Remarks by the President in Digital Divide Discussion with the East Palo Alto Community

The President's New Markets Trip:
From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity

April 17 - 18, 2000


Office of the Press Secretary
(East Palo Alto, California)

For Immediate Release April 17, 2000


Plugged In
East Palo Alto, California

9:07 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: You all sit down. Good morning. I want to thankMayor Wilson for making us welcome today. And thank you, Magda Escobar forall you have done. I also want to recognize some other people who are herewith us today. Reverend Jackson, thank you for coming. (Applause.) CarlyFiorina, the President of Hewlett-Packard; and Robert Knowling, thePresident of Covad, thank you for being here. (Applause.) Rebecca Lobo,thank you for being here. We're glad to see you. (Applause.)

I'd like to also acknowledge the presence in the audience of Secretaryof Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo; the Chairman of the FederalCommunications Commission Bill Kennard; and many members of Congress --Representative Zoe Lofgren, Representative John Conyers, RepresentativeBill Jefferson, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Silvestre Reyes,Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, Representative Anna Eshoo -- I thinkthat's all the members of Congress who are here.

I'd like to thank Gene Sperling and Maria Eschaveste. And I want torecognize especially the man who helped us avoid the Y2K problem, adistinguished Republican Senator from Utah, Bob Bennett. Thank you forcoming, Senator Bennett. We're glad to see you. (Applause.)

I'd also like to thank all the civil rights leaders who are here, thehigh-tech CEOs, the foundation directors. And I'd like to thank JulianLacey who is here for helping us kick off our national call to action fordigital opportunity. I know that all of you know Julian. Thank you.(Applause.)

I want to thank AOL for web casting today's event live. And I'd liketo say a special word of appreciation to one person who is not here whohelped us to develop our entire approach to closing the digital divide,Vice President Al Gore. I thank him as well. (Applause.)

Now, I will be brief because I want to get on to the questions. But Iwant to tell you why we're here. This is a very fortunate time for ourcountry. We have the strongest economy in history. We have the lowestAfrican American and Hispanic unemployment rates our country has everrecorded, and the lowest female unemployment rate in 40 years. But we allknow there are people and places that have not fully participated in thisnew economy.

I have been to a lot of those places on my digital divide tour -- Imean, my New Markets tours -- because I see these places as places ofopportunity, places of new markets. If we can create new employees, newbusinesses, new jobs, new opportunities, we can keep the American economygoing. This is one of those fortunate times when, by doing the thing thatis morally right, we actually help to keep America's economic expansionchurning forward. It's going to take the efforts of government, businessand the community sector to succeed.

This is our third New Markets tour. When I leave you, I'm going toNorthern New Mexico, to the Shiprock Navajo Reservation. And tomorrow I'llbe in Chicago, meeting with representatives of every aspect of thehigh-tech industry in America. I wanted to begin here in East Palo Alto --(applause) -- because even here in Silicon Valley, there are many peoplewho could be left behind, and because you're doing so much to make sureyou're not left behind. And we ought to be giving a helping hand.

I don't think there is a better place in America to show what can bedone to reach out to our children who are at risk of falling behind. Wecan see that here at Plugged In, at the Silican Valley Project, at the newCisco Sun Academy, where graduates are virtually assured of good jobs thatpay up to $70,000 a year. In a few minutes, I will announce some otherthings that corporate leaders here today are prepared to do to help thiscity on the move, move even faster.

Let me just briefly ask you to remember the history of this community.One hundred and fifty years ago, East Palo Alto got its start as acommunity called Ravenswood. Ravenswood was a good candidate to become thelast stop on the transcontinental railway, something that was veryimportant in the Industrial Age. Unfortunately, plans changed, therailroad bypassed Ravenswood altogether, and it was a decision that hadrepercussions for the people who lived in this community for a century ormore.

Today, we're in another time of fundamental economic transformation,but we can do it very differently because, unlike the railroads of theIndustrial Age, the trade routes of the Information Age can run throughevery city, every town, every community. And, in fact, the morecommunities they run through, the better it works.

