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PowerUp powers down tech for all

A 3-year-old program dedicated to narrowing the high-tech digital divide shuts its doors as corporate backers think twice about opening their wallets.

    PowerUp, a 3-year-old program aimed at narrowing the high-tech digital divide, has shut its doors as its corporate backers reassess their philanthropic efforts in a weak economy.

    The project, which was supported by technology industry bigwigs including AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case and Gateway founder Ted Waitt, brought millions of dollars worth of computer equipment to schools and community centers across the United States.

    The organization donated machines to thousands of community centers and computer labs, attracting support from Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Rep. Charles Pickering, R-Miss., who pushed for federal money to fund workers at the centers. It also sponsored mentoring programs that offered students a chance to see how technology can change people's lives.

    PowerUp officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the program?s closure.

    Stephen Ronan, managing director of Community Technology Centers' Network, which operated some of the projects in conjunction with PowerUp, said existing centers shouldn't be affected by the closure. He said PowerUp's main focus was providing computers and getting the projects up and running so community-based groups could take over. However, the community centers will need to turn elsewhere when it's time to upgrade their equipment.