Tech Philanthropy

Microsoft Awards $3.4 Million Technology Grant to New England Center for Children

Microsoft has donated $3.4 million in software and services to the New England Center for Children (NECC), an institute that provides education and research for children with autism. The grant will be used to update the center’s technology infrastructure, with goals toward improving communications, data storage and reliability.

“The New England Center for Children is honored to be a recipient of Microsoft’s generous philanthropic gift of industry-leading software,” said Vincent Strully, Jr., founder and CEO of the NECC, in a prepared statement. “Microsoft’s donation allows us to maximize our resources and provide our students with the innovative programs, facilities and materials they need to thrive.”

“The New England Center for Children performs a critically important role in educating children with autism and Microsoft is delighted to provide our technology to help in the center’s mission,” said Robert Davy, general manager of Microsoft, in a prepared statement. “Through Microsoft Philanthropies, we’re investing Microsoft’s strongest assets to drive greater inclusion and empowerment of people who may not have access to technology and the opportunities it offers and enables.”

A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit based in Southborough, MA, the NECC built its core computing infrastructure on Windows technology in order to provide a dynamic and immersive technology experience for both staff and students. With Microsoft’s gift, NECC plans to upgrade to newer, more robust versions of Exchange, SQL and Windows Server. All staff and student computing devices will be upgraded to Windows 10 in an effort to provide a secure, flexible and unified end user experience.

Also with this donation, NECC will be able to streamline data collection for its Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia (ACE) program that all 800 teachers at NECC use while working one-on-one with their students. The ACE is a web-based toolkit which provides an interactive interface containing assessment tools, lesson plans, teaching materials and student performance reports for more than 1,300 skills drawn from the curriculum used at NECC. ACE is used by more than 4,700 users in 24 states and nine foreign countries, according to a news release.

“Many of our students use technology to learn, to interact with the world around them and even to simply communicate,” said Beth Bellone, director of speech and language services at NECC, in a prepared statement. “A percentage of our student population is non-verbal, and with the use of technology, they can ask for what they need or communicate how they are feeling.”

NECC provides its teaching staff with Surface tablets to facilitate teaching, administrative and data collection functions. NECC’s services include home-based, day and residential programs; public school partnerships and consulting; autism research programs; and the ACE curriculum software.

In addition to its Southborough headquarters, NECC also operates a center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].