No one has to be bypassed this time around. The choice is in ourhands. We can use new technology to extend opportunity to more Americansthan ever before; we can truly move more people out of poverty more rapidlythan ever before, or we can allow access to new technology to heighteneconomic inequality and sharpen social division.

Again, I say, the choice is ours. But I want to reiterate a point Imade earlier. The truth is that doing the right thing will accelerate thestrength of this powerful economic engine. (Applause.) Every economistknows that new technologies will continue to drive rapid economic growthonly if they continue to spread to all sectors of our economy.

I have made closing this digital divide a big priority. It is a bigpriority in our budget and a big priority for trying to enlist the energiesof our fellow citizens. That's why I issued a national call to action, toenlist the support of businesses, state and local governments, communitygroups, foundations, schools and volunteers. Already, more than 400organizations have signed on to our call.

To reach these broad national goals, all of us are going to have to doour part. In addition to our $2.25 billion e-rate initiative, which allowsus to hook up every school and library in the country to the Internet,including those who can't afford it on their own -- (applause) -- and ournew $450 million Technology Literacy Challenge, which helps to provide topoor areas -- the computers, the software, the teacher training and theInternet access that's so important. I'm asking Congress for $100 millionfor community technology centers like Plugged In --(applause) -- $150million to help train all new teachers to use the technology and theInternet in the classroom -- (applause) -- and $2 billion in new taxincentives for computer donations and contributions to our schools, ourlibraries and community technology centers. (Applause.)

But the important announcement is the one I want to make today.Corporations in this area have committed over $100 million to help you dowhat you do best. Gateway will provide technology training to 75,000teachers, including every single teacher here in East Palo Alto.(Applause.) Novell will donate $20 million in software for nonprofitorganizations devoted to helping underserved Hispanic organizations.(Applause.) Hewlett-Packard will invest $15 million in a new digitalvillage initiative to help three underserved communities, starting here inEast Palo Alto. (Applause.)

Qualcomm is giving back to the city where it's based, San Diego, witha $25 million commitment, including $7 million -- this is important -- toimprove math and science education among all of our young people.(Applause.) Power Up, a partnership of AOL, Gateway and several othercompanies that bring technology to young people in schools and communitycenters, is going to expand from 19 to 250 sites nationwide. AmeriCorps, astrong partner of Power Up, will assign 400 of our young volunteers to workat these sites. AOL is going to provide 100,000 accounts for use at thesesites, a commitment worth $26 million every year. (Applause.)

Applied Materials has pledged a million dollars for projects such as anew high-tech job training center for the people of East Palo Alto.(Applause.) And they are going to be in partnership with the city and withReverend Jackson's Rainbow Push coalition, which has an office right aroundthe corner here. (Applause.) I promised Jesse, I would promote his jobsite too, you see, around the corner.

AT&T is committing $1.2 million to support the Academy of InformationTechnology, which is dedicated to helping high school students prepare forhigh-paying jobs in the high-tech industry. Cisco will invest $1.4 millionto expand its Cisco Network Academy Program to 10 more under-servedcommunities.People PC has agreed to donate 300 new multimedia computers to the EastPalo Alto Schools. (Applause.)

I want to thank all these corporations and all their leaders for theirnew commitments and I want to thank Covad for leading an effort to increaseminority participation in the high tech industry. We are nowhere nearwhere we ought to be on that. (Applause.)

Now, the commitments of governments and corporations are only part ofthe equation. The rest requires motivation and that's what I want us allto focus on for the rest of our time here. Frankly, all the computers andsoftware and Internet connections in the world won't do much good if youngpeople don't understand that access to new technology means access to newlearning opportunities, new job opportunities, new entrepreneurialopportunities -- access to the new economy.

That's why I am very pleased that the Kaiser Family Foundation isgoing to create a major public service campaign to inspire young people toget on computers and get on line. The ads will air on NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox,BET, Univision, MTV, The Cartoon Network and other major channels. Theywill feature Magic Johnson and Rebecca Lobo, who will highlight newtechnologies and the fact that they're not only fun, they can open a lot ofdoors in life. will also air their own PSAs, encouraging AfricanAmericans to use the Internet and participate. Let's give them all a hand.That's great. (Applause.)

