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...UK charities and community groups invited to apply for 30 awards of £2,000 in support of innovative Internet projects...

AOL UK and the national charity Citizens Online today invited applications from charities and community groups across the UK for the third annual AOL Innovation in the Community Awards, aimed at encouraging innovative use of the Internet.

30 award packages, each consisting of £2,000 and a complimentary AOL Broadband Gold account (up to 1Mbps) for one year, are available in support of new or existing Internet projects in the voluntary sector. Organisations applying for the awards since the scheme launched in 2003 include community centres, disability charities, environmental groups, health organisations and youth projects.

Representatives of organisations interested in applying for an AOL Innovation in the Community Award can find full details of the scheme and download an application form at www.aol.co.uk/innovation. Alternatively, they can request an application pack by emailing ukinnovation@aol.com or calling the awards hotline on 020 7348 8390.

The closing date for applications is 6 June 2005 and a judging panel will select the 30 award recipients by early August. AOL UK and Citizens Online will host an awards ceremony for the 30 winning organisations in London in Autumn 2005.

John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, said: “We are delighted by the success of the first two years of the scheme as it goes to show how many exciting and innovative ideas charities and community groups are coming up with to engage with digital technology. It is always inspiring to hear about what is being planned and these awards provide an important opportunity for these projects to be put into practice.”

The AOL Innovation in the Community Awards have supported 60 projects since they launched in 2003, including a Web-based historical archive for Erskine care facility near Glasgow, an online environmental initiative run by the Forest Recycling Project in East London, and a crime prevention area on the Gloucester-based Brunswick Square Central Lawn Association community Web site. A full list of the 2003 and 2004 award recipients can be found at www.aol.co.uk/innovation.

Karen Thomson, Chairman and Chief Executive of AOL UK, commented: “The voluntary sector clearly recognises the potential of the Internet and the creativity and thought that goes into the award applications never fails to impress me. Charities and community groups are showing how online forums, video communications, broadband and other technologies can make a significant difference to people’s lives. It’s crucial that we support these grassroots projects and encourage digital inclusion across the UK.”

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“Winning the AOL award pushed us to go a bit further and we have already noticed what a huge difference the new-look Web site is making to the lives of our residents and the local community,” Sarah McNaught, Marketing Manager, Erskine – Bishopton, Scotland

“When we first started this project it was a simple case of ‘let’s get the Give or Take project online’. But now it’s a case of wanting to establish online versions of just about everything we do. The award has been a real catalyst and has really changed the way we do things for the better,” Lisa Donovan, Office Manager, Forest Recycling Project – Waltham Forest, London
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- Ends -

Notes to Editors:

For further information about the awards, as well as case studies or photographs of some of the previous award recipients, please contact:

Vicky Prior or Louise Tipton
AOL UK
020 7348 8093 / 020 7348 8096
VickyPriorUK@aol.com / LouiseTiptonUK@aol.com

About the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards

The AOL Innovation in the Community Awards were set up by AOL UK and the national charity Citizens Online in 2003 to encourage innovative use of the Internet among community groups and registered charities in the UK. The 2005 awards were launched on 21 March, with a closing date of 6 June 2005.

Full entry criteria and Terms and Conditions for the awards can be found at www.aol.co.uk/innovation and AOL Keyword: Innovation Awards. 30 awards to the value of £2,000 are available and will be payable by cheque. In addition, each winning organisation will receive a complimentary AOL Broadband Gold account (up to 1Mbps) for 12 months, subject to Terms and Conditions.

Representatives of organisations interested in applying for an AOL Innovation in the Community Award can download an application form at www.aol.co.uk/innovation. Alternatively, they can request a hard copy application pack by emailing ukinnovation@aol.com or calling the awards hotline on 020 7348 8390. Application packs are available in braille, audio, large print, and Welsh language versions.

The awards organisers require either a registered charity number from the Charity Commission in England, Scotland or Wales; a letter from the organisation’s local authority recognising it as a non-profit making organisation; or an Inland Revenue tax reference.

The judging panel will meet in July 2005. Shortlisted organisations will be contacted by the end of that month and may receive a visit from a representative of the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards. The 30 award recipients will be announced in early August 2005 and will be invited to attend a daytime awards ceremony in London in Autumn 2005.

About AOL UK

AOL is the leading online interactive services provider to the UK, with more than 2.3 million members, including more than 725,000 on AOL Broadband. AOL offers a range of online interactive services in the UK, including flat-rate, broadband and mobile, as well as unrivalled content and community for all the family.

AOL UK's Community Investment Programme seeks to extend the benefits of the online medium to those who would most benefit from it, but who are often the least likely to obtain access through traditional means. Priority areas are young people, particularly those outside of mainstream education, and people with disabilities. AOL UK is a founding member of the Alliance for Digital Inclusion.

About Citizens Online

Citizens Online is a national charity committed to closing the digital divide. It believes that members of the community should have access to ICT and the Internet to ensure they are socially included in all areas of today’s society.

Citizens Online’s work includes research projects analysing the ever increasing digital environment and its impact on society as a whole. As part of its ongoing involvement, Citizens Online works closely with the IT and Telecoms Industry and local and central government in both an advisory and lobbying capacity and the development of ongoing projects across the UK.


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