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Wayne Vance
Center on Congress at IU

Mike Marker

Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2007

Center on Congress at IU receives AT&T grant to develop online "Virtual Congress"

March 15, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Center on Congress at Indiana University has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation to support development of a pioneering, online educational resource called "Virtual Congress." The AT&T Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc.

Virtual Congress will use the latest in multi-player game technology to let students participate in an online Congress that functions very much like the real one -- with committees, floor action, amendments, back-and-forth discussions, input from constituents and the like.

"The AT&T Foundation grant helps us create an educational resource that will teach young people to understand Congress and the importance of listening to diverse viewpoints and working out acceptable compromises," said Lee Hamilton, director of the Center on Congress and a former member of Congress. "We are pleased to have the AT&T Foundation as a partner in our effort to make learning about Congress and civics an engaging, interactive adventure."

In Virtual Congress, players from across the country -- represented by three-dimensional online characters or "avatars" -- will hold the 535 House and Senate seats. The student-members of Virtual Congress will introduce bills and work online with others to try to move their proposals through the various stages of the legislative process.

"We at Indiana University are very grateful to the AT&T Foundation for its continuing support of the innovative programs in the Center on Congress," said Michael A. McRobbie, president-elect of the university and interim provost of the Bloomington campus. "The Center is fulfilling an important educational role, and we are proud that it is a part of this university. The support of the AT&T Foundation will enable us to continue to expand the center's academic mission."

In addition to the $100,000 grant being presented this year, the AT&T Foundation also provided the Center on Congress a $92,625 grant in 2005 to fund the creation of the center's Spanish-language Web site. The site features interactive, multimedia content, including audio and visual materials, designed to help Spanish speakers learn more about Congress and become more fully engaged participants in America's civic culture. The site is accessible via the Espanol link on

"AT&T is pleased to support the Center on Congress, and we applaud the staff for bringing these innovative educational resources to such a diverse audience," said George S. Fleetwood, president of AT&T Indiana. "Partnerships like this allow us to support initiatives that better lives and provide learning opportunities through technology."

About the Center

The Center on Congress is a non-partisan, educational institution established in 1999 to help improve the public's understanding of Congress and to encourage civic engagement.

The center developed out of Lee Hamilton's recognition during his 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives that the public should be more familiar with Congress' strengths and weaknesses, its role in our system of government, and its impact on the lives of ordinary people every day.

The center seeks to inspire young people and adults to take an active part in revitalizing representative government in America. To that end the Center offers an extensive array of civic education resources and activities, including: print publications; Web-based, interactive modules and other online learning tools in English and Spanish; commentaries for newspapers, radio stations, podcasts and a Web log; video and television in the classroom resources; survey research; teacher awards; and seminars, conferences, and a lecture series.

For more information, go to

About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. supports programs that strengthen communities; improve access to information technology and technology training; advance education; and enhance professional-skills development. In 2006, AT&T contributed more than $101 million through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs. AT&T AccessAll, the company's signature philanthropic initiative, is a $100 million program that connects families and communities with technology that can improve lives. AT&T and the AT&T Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AT&T, combine more than $1.8 billion of historic charitable commitment to communities across the country.