Now, let me just say this. I want to thank the people at Plugged Inagain, Magda and all the others. Places like this can change livesforever. You come in, learn how to design web pages or set up networks orjust how to use the Internet as a tool for discovery. That gives you thepower to control your future.

I want to show you something. If you haven't done this, I want tourge you all to take a look at the classifieds from yesterday's San JoseMercury News. There are 10,000 technology-related jobs advertised in thispaper. If they could be held by every unemployed and underemployed personin East Palo Alto, this would be a better country today. (Applause.) Sowhether it's finding a high-tech job or serving as a teacher or just beinga more effective parent, every young person needs to know how to use thistechnology. It will serve you well, no matter what you do.

Now I'd like to begin our discussion by asking Rebecca Lobo a questionthat I hope will help us to understand what's involved here in gettingyoung people to actually commit themselves to becoming technologicallyliterate.

A lot of people, Rebecca, across the country look up to you because --you're tall. (Laughter.) And they also look up to you because you're agreat basketball player, a great human being and, therefore, a great rolemodel. They see the life you have; they'd like to have a career inprofessional sports. But a lot of kids have to find their stardomsomewhere else -- there are only so many people who can make it in sports,but everybody can make it in life. So I'd like to know how you would speakto children to try to persuade them how to become technologically literate,why they should master computers and the Internet. What would your messagebe?

MS. LOBO: My message to kids all the time -- generally, they askquestions about basketball, but it's to follow their dreams, becausewhatever their dreams are, they can come true. Generally, all kids justwant to be successful and they want to have an opportunity to besuccessful. And now the Internet is the way to be able to find the successthat they want, to achieve the dreams that they want. And they just needthe opportunities to be able to get on the Internet, to have access to theInternet, to have people showing them how to use it so that they can pursuewhatever dream it is -- they can find information about whatever job orwhatever career -- whether it's sports or anything that they want topursue.

And one thing that's been exciting for me -- I'm on the Internet allthe time -- through, kids can ask me questions. And I try toanswer all of my e-mails and I think it's a pretty cool thing when a kid isdoing a report in school, and they're doing a report on me and they have aquestion. And so they e-mail it to me and they get it right from thesource, the answer.

But you go out and you encourage these kids and let them know how muchfun the Internet can be. And you want people to pursue their passions.I've been fortunate to be able to follow my dream and make a living doingwhat I love to do. And you want all people to have that opportunity andyou want to encourage these kids, that they can find that opportunity andhave that access through the Internet. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Is it on? I'm still technologically challenged,right? (Laughter.) I want to ask Reverend Jackson a question. You'vebeen involved in the civil rights revolution all your life. We were justin Selma together. When Dr. King died, he was moving the civil rightsrevolution to a new stage, the stage of economic opportunity. And you havespent most of the last 30-plus years trying to extend that opportunity topeople who have been left out and left behind. What do you think this newtechnology means to your prospects of succeeding at the work of the last 30years?

REVEREND JACKSON: First of all, let me take the liberty to say, Mr.President, that you're taking the message to the people, taking light todark places, coming to Selma, to Appalachia, to East Palo Alto. This isthe quality of leadership our nation deserves. We must really thank youfor that. Thank you for that. (Applause.)

When Dr. King looked at the Great Divide in 1955, he knew it was theenlightened energy of young America that could change the course. And sowhen Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, he said better thatwe walk in dignity than walk in shame, young America came alive. At thattime, the White House didn't move, the Congress didn't move. Young Americacame alive. In 1960, four students sat in to get hamburgers; they gothandcuffs and they were threatened expulsion from school. They chosedignity over dollars and degrees. Young America came alive.

We now have a public accommodations bill, the right to vote, allbecause young America came alive. And thus, those who would be free muststrike the first blow. Literally ,at that time, we were in a socialrevolution and we changed laws. We are now in a cultural revolution andyoung people must bring forth a new energy. I would say, to use one poet,Gene Sperling's language, shift from high tops to laptop, in terms ofwhat's important. Because you can get your high tops from your laptop andyou cannot get your laptop from your high tops, in terms of what isimportant to young America.

