NetDay (1995–2004) was an event established in 1995 that "called on high-tech companies to commit resources to schools, libraries, and clinics worldwide so that they could connect to the Internet". It was developed by John Gage (then-chief science officer at Sun Microsystems) and activist Michael Kaufman. The first official NetDay was held in 1996.
In 2005, NetDay merged with Project Tomorrow (tomorrow.org), a California nonprofit involved with math and science education. The organization is continuing to work with schools to improve the use of technology in education.
NetDay was established to take place over the course of one Saturday, whereby designated schools would receive full connection to the Internet. Activities were coordinated at the website netday.org. The HTML Writers Guild (quoting the NetDay FAQ) defined the day as an:
|“||historic grassroots effort in the classic American barn-raising tradition. Using volunteer labor, our goal is to install all the basic wiring needed to make five classrooms and a library or a computer lab in every school Internet-ready. If the same work were financed by taxpayers, it would cost more than $1,000 per classroom. Volunteers from businesses, education, and the community will acquire all of the equipment and will install and test it at every school site. Your support and participation is crucial to our success. In addition, by bringing together these diverse elements, NetDay establishes a framework for lasting partnerships among business, government, educational institutions, and local communities to provide ongoing support for our schools.||”|
Some argued that access to the Internet should not be a priority when schools lack even basic resources like library books (although in many cases the project added needed materials and efforts to computing projects already underway).
The first NetDay was held on March 9, 1996. NetDay '96 created considerable excitement amongst participating schools. The day was organized via the website netday96.com. 20,000 volunteers helped to wire 20 percent of California schools to the Internet. 2,500 wiring kits were donated by telephone companies. Of the event, John Gage commented, "NetDay96 is a demonstration of what can happen when people coalesce around a community project [...] In one day, we can begin to reverse California's abysmal record of putting technology into its classrooms."
President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were also involved with NetDay '96, spending the day at Ygnacio Valley High School, as part of the drive to connect California public schools to the Internet. In a speech given at YVH, Clinton stated that he was excited to see that his challenge the previous September to "Californians to connect at least 20 percent of your schools to the Information Superhighway by the end of this school year" was met. Clinton also described this event as part of a time of "absolutely astonishing transformation; a moment of great possibility. All of you know that the information and technology explosion will offer to you and to the young people of the future more opportunities and challenges than any generation of Americans has ever seen". In a prepared statement, Gore added that NetDay was part of one of the major goals of the Clinton administration, which was "to give every child in America access to high quality educational technology by the dawn of the new century." Gore also stated that the administration planned "to connect every classroom to the Internet by the year 2000". On April 28, 1998, Gore honored numerous volunteers who had been involved with NetDay and "who helped connect students to the Internet in 700 of the poorest schools in the country" via "an interactive online session with children across the country."
- Olsen, Stephanie (June 9, 2008). "Sun's John Gage joins Al Gore in clean-tech investing". Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Clinton, Bill. "Remarks by the President to the Concord Community on NetDay: Ygnacio Valley High School, Concord, California". Clinton Foundation. Archived from the original on May 12, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- "Project Tomorrow: NetDay". Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- "NetDay and the HWG". September 12, 1998. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Laura Lindhe (March 12, 1996). "SF State plugs into NetDay". Golden Gater. San Francisco State University Department of Journalism. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Rubenstein, Steve (March 9, 1996). "Clinton, Gore in Concord Today for NetDay: 20,000 volunteers wire computers at California schools". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Gore, Al (1997). "Statement by the Vice President about Netday". Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Press Release (April 28, 1998). "GORE, RILEY AND KENNARD HONOR NETDAY VOLUNTEERS ANNOUNCE GUIDE TO ONLINE MENTORING, COMPUTER DONATIONS". US Education Department Press Releases. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
- Business Wire. "Quantum supports Milpitas High School as part of statewide NetDay '96 initiative; volunteer time and hard disk drives donated to bring school on-line", March 7, 1996.
- Clinton, Bill and Al Gore. "President Clinton and Vice President Gore Participate in NetDay". April 19, 1997.
- Clinton Presidential Library, "NetDay '96 Speeches at Ygnacio Valley High School, Concord, California", March 9, 1996.
- Cronin, Caitlin. "Same Approach, Different Contexts:Exploring the International Impact of NetDay." AARE Conference, Adelaide 1998.
- Dornin, Rusty. "2,000 California schools get wired Net Day connects students to cyberspace." CNN, March 9, 1996.
- Purdum, Todd. "Pursuing a Theme, Clinton Helps Schools Go On-Line." New York Times, March 10, 1996.
- Rubenstein, Steve (March 9, 1996). "Clinton, Gore in Concord Today for NetDay: 20,000 volunteers wire computers at California schools". San Francisco Chronicle.