The National Association of Webmasters

Press Release

October 7, 1997

For immediate release

 

Contact:

Bill Cullifer
Executive Director
National Association of Webmasters
[email protected]
(916) 929-6557
B.K. Delong
Director
The National Association of Webmasters
[email protected]
(916) 929-6557

Non-Profit Intends to Train Thousands of Student Webmasters
Association of Student Webmasters Passionate About Its Mission

Sacramento, CA-- October 7, 1997: The Association of Student Webmasters (ASW), founded earlier this summer as a subsidiary of the National Association of Webmasters, announced today that it has embraced training as its #1 priority. ASW's goal is to train student webmasters in grades K-12, colleges, vocational schools and universities, with a special focus on low-income "urban entrepreneurs" whenever possible. Organizations around the country as diverse as the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, DCI's Internet Expo, Seybold Seminars, and the City of New York have applauded ASW's focus, and several of them have offered to help. Bill Cullifer, Executive Director of the National Association of Webmasters (www.naw.org), explains why his organization is pursuing webmaster training with such fervor: "Several current conditions make this the perfect time for ASW and its mission: First, the Internet is changing the way we work, live, and learn; second, thousands of high-tech jobs are going begging while worry about finding good jobs is the number one concern of high-school students; third, budget cuts at all levels of government are forcing social welfare programs out of existence; fourth, President Clinton and Vice President Gore have initiated many programs to improve the nation's 'technology literacy' score, and one of their goals is to have every classroom in the country connected to the Internet by the year 2000. In our minds, the common theme in all of this is a burning need for broadly accessible webmaster training."

Last summer, even though he wasn't yet certain what its primary initiatives should be, Cullifer wanted to put together a high-profile launch for ASW to attract as much attention as possible in both the technology and education communities. He knew he would succeed when he received a call early in July from Nick Gleason, co-founder of CitySoft, a Boston-based for-profit Web development firm in its start up phase. CitySoft wanted to hire bright, motivated kids from low-income inner-city neighborhoods to produce reasonably priced websites for its clients and wondered if ASW could help with the training of its "urban entrepreneurs." ASW and CitySoft kicked off the first of their inner-city training programs at DCI Internet Expo in Boston, August 13th, which highlighted their shared commitment to high-tech education and community service and gave Cullifer the visibility he sought for ASW. The initiative was an immediate success and the first young people to receive training have already been hired into Web-related positions.

Cullifer cites the sources that support his assumptions: An article in a recent edition of USA Today noted that "the most common worry for older teens (ages 15-18) in 44 countries is 'getting a good job.' Percent concerned by region: Western Europe: 78%; Latin America: 78%; USA: 77%." He points out that their concern is justified. According to a recent study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), "U.S. industry is experiencing a critical shortage of Information Technology (IT) workers. This shortage threatens the growth and competitiveness of American companies and the quality and quantity of IT goods and services that consumers enjoy" (www.itaa.org/index.htm). ITAA will convene the first National Information Technology Workforce Convocation in January 1998, to come up with some remedies for the labor shortage. "For too long, we have depended on the U.S. University system alone to turn out adequate numbers of appropriately trained IT professionals," ITAA president Harris Miller told PC Magazine (October 1, 1997). "Now we realize that to get where we need to be, people must come into this industry from all walks of life." A joint study by Jupiter Communications, Jostens Learning Corp., and the American Association of School Administrators, reported that "less than 1% of children access the Internet from school, but 94% of teachers and superintendents believe the technology has improved learning. How they say computers have affected student motivation: Great improvement: 61%; Small improvement: 33%; No improvement: 4%; Don't know: 2%." "To me it's simple," says Cullifer, ticking off the benefits he expects to see coming out of ASW. "Training, mentoring and supporting young webmasters will (1) give young adults a ticket out of low-income neighborhoods, (2) speed up the rate at which students start to do meaningful work online in their classrooms, and (3) give more young people a shot at the 190,000 high-tech jobs that went begging last year in the United States alone. This isn't just a mission statement; it's a mission."

Cullifer wants companies, municipal governments, community organizations, schools, professional webmasters and other technologists, philanthropists and individuals interested in "connecting technology with real people" to join ASW and help mentor and support the student members. "We want the same people who volunteer for NetDay to join ASW," he says. NetDay (www.netday.org) is a grass-roots volunteer effort to wire schools, install computers, and connect them to the Internet. Organizers estimate that, since the first NetDay in 1996, more than NetDay volunteers in what's been called a "high-tech barnraising" have wired 150,000 K-12 classrooms. Labor and materials come from volunteers and support from companies, unions, parents, teachers, students, and school employees. The next NetDay will take place on October 25th and action plans are in place in most of the 50 states. "I'm confident that NetDay and similar efforts already underway will get the schools wired," says Cullifer. "One important part of ASW's mission is to make sure that there will be webmasters who know how to make all that gear into an essential component of the curriculum."

Cullifer is especially pleased with the support that's been rolling in for ASW and its parent, the National Association of Webmasters. "But," he says, "the Association is just the glue that holds it all together. The real work is being done by the students, the mentors and the corporate members. There's really no end to the amount of good we can do with this model." The Association of Student Webmasters is a subsidiary of the National Association of Webmasters, a non-profit trade association founded in 1996 by professionals with proven track records in education, data-processing, Internet consulting, telecommunications and marketing. The purpose of the Association is to support and enhance the role of individuals and organizations who create, manage or market web sites. NAW provides webmaster certification as well as other educational, technical, employment and member advantage services. The Association is located at 9580 Oak Avenue Parkway, Suite 7-177, Folsom, CA, 95630. Contact them online at www.naw.org or by telephone at (916) 929-6557.