We are going to do a conference out here May 1st through 3rd, theRainbow Push. And I must say the first thing -- we are going to meet with3,000 youth from East Palo Alto and San Jose and energize them, and CarlyFiorina and Bob are here about computers -- so we must make this the mass,stylish, the thing-to-do movement. We are also going to organize athousand churches. We want the churches to put laptops and computers intheir Sunday school rooms, so churches can be after-school homework centersfor our youth, and make this a mass movement for students and parents andpreachers.

I am convinced, when I look at people like Magic Johnson and IsaiahThomas -- when these young people grasp this -- and they are now -- I hopewe're closing the gap real fast with those who have the energy to make ithappen. And I see young America catching on. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I would like to ask a question of Carly Fiorina. Oneof the things that bothers me about being President is that I can -- I'm afairly high energy person so I can go to a place like East Palo Alto and wecan get everybody together and we can get all these commitments and peoplecan follow through on their commitments. But I'm always worried thatsomehow there will be a gap between this moment and when people's livesreally change. And I would like to know what you think it will really takefor the investment revolution to permeate this community and others like itto the extent that we really will be able to guarantee equal opportunity toall these kids, if they master the fundamentals of the informationrevolution.

MS. FIORINA: Well, first, I would say, Mr. President, that you arecorrect. As wonderful as it is that you come here today, what it's reallyabout is all of the commitments that preceded your visit and all of thecommitments that will follow your visit.

There are, however, I think three basic laws in the high-tech industrytoday -- laws that I think represent opportunity for those who will learnand have access to the technology. One fundamental law is that thehigh-tech industry is in a constant war for talent. We don't have enoughpeople with enough skills. That will continue to be the case for many,many, many, many years to come because this is a growth industry and thereis no end to that growth in sight.

So whether it is Covad or Novell or Cisco or Sun or Hewlett-Packard orany of the other companies that are here in Silicon Valley, all of us worryfirst and foremost about finding enough talent. That's the first law.

The second law is that technology -- information technology and theInternet can be the great equalizer. The Internet and informationtechnology can erase the barriers of time and distance, and yes, thebarriers of prejudice, as well, because if people have the tools, if peoplehave the skills, if people have the access, they represent the talent thatthis industry needs.

And the third law is that without those tools, without that access,without those skills, the divide becomes greater and greater and greater.And so I really think it is about communities and corporations andgovernment working together to make sure that people have access to thetools and the technology, access to training, access to skills. But restassured, the industry needs people who have these skills. It's worth theeffort to learn because it can change lives in dramatic ways, but the needfor the skill is there and that need for skill will last for many, manydecades to come. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let me just say -- I just want to followup on something. I want you to think about this. We're all sitting heretalking about this -- with 10,000 job vacancies being advertised in thepaper yesterday in this area. If we don't do this now, when are we evergoing to get around to it? Do you think we'd be having this meeting if theunemployment rate were 10 percent in America, or 10 percent in California?This is the time we've got to do this.

We're back in Washington today debating legislation about how much --not whether, but how much -- we have to raise the cap on visas to bring inpeople from other countries who are trained in these skills. And I'mpro-immigration. I'm all for this. We've got to do it, we've got to keepthese industries going. We've got to do the right thing. But I'm alsotrying to make sure when we do it, we get more investments to train peoplehere to do those jobs. Because you can do it. (Applause.)

And I just want to say something to the local folks here and to thekids who are here. You've got to decide whether you believe intelligenceis equally distributed in this world; I do -- whether you believe abilityis equally distributed; I do. I mean, not for everything. I couldn't playbasketball like Rebecca. But everybody can do something, and everybody canlearn this.

I just got back from India, a country with a per-capita income of $450a year. And I was in a poor village where I saw women who were almostilliterate, never even been given a privilege of going to school, gettingon computers, calling up their government's web page, getting informationabout how to take care of their newborn babies, in remote villages becausethey had a computer with a good printer to take the software -- give it tothem, they could take it home.

