January 21, 2001

The BellSouth Foundation Board of Trustees today approved the program designs and funding for the Foundation's philanthropic initiatives for the upcoming five-year period.

The Foundation has adopted Gaining Ground! as the theme for its strategic initiatives and corresponding grant programs in the field of education for 2001 - 2005. In doing so, the Foundation is highlighting its plans to expand its vision, its mission and its territory during the upcoming five-year period.

During the last five years, the Foundation's primary focus has been threefold: 1) the training and support of elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and superintendents; 2) school district reform efforts; and 3) the use of technology in the classroom. The initiatives were groundbreaking and the results overwhelming. Building on this success, the Foundation plans to continue and enrich its ongoing work as well as expand into other areas of need.

"Over the next five years, the Foundation will seek to close the various 'divides' that limit educational progress in the Southeast," said Pat Willis, president of the BellSouth Foundation. "At the same time, it will help forge new paths on a set of continuing and emerging educational priorities in both the Southeastern United States and the Southern Hemisphere."

High school reform and achievement, the success of minority college students, and the needs of technologically disadvantaged communities are the three areas the Foundation has identified as having 'divides' that need to be closed. Attention to these areas represents a deepening of the Foundation's commitment to help solve some of the South's most intractable problems.

At the same time, the Foundation will expand its scope of involvement in three other areas: teacher supply and quality and educator leadership; new understanding of learning in technology-infused schools; and the needs of "working children" in Latin America. The third is the program in which the BellSouth Foundation most literally will "gain ground."

Believing that BellSouth has a responsibility to serve all of the communities in which it operates, the BellSouth Foundation, along with BellSouth International, announced the Latin America initiative, known as BellSouth Pronino, last November.

An estimated 20 million school-aged children in Latin America are working, instead of going to school, to help support their families. Through Pronino, the Foundation and BellSouth's affiliate companies in 10 Latin American countries will extend grants to many of these children and their families, thereby giving the children the opportunity to attend school. The grants will total about $6 million over the next five years and will provide tuition, school supplies, uniforms, transportation and food to approximately 6,000 children per year. For more information about BellSouth Pronino, visit its Website at www.bellsouth.com/pronino .

The BellSouth Foundation will launch special initiatives in the other identified areas in the coming months and will invite grantseekers to apply online. For information regarding the grants and for application information, please refer to the Foundation's award-winning Website at www.bellsouthcorp.com/bsf . In an effort to encourage the educational community to make more active use of new technology, the BellSouth Foundation now offers all its operations online.

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