America Online Chairman and CEO Steve Case, who initiated the project along with former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell, said, "lots of people are benefiting from [the Internet] in many ways but there's a lot who are left behind. We want to deal with that."
Case said the goal of the program is to connect everybody over the Internet and build on the Web sites that already exist.
"We want to shine a spotlight on the digital divide," Case said, "and build a national crusade so that everybody can be connected in this new world."
He said Gateway is donating 50,000 computers and AOL is donating 100,000 accounts to make this a national priority.
Powell, who heads "America's Promise" Â— a program dedicated to aiding America's youth Â— said the new initiative will introduce "thousands upon thousands to the information age and to the world of the Internet."
"We're striking a blow against digital apartheid," Powell continued, "and I want to congratulate Mr. Case and all the other partners who have joined with "America's Promise" to put "PowerUP" into being."
The two agreed that the Internet has already changed millions of lives by changing the way people get information. They said jobs in the future will require an understanding of the Internet and the new program will ensure youngsters don't get left behind.
Case and Powell said they would like to "scale up" the project as rapidly as resources become available over the next few years.