RAINBOW/PUSH DIGITAL CONNECTIONS CONFERENCE
SAN JOSE FAIRMONT HOTEL
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
APRIL 30, 2003
© Copyright 2003 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
This is actually the third time that I’ve had an opportunity to participate
in this conference and it is wonderful to be back. It is always special
to share a stage with the Reverend, but never more so than this year.
I’m sure most of you know this, but for those of you maybe who don’t,
this spring is the 40th anniversary of the day that Jesse Jackson led
his very first march against segregation, when he was a student at North
Carolina A&T University.
The Greeks once said that the greatest achievement one person can attain
is the full use of your talents along the lines of excellence. And in
the past 40 years, there are very few people who have used their talent
along lines of excellence to achieve more things for more people in more
places than Reverend Jackson. And we are all better off for his leadership.
I’d like to share a personal story with about Reverend Jackson…
Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a battle such as we were at HP,
you don’t realize how other people see that battle – you’re just focused
on doing what you have to do. And frankly, it got to the point where I
didn’t really want to read anything else about the battle, because reading
about it distracted me. But one day, I got a phone call from the Reverend,
and in the middle of everything else that he had going on, he called me
to say basically, “You hang in there, girl.” And he also called me to
pray. And that meant a lot to me.
But also in a funny kind of way, it suddenly made me realize just how
big a battle this really was. I hung up the phone and said, ‘Oh my God,
I’ve just been praying with the Reverend Jackson.’
There is also an old story that I’m reminded of whenever I come to this
event. It’s the story of a little boy who was pulling his wagon one day
when the back wheels fell off. And he looked at the wagon and said, “I’ll
be damned.” So, he put the wheels back on the wagon, he walked a little
further, and the wheels fell off again. And he said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”
This time there was a minister walking by and he overheard him. The
minister went up to the little boy and said, “Son, when something bad
happens to you, you shouldn’t curse. You should praise the Lord for all
the good things in your life.” So the boy nodded and put the wheels back
on and the two of them walked a little further. And sure enough, the
wheels fell off again.
This time, remembering what the reverend had said, the little boy said,
“Praise the Lord.” Sure enough, the two wheels turned on their side,
jumped up off the pavement and reattached themselves to the wagon.
And the minister took one look and said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Now I mention that story because it happens to be the same reaction you
get every time an under-served community starts to create jobs and create
businesses when it is given even the slightest chance to succeed. The
message of this conference, the message of this organization, is that
in every community in America, there is a hidden power just waiting to
be tapped…waiting to be unleashed…waiting to be discovered. And if we
can tap into that power, if we can help provide that opportunity, we will
take any community and we will take this country to places it has never
I am here today because at Hewlett-Packard, we believe that it is not
just the business of government to tap into that power; it is not just
the business of nonprofit organizations to tap into that power; it is
not just the business of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to tap into that power
– it is the business of business to tap into that power.
If we have learned anything in this economy, we have learned that opportunity
is not just good economic policy, it is good business. Inclusion isn’t
just good social policy, it is good business. Diversity isn’t just good
community policy, it is increasingly not only good business, but it is
what separates winners from losers in the marketplace.
There used to be a time when we could blame lack of opportunity on physical
things, like ‘the railroad doesn’t come through here,’ or ‘highways don’t
come through here.’ But the trade routes of the information age run through
every city, every town, every community in America. We no longer have
an excuse to leave people and communities behind.
For too many years, it has been too easy to assume that just because
people didn’t have opportunity, they didn’t have talent. What the digital
age is helping to prove – what all of you are helping to prove – is that
those assumptions and those ugly stigmas are wrong. Not only does every
single person have the potential to lead and make a difference inside
them, but the right use of technology can help unlock that potential and
create opportunities for everyone.
Three years ago, I was honored to come to a stage like this as keynote
speaker for the very first Silicon Valley Digital Connections Conference.
And on that day, for those of you who were there, I said the time for
talking was over. As a community, business needed to move beyond rhetoric
and match our good intentions with equally good commitments. I announced
on that day that HP was kicking off a campaign to help close the gap between
technology-enabled communities and technology-excluded communities.
We called our campaign e-inclusion, and I announced that we would begin
the campaign with a commitment of $5 million per community.
While the money represented an important part of that campaign, even
more, we also built off of a lesson that Rainbow/PUSH has helped teach
us all: that financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth we can
bring to under-served communities. It is also human capital. It is experience
and knowledge, and the ability to translate that into capacity building.
As part of our campaign, we announced that we would be committing that
human capital by putting teams of our best and brightest employees on
the ground in different communities for a period of up to three years,
to work with local citizens to set goals and create solutions for the
challenges that the community prizes – and then work together to help
get them done.
We called these communities “digital villages,” and we figured that the
perfect candidate for our very first digital village was right here in
our own back yard, in East Palo Alto. We started here among other reasons,
because we didn’t think it was right for the technology boom that was
happening in Silicon Valley to pass by our neighbor in East Palo Alto.
