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WSU to Administer Gates Foundation’s Community Access to Technology Program

WSU Center to Bridge the Digital Divide to build statewide network to ensure long-term sustainability for community technology initiatives

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Denny Fleenor
Washington State University, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences
Phone: 206.972.8590

SEATTLE -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that the Washington State University Extension Center to Bridge the Digital Divide (CBDD) will now administer its Community Access to Technology (CAT). Transfer of the program will provide long-term sustainability for community technology initiatives in Washington and create a statewide network of community technology organizations. The shift represents the successful completion of foundation-led grants through CAT and a new era of partnerships to ensure that communities across the state benefit from advances in technology.

The foundation launched the CAT program in 1999 to help Washington nonprofit organizations provide local communities greater access to digital technology. The focus of the CAT program has been on supporting organizations that help at-risk youth, persons with disabilities, homeless persons, immigrant populations, Native Americans and rural communities to use technology to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities.

Over the past five years, the foundation has granted $14 million to Washington state nonprofit organizations through its CAT program. To date, more than 78,400 people have been served through 330 CAT sites.

The program will now be known as Communities Connect, to emphasize the efforts to bring together community technology interests from across the state.

“This program’s shift to WSU represents an important milestone in the Gates Foundation’s efforts to promote meaningful technology access to all residents of Washington,” said Ken Thompson, program officer from the foundation. “The CBDD is uniquely equipped to evolve this program from a private grantmaking initiative to a self-sustaining network for community-based technology in Washington.” 

“The CBDD was established to create partnerships and provide educational outreach to expand technology access for underserved populations in our state,” said Dr. Bill Gillis, the center’s director. “We’re grateful to the Gates Foundation for providing our state with more than $14 million in targeted grants for nonprofit organizations to expand technology resources for their communities. Our collective challenge now is to build on this heritage of private giving and create a sustainable network of community partners for this state in the years and decades to come.”

Communities Connect will award up to $3 million in multi-year grants in 2005. This will be the final round of community technology grants made through foundation support.

The CBDD will announce granting guidelines in April. Information about the program and guidelines for applying for funding can be found at


Washington State University Center to Bridge the Digital Divide facilitates collaborative partnerships and provides educational outreach within Washington state, the United States and selected international regions. The CBDD also conducts research and provides policy guidance resulting in expanded application of telecommunications and information technologies among underserved populations to achieve desired goals.

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