Our objective is to help build a lot more of these centers," Volgenau said. "But you have to do it carefully. You have to have the right infrastructure in place."

Green's center should serve as a model for other groups wanting to open learning centers for disadvantaged youths, Volgenau said. The value of the center is not just the technology the children are exposed to, he said. "What makes the real difference are the mentors, who help these kids academically, morally and ethically," Volgenau said.

Green said he is trying to reach out to other IT companies for more support. "We need help just keeping up with the technology," he said.

Too often in the past, companies approached Green's foundation wanting to donate outdated computers that were not compatible with what it already had, he said. But CSC came in, looked at what was in place, and configured the computers it was donating to be compatible with what is in place at the learning center, Green said.

CSC also has a commitment to make additional donations, Laphen said. At last week's ceremony, CSC also held a silent auction of signed Darrell Green memorabilia that raised an addition $760 from CSC employees.

The Green foundation also has received support from IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. with donations in the past of software and equipment.

The donated CSC computers, which company officials estimated are worth $10,000, have 486 and Pentium processors and run Windows 95.

Some computers may be used in the learning center, but others might be placed in the homes of the students who use the center, said Eric White, executive director of the foundation.

"This will allow us to get the families involved in the technology and in their children's education," he said.

Other technological needs of the center include establishing an Internet connection. "We need a server and we need cabling," White said.

While the foundation plans on expanding, no timetable to do so has been established, White said. But Herndon, Va., is the most likely spot for the next learning center, he said.

"There is a large immigrant population there, particularly Latino, that is falling through the cracks," he said.

Government officials from Prince George's County, Md., and the commonwealth of Virginia also have talked to Green's foundation about opening other centers, White said.

Running a center such as the one at Franklin Commons costs between $250,000 and $300,000 a year, White said.

The Franklin Commons center is serving more than 40 children from about 38 families in the housing project, White said. Besides a computer lab, the center offers a variety of other services such tutoring and teaching communication and social skills.

Children between the ages of 5 and 13 are enrolled, but once enrolled they stay in the program until they finish high school, White said. The after-school program operates from 3 to 8 p.m.

"We are trying to create doors of opportunity in a safe environment," White said.

The center tries to supplement what families, schools, churches and social services agencies are doing, White said. When one of those areas breaks down, the "children grow up insecure, and they don't prosper," he said.

"We aren't the whole answer," White said. "But we'll step into the fray and try to help."

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