Insight, Oxygen Target Digital Divide


NEW YORK -Insight Communications Co. and Oxygen Media last week said they forged a cobranded public-affairs partnership that will bring Insight's "In the Know" campaign and Oxygen's "Link to Think" curriculum to Louisville, Ky.

Titled "The Young Women's Technology Fellowship," this effort aimed at Louisville's high-school girls will "help bridge the digital divide by providing a unique technological education to young women who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in such a program," said Insight senior vice president of corporate relations Colleen Quinn and Oxygen senior vice president of corporate policy and public programming Cheryl Mills in a prepared joint statement.

Starting March 13, the fellowship will be offered to between 12 and 15 students who are motivated and in need, Quinn said last Wednesday. The two-month, after-school program will involve about 50 hours of in-class training for two teachers. Students will meet twice a week.

MSO Insight will supply free cable-modem connections for the project, she added.

During the curriculum, the fellows will create an online electronic magazine, or "e-zine," devoted to social issues.

Each girl's "Personal Page" will contain an autobiography and a link to her "Issues Page," which will offer a column on each girl's chosen social issue.

In the process, students-using personal computers donated by an as yet unidentified corporate partner-will learn valuable computer applications, as well as technical and journalistic skills that range from interview techniques and magazine layout to Web-site design.

Once the course is completed, participants can keep their computers, according to Mills and Oxygen director of sales Gretchen Beidl. Insight would provide free @Home cable-modem service for one year, Quinn added.

Oxygen executives said posters would be placed in 32 Louisville high schools, directing students to ask their principal for an application.

Insight has 240,000 subscribers in Louisville-which Quinn called "our largest market and largest urban market." It will run a cross-channel spot promoting the initiative.

The MSO is in the process of signing up "10 to 12" community sponsors who will put posters and flyers in stores and at other locations, Quinn said. Insight also is forming an advisory board of local women.

Oxygen and Insight regard the initiative as a pilot program that will be evaluated and possibly used elsewhere.

"In the Know" is a public-affairs initiative unveiled last fall by the No. 8 MSO as a way to build on the cable industry's pledge to provide free high-speed Internet access to accredited schools and public libraries. "Link to Think" is a curriculum through which Oxygen uses its programming and Internet presence to support advocacy, technology and creativity.

Because the curriculum was developed by Oxygen, rather than a tie-in sponsor, the network will underwrite the costs of materials, Mills said.