Obama, software firms team up

President Obama will announce Friday that two software firms have pledged more than $400 million worth of software for American classrooms during an appearance at the inaugural White House Film Festival.

Software maker Adobe will provide some $300 million in free copies of programs like Photoshop and Premiere Elements that will help students and educators complete digital creative projects. Prezi, a Hungarian software company, is providing $100 million in licenses for its professional presentation program.

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“We believe in the power of media creation as a way for youth to express their creativity and build their skills for future success,” said Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO of Adobe, in a statement. “We’re proud to contribute to the President’s ConnectED initiative, and look forward to seeing the benefits that our technology brings to both students and educators."

The pledged donations come on top of $750 million in private-sector commitments announced by Obama earlier this month. Those donations included classroom software, as well as Apple computers and tablets and Internet access for schools and libraries.

In a statement, the White House said the announcement was in keeping with Obama’s “pledge to make 2014 a year of action using the power of his pen and his phone."

In recent weeks, the president has looked to distance himself from Congress through partnerships with charities and businesses that do not require legislation. On Thursday, Obama announced $200 million in private donations to help philanthropic efforts benefiting young men of color. Earlier this year, more than 100 universities and 40 nonprofits pledged millions to support expanding college access for the nation’s poorest students.

Obama will make the announcement at a screening of YouTube videos created by students highlighting ways technology will aid in education efforts in the future. The White House, in collaboration with the American Film Institute, selected 16 videos from some 2,000 that were submitted. Celebrities including Kal Pen, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye and Conan O’Brien will help introduce the student videos, and attendees will also see the first episode of the relaunched Cosmos series set to debut later this year.