Computers For Children Earns IBM Grant For Reading Proficiency

September 18, 2014 - Today Computers For Children (CFC) announced that IBM is donating technology and related services to help enhance the reading skills and literacy of Buffalo students. IBM is providing its Reading Companion program, a cloud-based software based literacy grant initiative that uses voice recognition technology to help children and adults learn how to read proficiently.


"Computers For Children has a long history of building dynamic new partnerships that help to advance the effective application of technology as learning tools," commented Christine Carr, executive director of CFC, "this partnership with IBM and the Reading Companion program is a major step forward in our mission to close the digital divide in our community, and will help to increase and improve overall literacy capabilities for many students who are struggling to achieve strong reading and language arts skills." In the next several weeks, Computers For Children will be selecting one school district to unveil the program and announce the partnership and software demonstration for students and their families in the upcoming weeks.

Computers For Children focuses especially on student populations who are challenged by economics, geography, or language and are limited in understanding how to use technology and the Internet in ways that will improve their day-to-day lives. This new collaboration with IBM is among the latest initiatives undertaken by CFC, prompted by IBM's desire to demonstrate its commitment to add value to the Buffalo Niagara region on the heels of its recent announcement that IBM is moving to Buffalo, and bringing 500 new jobs when the corporation sets up shop in the downtown Key Center as part of Governor Cuomo's statewide economic development initiative.

"Education, innovation, and community service are priorities for IBM," said Martin Laird, Manager of IBM's Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. "Our Reading Companion program reflects those imperatives, and can make a huge difference not only in the lives of those improving their literacy skills today, but for generations to come. We are privileged to provide resources to these students and teachers to accomplish that goal."

Developed by its researchers working in partnership with schools and not-for-profit organizations, Reading Companion is effective, innovative, and easy to use. Users wearing headset microphones log on to the Reading Companion website and are presented with material to read. As digital mentor "reads" a phrase to the user, who then repeats the words. The digital mentor provides immediate feedback on pronunciation. As the user's skill improves, less material is automatically narrated. IBM employees and teachers who mentor students can create original e-books and publish them to a virtual library available to any participant worldwide.

                     Contact: Christine Carr, Executive Director - 716.510.1088