By Beau Yarbrough, The Sun
Posted: 05/27/14, 10:02 PM PDT | Updated: 12 secs ago

Redlands technology company Esri is pledging $1 billion to make its mapping software available for free to more than 100,000 public schools, the company president announced Tuesday.

Esri head Jack Dangermond made the announcement at the 2014 White House Science Fair Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1969, Esri sells geographic information system (GIS) software that enables clients to manipulate and visualize data. According to the company, their software is used by more than 350,000 organizations around the world, including the 200 largest cities in the United States, national governments, more than two-thirds of companies on the Fortune 500 list, and colleges and universities.

“Geographic Information System technology gives students powerful tools for understanding our planet, and teaches them to become problem solvers,” Dangermond is quoted as saying in a company press release. “It is a perfect complement to (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses and many other classroom activities, while preparing students for further education and expanding career opportunities in fields that can help better manage our world, build better lives for more people, and design a better future.”

More than 100,000 elementary, middle and high schools in the United States will have free access to mapping and data visualization software created by the company. Each ArcGIS online account is worth $10,000, according to the company.

Tuesday’s announcement is the culmination of Esri working with educators growing in scale in recent years, according to Charlie Fitzpatrick, the company’s education manager.

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