Searching for that $1 Billion in ConnectED Commitments

column | Policy and Government

Searching for that $1 Billion in ConnectED Commitments

Holding companies to their promises

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Jun 4, 2014

Searching for that $1 Billion in ConnectED Commitments

The wheels of school bureaucracies may seem creaky and slow--but so, too, it turns out, are those of corporate America.

In February, President Obama announced with some fanfare that he had rounded up technology donations worth more than a $1 billion from U.S. corporations for schools as part of the government’s ConnectED initiative. To be part of the initiative, companies had to commit to providing goods or services worth at least $100 million.

Several stepped up more: Adobe pledged $300 million worth of software. The Environmental Science Research Institute (ESRI) became so captivated by the idea that it agreed to give away organizational licenses for its mapping software (ArcGIS) to any K-12 school in the country--public or private--a pledge that could add up to $1 billion if every school took advantage of it.

Autodesk is expanding an already impressive program that has made individual licenses for Autodesk’s professional 3D design software solutions available to students since 2006 via the Autodesk Education Community. (The community has 2 million registered students.)

Yet four months later, some of the companies that proudly made those pledges have yet to identify how schools or teachers can apply for the products and services. If schools don’t know when they can apply, they can’t incorporate these materials into significant instruction plans. That makes the donations “nice to have”--but sadly limits the impact that they have on students and learning.

EdSurge has been calling (okay, badgering) these companies for a few weeks and we’ve rounded up what we’ve learned below. Click on the company name to see a press release or link on the company site relevant to this program.

We will be delighted to update this chart as the application processes become clearer.



Commitment: All major Autodesk Software: Professional-caliber 3D design software; secondary schools also get curricula modules, eTraining & Certification

Who's eligible? All accredited secondary and post-secondary schools. There are up to 2,000 seats in increments of 125 seats available.

When will the material be available? Now!

How do schools apply? Schools should apply here; curricula modules, eTraining and certifications are also available to secondary schools here. Schools should receive an email in about 1 day about their software request.

Environmental Science Research Institute (Esri)

Commitment: An ArcGIS Online Organization subscription (valued at $10K apiece)

Who's eligible? All U.S.-based K-12 schools, both public and private

When will the material be available? Applications opened May 27, 2014. Properly filled out applications will be granted "in a couple of business days."

How do schools apply? Here's more detailed information (including ConnectED information, resource links, and form link), or hop straight to the application.


Commitment: Adobe is making freely available software including: Adobe Photoshop Elements; Adobe Premiere Elements; Adobe Presenter and Adobe Captivate for e-Learning curricula; and Adobe EchoSign electronic signatures. Also free will be teacher professional development resources from the Adobe Education Exchange and the Adobe Youth Voices initiative.

Who's eligible? Teachers and students in Title 1 schools in the U.S.

When will the material be available? Sometime in June; schools or educators will find out their status in July 2014.

How do schools apply? Begin the process on the Adobe Education Exchange


Commitment: Four-year Prezi EDU Pro licenses (each worth about $240), together worth about $100 million.

Who's eligible? Any Title 1 high school or Title 1 K-12 educators

When will the material be available? Beginning in Sept. 2014

What's involved? Applying via the website; those selected will hear in 30 days

How do schools apply? Applications open now. Applicants should hear back about their status in about 30 days

O'Reilly Safari Books Online

Commitment: Technology books and publications

Who's eligible? "Every school in America" (by next year)

When will the material be available? Today! Safari is now opening an "early access" registration for 500 high school students. Every student will have a summer of on-demand online access to all 2,000 O'Reilly Media ebooks and videos currently available in the Safari Premium Library. In September, the program will be opened up for all high school students; in January 2015, any U.S. K-12 student or teacher can apply.

How do students apply? Hop on over here to be one of the lucky 500. By January, educators will be able to apply at

Hardware / Software Combos


Commitment: With its computer hardware partners Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenova, Toshiba and Panasonic, Microsoft will offer "a variety of laptops and tablets at various price points and sizes" (possibly down to $300 apiece) running Windows 8.1 Pro. Microsoft already offers Office 365 Education for free; it will up the ante by letting schools that license Office 365 Pro for staff let students use for free. Other offerings include search engine Bing without ads, professional and student development resources and (for low-income students) low-cost home Internet access.

Who's eligible? All US K-12 schools. Public schools must get a Letter of Eligibility (LOE), which they can get from a local Microsoft reseller. It will have to be renewed each year.

When will the material be available? Now. Miami-Dade is apparently already snapping up materials.

How do schools apply? Start on the Microsoft site here, but don't forget to first get that LOE. You are supposed to be able to find out more through live chat in addition to calling a sales rep.


Commitment: Apple has cpledged $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, software, PD, and expertise to help transform classrooms in some of the nation's most underprivileged communities.

Who's eligible? "Disadvantaged schools"

How do schools apply? Apple has not yet released the details of its program in the categories other than commitment

Telecom Services


Commitment: High-speed wireless broadband service for 50,000 students in schools

Who's eligible? Schools. Sprint says it will do a “comprehensive selection process” that will factor in the availability of high-speed wireless broadband Sprint Spark service and schools’ mobile learning plans.

When will the material be available? August 2014

How do schools apply? Sprint says it will open its application process for schools in mid June but it's not ready yet. It will also reach out via direct mail.


Commitment: Connectivity for educational devices (via your wireless network) for three years for students

Who's eligible? Middle school students or schools

How do schools apply? Not clear. AT&T is trying to coordinate with Apple.


Commitment: $100 million in cash and “in-kind commitments” to boost student achievement in STEM over three years

Who's eligible? Not clear

How do schools apply? Not clear. Verizon may tell all on June 6. We'll keep you posted!

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