This can change the way the world works, and it can save you and yourchildren from having to wait 30 years to move into the mainstream. It canbe done in a matter of months or a year. But you have to believe it, andyou have to take advantage of it. And if we can't do it where there's10,000 job vacancies in the paper, we will never get around to doing it.

I would like to ask Bob Knowling to talk a little bit about -- to bemore specific here. What kind of job opportunities are available forminorities, for example, who may come from poor homes or poor neighborhoodsor poor communities, if they get the skills and the training they need?And what do you think is the most important thing they could do and wecould do to bridge this gap?

MR. KNOWLING: Thank you, Mr. President. The jobs, quite frankly,they cover the waterfront, and there are technicians that can design websites become software developers; there are a number of IT personnel thatare needed in the industry. The jobs truly, they scan the waterfront.

The issue, I believe, however is all the things that we've heardtoday. But there are some other issues that also need to be addressed.And I, for one, thank the President of this country for his leadership interms of providing these forums and becoming a catalyst for change.

In some work that I've been doing with the ITAA, which is trying to atleast address the issue of how come we don't have more women and people ofcolor in these high-tech jobs -- if you think about the number of studentsthat are taking the math and science courses, computer science courses,engineering, there is a disproportionate number of them that get throughthe educational system and the process, but they don't end up in the jobs.And you have to ask yourself the question, why not. And while there may be10,000 jobs in the San Jose paper this past weekend, I'm convinced that thelast, at least, frontier for this issue is that business must quit lipservice and provide the job and give the access. (Applause.)

It seems to me that if you just look at this little scenario I paintedfor you, why don't they end up in the jobs? Is the issue they don't havethe intellectual capacity? Is the issue they haven't had the right grades?Well, I am a firm believer, as the President just said, that this is notabout genetics, it's all about environment. And we still live in a countrywhere we don't value difference. We still live in a country where the openaccess is not there.

I just recently finished a meeting with Hydra-- where they weretelling me they had over a hundred CEO jobs in the high-tech sector thatthey're trying to fill. Well, as we move down into organizations and getto the middle-level jobs and the entry-level jobs, this problem justmushrooms.

So what I hope that will happen because, basically, what the Presidentjust said is this is sort of like Sunday service -- we go to church onSunday, and when he comes here it's sort of like the Sunday morning messageand we all feel good, we all leave here very pumped up, committed, etcetera. But then Monday morning comes, and by the time we get to Friday weforgot everything that he just told us and we're right back to Sunday,needing some more renewal.

So my hope is that when he will leave here today, we will stop the lipservice about access and we will open the doors and embrace -- because thepeople are out there. Covad Communication -- this is not a commercial --isfilling jobs. We are filling jobs at every level. We need more talent.

And I guess at the end of the day it surprises me somewhat, but comingfrom a family of 13 and being poor all my life, I never thought I'd get tothe day where I would not consider myself a role model. But I am extremelyencouraged that folks like Rebecca and Magic Johnson are going to go on thepublic service airways and show kids that it's cool to be high-tech.Because when they see folks who they admire, they see people that they'velooked up to -- if they can see them embracing technology, you will get akid who's in the 3rd and 4th grade saying, you know what, maybe I should goto class, maybe I should study the math, maybe I should become plugged in.Because I believe if they can see the right kind of role models, kids willwant to stay in the discipline and I do believe the jobs are there.

So let's hope that we cannot disappoint the President and the nexttime he comes here there's not 10,000 jobs in the paper, but there's only afew jobs in the paper. (Applause.)


Q Mr. President, we have a question from a child in the audience.

THE PRESIDENT: All right. There's somebody in the audience? Okay.

Q Good morning, Mr. President. I am nine years old. My questionis, what do you use your computer for and what do you use the Internet for.(Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you what, you know what I did? AtChristmastime I actually ordered Christmas presents with the computer. Iconfess, I don't use it much for e-mail, but that's for very personalreasons. When I want to talk to my daughter, for example, I get on thephone and call her. If you work for the government, you don't use e-mailvery much unless you want it all in the newspaper. (Laughter.)