Now if you’ve met people of East Palo Alto, and a number of them are
here, you know why we had such faith…that with even a glimmer of opportunity,
they could accomplish great things. And if you have met the person that
we put in charge of running this campaign, you know why I had so much
faith in HP’s ability to help get the job done.
I want to introduce Janiece Evans Page, who has led our efforts in Palo
Alto, and I am here to tell you that neither Janiece nor the people of
East Palo Alto have let us down. I’m also very proud to tell you that
the Reverend honored us with his presence there yesterday, as we celebrated
the third anniversary of the East Palo Alto Digital Village. It is an
anniversary that East Palo Alto hasn’t just celebrated with cakes and
balloons, more important, it is an anniversary they have celebrated by
creating more jobs and more businesses.
So let me brag a little bit about what East Palo Alto and Janiece have
Working with Butch Wing and Rainbow/PUSH, the people of East Palo Alto
have taken the HP commitment and created a small business development
initiative. It is managed by the visionaries at a non-profit organization
From a small business base that was sitting completely untapped three
years ago, they have worked with more than 100 businesses, created more
than 150 jobs, and generated almost $3 million in revenue the past two
I spent some time in East Palo Alto last summer with local businesses,
and some of my favorite comments came from small business owners. For
example, “Technology has given me the ability to come across as a professional
business – printing invoices and business cards – and nobody knows that
I’m running the business from my own kitchen table.”
That’s what we mean when we say technology can help leapfrog months or
even years of development. It is not about talent; the talent is there.
It is about opportunity.
The people of East Palo Alto also took the HP commitment and targeted
it towards schools. At one school, Belle Haven Elementary, that meant
400 laptop computers to kids in grades four through eight. Not only did
they – with our help – work to train teachers, they worked to train parents,
as well. And for me, the proof point comes at recess time, when I’m told
it’s not an uncommon site to walk through the school yard and see kids
sitting on the curb with jackets over their heads. Not to hide from other
students, but to hide from the glare of the sun so they can work on their
It is not about talent; the talent is there. It is about opportunity.
Travel a little bit across town to East San Jose, and you can see what
technology grants helped students do. Downtown College Prep is a school
that targets the children of immigrants with “D” and “F” averages who
don’t speak English as a first language. And the sole intention of this
institution is to prepare these kids for college.
In just two years’ time, the use of information technology has helped
the average grade point average jump by nearly a point, and the average
reading level jump by three grades.
It is not about talent; the talent is there. It is about opportunity.
The people of East Palo Alto have also taken the HP commitment, worked
with Plugged-In, One East Palo Alto, and all the digital village lead
organizations – including Rainbow/PUSH – and created an online resource
center that provides East Palo Alto residents and organizations with information
about the community and the city.
And to help people access this information, they have created three safe
and easy-to-get-to, welcoming technology access points, where local residents
can learn how to use computers and access the Internet, receiving online
health and other relevant information. Community leaders took it one step
further in providing technology tools to more than 30 small, nonprofit
organizations that had limited access to technology, and now they are
providing even more services through the Web.
It is not about talent; the talent is there. It is about opportunity.
And now, the community is working to create a community academy with
state-of-the-art employment and skills training, and to build on the projects
begun over the past three years to give even more local residents access
to the social and economic and technological opportunities in the digital
Now, it’s important to understand that this is not imported success.
This is not imposed success. The progress we have seen the past two years
in East Palo Alto is home-grown, bottom-up, grassroots progress.
We at HP may have added fuel to the dream, but the dream started with
the people of that community. And now, what we see is a community more
empowered by the desire to create a brighter future for itself – and that
is what sustainable development is all about.
Now from our perspective, we get as much out of this as anyone else.
And one of the things we’ve gotten out of this learning from East Palo
Alto is that it has allowed us to take that same model to two other cities.
First in East Baltimore, and second with a tribal council made up of 18
Native American villages in San Diego. And each of those communities came
with the same $5 million commitment, as well as the resources, the talent,
and the backing of our entire company.
In East Baltimore, you can visit their new computer hub based in the
Great Blacks in Wax museum, which not only provides basic computer training
and educational opportunities like GED prep, but it also provides a unique
link to African-American history.
And at five schools, teachers are now using laptop computers in their
classrooms, which is a big deal in East Baltimore.
In San Diego, one of our goals was to build a wireless backbone to provide
high-speed access to all 18 tribes to allow them to communicate. When
we started working there, there was no technical expertise in the community,
but from the beginning, there were three guys in their early-20s, who
knew nothing about wireless technology or computing – but they knew what
they wanted to do, and they had been hungry for knowledge. So, in working
with mentors, these three guys have built almost the entire network.
And so now, technology is literally a bridge between these tribes, rather
than a divide. Once a week, kids from the Native American community actually
do live video conferencing between the community resource centers and
mentors at UC San Diego, who help the kids do their homework.
