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The International Business Machines Corporation has awarded $2 million to the Broward County, Fla., schools--the seventh grant in IBM's $25 million "Reinventing Education" initiative.

Launched last fall by the Armonk, N.Y.-based computer company, the project encourages districts and states to use technology to support systemwide school reforms. (See Education Week, Sept. 21, 1994.)

The Florida district will use the gift to create an integrated data system to keep track of student records, budgets, and other information. IBM will also help Broward officials use technologies such as "data mining" to analyze large amounts of database information rapidly and efficiently.

Since announcing the initiative, IBM has received about 200 proposals from school districts. Past grantees include the Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Charlotte-Mecklenberg, N.C., public schools and the states of Vermont and West Virginia. IBM expects to select the last three sites this fall.

While schools are usually recipients of charitable contributions, they can also be benefactors.

Schools can help by donating used furniture to Food for the Poor, an interdenominational relief agency based in Deerfield Beach, Fla., that works to combat poverty in developing Caribbean nations. The group is in search of teachers' and students' desks, chalkboards, textbooks, and other school supplies.

Over the past decade, the group has donated more than a million pieces of furniture to church- and mission-run schools in Haiti, Jamaica, and Guyana. Such schools are the primary source of free public education in those nations, said Kathy Koontz, a spokeswoman for the group.

"Pretty much anything that has been of use in the United States will find a use down there," Ms. Koontz said. Chalkboards often perform double duty as room dividers. And for some schools, the gifts mean that students no longer have to sit on bare dirt floors, added Ray Souliere, the coordinator of the donation program.

Food for the Poor arranges to pick up the furniture and pays for shipping.

"In so many areas, taking old furniture to a dump is very costly for schools," Mr. Souliere said. "We're really doing each other quite a favor. In the long run, the children in these third-world countries are the ones who benefit."

Schools or districts wishing to donate furniture or supplies to Food for the Poor should call Mr. Souliere at (305) 427-2222, ext. 271.

--Meg Sommerfeld

Vol. 15, Issue 10

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