So I mostly use -- and the other thing I do is I try to find newsites. When I hear about something new, I try to get onto it. Forexample, when I learned that now up to 30,000 people were making a livingoff e-Bay -- I'm always reluctant to give one company a free commercialhere -- and that a lot of them had once been on welfare, I wanted to lookat it and figure out how were these people making a living.

So, for me, I'm almost like you, I'm still trying to learn about allthis and I'm so interested in what its possibilities are. But the onlything I get personal benefit out of is shopping, because it's hard for meto move around very much. (Laughter.)

Let me say, I also wanted to thank -- I forgot to say something -- Iwanted to thank the Costano Elementary Choir. They sang before I got here.So let's give them a big hand. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Q Our event is also being broadcast live over the Internet courtesyof AOL. Internet questions are being submitted by young people from 17locations across the country.

The question is from Jefferson Elementary School, we have Christine.What can we as students do to help attract high-tech industries into ourarea?

THE PRESIDENT: You should answer that.

MS. FIORINA: Well, high-tech industries go where there are a couplefundamentals. They go where there is a pool of skilled labor. They gowhere the education system will continue to develop that pool of skilledlabor. They go where the tax systems encourage their participation andthey go where transportation systems can enable their growth. And if thoseenablers are there, high-tech industries in search of talent will come.But it starts with education and talented pool of labor.


THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, Jesse. Let me just answer that questionreal quick, though, because this is important. People ask me this all thetime.

The truth is, everything Carly said is right. Therefore, if youreally want high-tech jobs in your area and you don't have them, you needto examine your school system and then get someone who understands allthese factors that she just mentioned, to come into your community and helpyou develop a specific plan for all the changes you need to make to get itdone. This is not something that can be done in a speech. I used to dothis for a living when I was a governor.

This is about having a specific plan -- what are you going to do,what's the list of people you're going to contact, who's going to do thework. So if the students who asked me this question are really interestedin it, your community needs a plan and then somebody needs to be chargedwith carrying it out and then somebody else needs to be checking on them tomake sure they're doing it. It is like every other endeavor, you've got tohave a plan and then you've got to execute it.

REVEREND JACKSON: I also think, Mr. President, it is also fair to saythat, while motivation is important and attitude is important, Bob kepthammering at access. There are still many pockets in the country likeAppalachia and like East Palo Alto, really, here, an island in the ocean ofhigh-tech, fundamentally disconnected. We opened our office here twomonths ago and did not have enough lines -- wasn't big enough to get enoughtelephone lines in this island for the schools here, for the seniors whoneed the e-medicine here.

So we have these pockets where we have under-served markets andunutilized talent and untapped capital. And just maybe what your tour isdoing, not only is it bringing light to East Palo Alto, but around thecountry as we visit we see virtually every city fully wired jails andunwired schools. Now, the move has been made to address that now, but weneed some combination of structural universal access as well as motivationand access to capital for entrepreneurship. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that.

Any other questions in the audience there? Go ahead.

Q My name is Maria. I am nine years old. My question is, whatwill technology be in the future? (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I certainly can't answer that. Who wants toanswer that? Bob, you want to answer that question?

MR. KNOWLING: The technology of the future, I guess if I really didhave a crystal ball and I gave you the right answer I might be able toretire tomorrow, because I will be a genius. Five years ago, could any ofguess that we would be so eccentric, that literally the Internet ischanging our lives, the way that we work, the way that we play, et cetera.

But I believe the technology of the future is that things that we taketoday, in terms of our manual mechanization of things, I think money willbecome passe. I think we all will be going around with smart cards andsmart chips. The Internet access that we traditionally sit down at ahardwired device today to reach out to e-mail and to other people aroundthe globe, it will become a very mobile technology, where -- literally,through handheld devices. And, as you've seen the migration of cellulartechnology, where devices went from bulky things to very sleek things. I'malways marveled when I get on an airplane and I see people with things thatlook as small as a credit card. It's going to become very, very mobile interms of the access and I believe that the other thing that will happen isthat you will see a globalization in terms of the ability to transact andcommunicate through these devices will be sort of the future.