Once again, it is not about talent, it is not about lack of ambition.
The talent is there; the ambition is there. It is about opportunity.
The learning we’ve done with Rainbow/PUSH and the citizens in these three
digital villages has helped us in applying our resources elsewhere. And
today, for instance, we’ve used the experience that’s come up out of Startup
in East Palo Alto and we’ve taken a page out of the Rainbow/PUSH handbook
to launch a micro-enterprise development initiative. Our goal is to partner
with micro-enterprise development agencies around the country to expand
their capacity, and to help provide technology and training to local entrepreneurs.
When we announced this program, we expected we’d get about 100 applications
– we got more than 500. And among the nine grant winners in this first
round, I’m pleased to say that one is a local winner, the Renaissance
Center in Bay View’s Hunter’s Point.
We are also working with the Magic Johnson Foundation to bridge the digital
divide by bringing resources and training to even more under-served communities.
Together we’ve supported the development and implementation of 11 Magic
Johnson innovation centers in communities from Los Angeles to Washington,
to Atlanta, with more in the year to come.
And together with Butch Wing and the staff here at Rainbow/PUSH, we are
now working to build on the terrific 1000-Churches Initiative that Rainbow
launched in 2001. And this time, instead of focusing on money management,
we are working to bring technology access centers to church basements
across the country, to bring resources and equipment, to give people access
to the tools of this modern age in some of the safest and most welcoming
environments in their lives.
Our experience at these three digital villages that I talked about is
also allowing us to take this learning further. Now, we’re developing
next-generation digital villages in India, in South Africa and in Houston,
Texas – where we’re working with local residents and governments and NGOs
to create scaleable, sustainable, replicable models of development. And
we call this next generation I-Communities.
In South Africa last summer, President Mbeki helped us launch our new
I-Community there, and I had an experience that I will never forget.
I was visiting a community center that HP had helped build, and I came
upon an older man who was sitting at a computer. He had been surfing
the Internet for the first time in his life, and his hands were literally
trembling with excitement. I asked him why he seemed so moved by the experience.
I just knew he was going to tell me about the incredible technology –
its design, its capabilities. That isn’t what he told me. Instead, he
said, “Looking into this screen, I see a world that I never knew existed.”
And I realized that the trip he was taking for the very first time was
allowing him to travel across continents, and see the wider world around
him. He was literally seeing the world for the first time.
And in a larger sense, that same kind of journey – whether it’s applied
to tele-medicine, or distance learning, or e-commerce – that is the journey
that our technology makes possible. And providing that opportunity isn’t
up to any one of us, it is up to all of us. Now, while we seek to lead
in communities around the world, we realize that leadership must begin
in our own community and our own company first.
Over the past three years, HP has been proud to provide e-inclusion-related
grants to nearly 30 local partners. In addition to being a sponsor of
this conference every year, we are also delighted to work with so many
organizations that are doing such great work for our community. From
the Bay Area Urban League and Bay Area Black Fund, to the Thurgood Marshall
Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility,
the Les Brown Youth Conference, the National Black Women’s Health Project,
And, as a company with employees in 160 countries around the world, and
a presence in every major community in America, we understand the importance
of diversity and the link to our business success.
Our commitment to not just to the community, but to our workplace and
to the marketplace around the world; and of course, while we celebrate
great progress, we also know we have a long way to go. But fundamentally,
this is an issue of enlightened self-interest. As a company with the
word “invent” in our logo, we know that diversity drives creativity, creativity
drives invention, and invention for us drives profitability, growth and
To other companies who are thinking about getting involved, we join Rainbow/PUSH
in saying: just do it. First of all, because it’s the right thing to do
– because our economy and our world are made stronger when all voices
are heard, and diversity is given a chance to succeed.
And second, because it’s the smart thing to do; your success is our success.
Because somebody you helped to help themselves today, may very well be
your partner or your customer, or your very best employee – tomorrow.
Frankly, if we look beyond the next quarter or two, particularly for
an industry like high-tech, where today only 10 percent of the world can
afford to buy our products, we have to acknowledge that many of the ideas,
the people, the markets of the future will come from under-served communities.
The truth is that there has never been a time when it was more obvious
than today that doing the right thing also means doing the smart business
Nearly 20 years ago, Reverend Jackson said that no generation can choose
the age or circumstance in which it is born. But through leadership,
it can choose to make the age in which it is born, an age of enlightenment,
an age of jobs, peace, and justice. And together I believe we can help
make the age of information the age of enlightenment for everyone. We
know it is not a question of talent; the talent is there. It is a question
And so today, three years later, I pledge to you that at Hewlett-Packard
we will continue to do all that we can to provide the opportunities, so
that we can take advantage of that talent…so that we can help develop
that talent…so that we can create opportunities to turn that wonderful
goal that Reverend Jackson spoke of 20 years ago, into reality.
Thank you very much.