ORT and HP open Digital Community Center in Russia


4 June 2004 On 24th May ORT, Hewlett-Packard, and the city of Tula in Russia celebrated the opening of the Digital Community Centre in Tula. The 50-computer centre, dedicated to upgrading the quality of education and providing disadvantaged persons in the community with valuable employment skills through the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT), is the result of the combined effort of all three partners. ORTs latest partnership with HP, part of a three-year community development project through HPs Philanthropy and Education programme, comes after a similar centre was opened in Dikhatole, South Africa in 2002 and in Slavutych, Ukraine at the beginning of May. HP is funding the Slavutych DCC as part of its global corporate philanthropy programme to overcome the digital divide. The initiative will help enable Tulas citizens to benefit from better access to technology and education. ORT was represented at the opening ceremony by Avi Ganon, World ORT Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia; Aleksei Semenov, Vice President of ORT Russia; Sergey Gorinskiy, ORT CIS and Baltic States Deputy Director for Research and Development; and Kevin Krogmann, CIS and Baltic States Regional Coordinator for World ORTs International Cooperation Department. Didier Philippe, Director of e-Inclusion and Social Investment, HP EMEA; and Owen Kemp, Vice President and General Director of HP Russia, represented HP, which has provided all of the equipment and is funding the project during its initial three years. The Tula city authorities were represented by Vladimir Arsentiev, First Deputy Mayor of Tula. The opening ceremony was attended by over 30 top community leaders from Tula, including Irina Matyzhenkova, Deputy Mayor for Social Issues; Elvira Igraeva, Head of the Tula Municipal Education System; and Raisa Fomina, Principal of Municipal Secondary School No. 55, where the Digital Community Centre is located. The ORT and HP guests were welcomed at the school with the traditional Russian bread and salt carried by two students from school No. 55 in traditional dress. The official ceremony was preceded by welcoming remarks from Ms. Fomina, the schools principal, welcoming the guest to the school and thanking ORT and HP, which demonstrated, first and foremost, a love and attention to the students that is vital, but unfortunately all too rare. Mr. Arsentiev then opened the ceremony on behalf of the mayor of Tula, Sergei Kazakov. He praised the social investment that ORT and HP have made in Tula with the opening of the centre and noted that the goals of the centre would make an enormous contribution to developing the local capacity necessary to realize the citys e- plans. He closed by remarking that ORT, HP, and the city of Tula were really celebrating the beginning of a strategic partnership, the beginning of our work together, that will assist the city of Tula far into the future. Mr. Krogmann and Dr. Gorinskiy then made short presentations on the content of the Digital Community Centre project and ORTs plans for the further development of the project. Given Tulas industrial background, Dr. Gorinskiy noted that ORT and Tulas officials agreed that a key element of the centres future work will be to stimulate technological creativity in working with youth both as part of their school education and by offering extracurricular activities. As Kevin Krogmann noted, the computers and other equipment that was on display at the opening only represented the brawn, the muscle, of the project. The heart of the project is the people, the community, and the possibilities for changing peoples lives for the better that the centre offers. The technical presentations were followed by remarks from the leaders of project partners ORT and HP. As Avi Ganon remarked, The Tula centre has become a part of a warm and supporting family that will accompany the centres students, the community, and the city as it progresses and developsthis is the first centre and the first cooperation between ORT and HP in Russia, a fruitful collaboration that will continue to develop and grow far into the future. Didier Philippe explained the nature and goals of HPs e-inclusion and philanthropy programmes, and how the Digital Community Centre fits into the 8 similar projects that HP has funded throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In his remarks, Owen Kemp noted how important the Tula centre was for HPs business team in Russia, especially with HPs plans to increase investment in Russia and strengthen its direct presence in the Russian regions. HP has been active in Russia for over 36 years and the opening of the Tula Digital Community Centre was a perfect time to reflect on the fact that this commitment is not only about business, but that HP is a long-standing corporate citizen of the country. The centre was then official opened as the representatives of the project partners — Didier Philippe, Owen Kemp, Avi Ganon, and Vladimir Arsentiev cut a red ribbon. The ribbon cutting was followed by the unveiling of plaques commemorating the opening of the ORT-HP Digital Community Centre in Tula and an acknowledgement of HPs contribution as main project donor. On behalf of ORT and HP, Avi Ganon and Owen Kemp then presented Vladimir Arsentiev with a decorative plaque for the Mayor of Tula recognizing and thanking the city administration for its contribution and hard work in making the Digital Community Centre a reality. The official part of the opening ceremony ended with the presentation of a large cake in the shape of an HP computer. The opening ceremony was widely covered by Tula press, which included major coverage on regional TV news. Five Moscow journalists were present for the opening. A follow up press conference was held in Moscow on the morning of May 25, attended by 30 journalists from leading Russian national press.