At the end of the day, though, the Internet and this whole revolutionthat we are seeing in front of us, 200 years from now when they write thehistory books, these will become the new Harvard business case studies.This will make the industrial revolution pale in comparison.

MS. FIORINA: I guess the only thing I would add is we hope peopleabout your age help us figure that out, what technology will be like 20years from now.

But I think to Bob's point, fundamentally I believe -- and everyone inthe high-tech industry believes -- we are moving to a point wheretechnology will become so pervasive, it will become both intimate andnonintrusive. Today, technology is intrusive, it's not everywhere.Technology will move to the point where it is friendly and intimate andpersonalized, where everything is connected and everything is intelligent.And it will work for you instead of you having to work for it.

THE PRESIDENT: I also think what you will see is that -- two things-- I think all communications, information and entertainment systems willmerge. So people will be carrying around things that are telephones, arefaxes, are televisions, you know, calling up movies and everything else inone little thing they can carry around with them. I think you will havethat.

And the other thing I think will happen is there will be a radicalalteration in the relationship of energy to work, which will enable us todramatically improve the protection of the global environment and generatea whole different kind of jobs than we've ever had before. I think thoseare the two things that will happen over the next 20 years.

There was one other -- I promised the lady over here --that youngwoman, yes, I promised her.

Q -- I'm with the Girls Club. And our question is, are you goingto help our community's youth to receive internship in the Silicon Valley,since we also live here? (Applause.)

MS. FIORINA: I think that question was directed at companies. I hopeso. But Hewlett-Packard has been providing internships to people in EastPalo Alto and communities, frankly, all over the world for many decades.And I know other companies do so, as well. But internship for us is a wayof getting access to talent; it's a way of us getting to know a potentialfuture full-time employee. So our internship program has been verysuccessful for us over decades, and we believe has been a great experiencefor the interns who have shared some time with us.

THE PRESIDENT: How old are the interns? When do you start?

MS. FIORINA: Most of them start at the end of their high school yearsand in their college years. I don't think we have interns much youngerthan 15 or 16.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say this. Maybe one of the things thatthe Mayor could do is to sort of scout the interest in the high schools ofthe community and then talk to some of the companies about it. I'll betyou could arrange for some intern or intern-like programs for kids in theirhigh school years so at least they could be exposed to these companies andsee what it is they need to do. And we could come out with something goodhere. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, we have time for one last question from on-line.This is from Leadership Education Athletics in Connecticut, from MayaWatts: How do you plan to help children from poor neighborhoods get accessto the Internet?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, right now, what we are trying to do is to makesure all the schools are wired. And when we started, only about 3 percentof our schools were, 1993. Now, we're up to 95 percent of the schools inthe country have at least one Internet connection, including 90 percent ofthe schools in low income areas. Surprisingly enough, some of our schools,believe it or not, can't be wired because they are so dilapidated, which iswhy I've been trying to get a school construction initiative passed throughCongress. (Applause.)

This may be hard for you to believe out here, but there are schools inNew York City that are still heated by coal-fired furnaces. InPhiladelphia, the average school building is 65 years old. And there areliterally some of our poorest schools in our poor neighborhoods that we arephysically unable to wire. But apart from them, by the end of this year,we should be at 100 percent of the schools.

Then what I think we need to do is to look at some of the things thathave been done, for example, by Lucent and others in Union City, NewJersey, where they are trying to put more computers and Internetconnections into the homes of first generation immigrants so that they can-- the parents can e-mail the principals and the teachers and learn andactually having -- my goal is -- it can't be done while I'm stillPresident, but I'm going to keep working on it -- my goal is to have thepenetration of computers and Internet access in this country to equal thepenetration of telephone usage. That's what our goal ought to be. Weought to not quit until we get there. (Applause).

Q Mr. President, we actually have time for one last question fromthe audience.

Q Hello.

THE PRESIDENT: No, let this lady go and then I'll take yours. No,this lady first and then you. Okay, go ahead.

Q Hi, Mr. President. My parents both voted for you. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

Q My name is Weslina Ford (phonetic) and I used to work for PluggedIn Enterprises. And my question is, what kind of programs and educationwould you encourage to help promote more access to science and engineeringto me as an African American female?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mentioned one of them in my announcement, butI think that beyond what we have talked about here, I think generally thereneeds to be a greater emphasis among young female students and amongminority students on science, engineering, mathematics education. And weactually have some initiatives to invest in that, to do more outreach, domore recruitment, get more people involved in these programs; to encouragemore people to go on to college to major in these programs in the 21stCentury Science and Technology initiative that the Congress has. And Ithink it's about a $3 billion initiative. I think it has very broadbipartisan support and I expect it to pass.

But I think we need to continue to just work on recruitment, and thenmake sure that the kids that are interested in it take the courses in highschool they need to take to get into the college majors. But I hope --that's one of the things that I was talking about. You know, we don't haveenough women or minorities in a lot of these technology fields. But thereare a lot of other fields related to science and engineering where we needmore.

I was talking to a young woman yesterday, who is a classmate of mydaughter's at Stanford, about that, in the engineering area. And I think alot of it, too, is making people believe they can do it. You know, in thatsense, there is a parallel to the -- a few years ago, we had a lot oftalented women basketball players, but they didn't imagine that they couldhave a pro league that could work, but it does now. And so Rebecca has gota whole different life than she would have had if she had been anall-American college basketball player 20 years ago. She wouldn't have hadthe life she now has. And that's -- someone imagined it and then they wentaround putting it together.

And I think it's even easier if we can just get more talent into thescience and technology and engineering fields. And I think the main thingis recruitment and then making sure the young women and other people whohave been left out actually do the preparatory work they need to get intothe majors. I think the companies will recruit them coming out of collegeif they get there in the first place.

Now, I promised this lady she could ask her question.

Q I rise to a point of privilege. I'm a septuagenarian and I'vebeen here for 40 years. The thing that I was going to say I'm not going tosay. I'm just going to welcome you here on behalf of the community of EastPalo Alto, welcome Reverend Jackson back again, and Mr. Conyers and therest of the distinguished people. (Applause.)

Q We have received hundreds of e-mails from students across thecountry, and once the President gets back I understand he will beresponding to them.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we want to respond to all the e-mails.

Q Great, wonderful.

THE PRESIDENT: Anything else? Let me say to all of you -- I'd liketo ask you to give a big hand to Senator Bennett and all the members of theHouse of Representatives that are here. I thank them for coming.(Applause.)

One of the things I've noticed after seven years of being President isthat the President gets to give the speeches, but if the Congress doesn'tappropriate the money, it's just a speech. So I think their interest inbeing here is very encouraging, indeed. I want to thank all the chiefexecutive officers of all these companies who are here because much of thework that will be done and much of the commitment that has been made todaycomes from them. So give them a hand as well. (Applause.)

And let me urge you again not to get discouraged, to work on this, andto remember that as big as the challenges seem, there are other people forwhom the challenges are greater. I will just give you one example. Whenwe get to the Shiprock Reservation today, we will be at a place where only20 percent of the residents have telephones. Now, you can't be on theInternet if you don't even have a line. The last Indian reservation Ivisited, the unemployment rate was 73 percent.

The one thing you have here is physical proximity and you ought tomake the most of it. I'm out there trying to figure out how to help otherpeople overcome physical distance from Appalachia to the small towns of theMississippi Delta to these Native American reservations. You've got theproximity. These people showed up here today for you. And now, to someextent, the community, the schools, you've got to make the most of this.They want to be here to help you and you can do it. Thank you very muchand God bless you.


END 9:55 A.M. PDT


Back to New Markets Trip


From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity

Motivating Young People to Get Connected

The Clinton-Gore Administration's Record to Help Close the Digital Divide

Bridging the Digital Divide and Creating Digital Opportunity for All Americans

Highlighting Technology's Economic Opportunity At COMDEX

Remarks in Webcast with Students from Lake Valley School

New Markets Trip Photo Gallery

Remarks to the People of the Navajo Nation

Highlighting Technology's Economic Opportunity in Shiprock

Digital Divide Discussion with the East Palo Alto Community

Background on the Digital Divide and East Palo Alto, California

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