The Lonestar Education And Research Network (LEARN) is a consortium of 43 organizations throughout Texas that includes public and private institutions of higher education, community colleges, the National Weather Service, and K–12 public schools. The consortium, organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, connects its members and over 300 affiliated organizations through high performance optical and IP network services to support their research, education, healthcare and public service missions. LEARN is also a leading member of a national community of advance research networks, providing Texas connectivity to national and international research and education networks, enabling cutting- edge research that is increasingly dependent upon sharing large volumes of electronic data.
LEARN will be the premier connector of the technology community for member institutions in Texas.
LEARN is to be the preferred partner for research and education networks and shared services within the research, education, healthcare, and public service communities in Texas.
In 2003, a series of meetings of research universities and health science centers in Texas were held to forge a shared vision of creating a unified high performance optical network for higher education that would partner with an emerging national network dedicated to research. Overcoming the legacy of competition among the attendees and the fiscal and organizational challenges that lay ahead, the universities and health science centers soon reached a consensus that it was strategically important to create an organization dedicated to high performance networking in Texas and to participate in the emerging national network.
In the fall of 2003, the nascent LEARN organization, realizing that it was imperative to have a legal structure around which to center its operations, decided to use the existing Houston-based Texas GigaPoP as the 501(c)(3) structure for the new statewide organization. The following January officers of the new organization were installed at its first Board meeting on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas with the new organization being officially named "LEARN: Lonestar Education And Research Network". Thus LEARN was officially created with a 30-member Board of Directors.
Also in the summer of 2003, the Texas Legislature endorsed the concept of providing an initial investment of $7.5 million dollars to construct the proposed optical network for Texas. That concept was fleshed out in 2004 as LEARN worked with the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House and the Department of Information Resources (DIR) to study the merit of authorizing a Texas Enterprise Fund grant for the optical network project. In the fall of that year, the elected leadership offices announced that the State of Texas would fund a TEF grant to provide the initial capital funds to acquire dark fiber and equipment or leased wavelengths for a "triangle" backbone connecting Dallas, College Station, Houston, San Antonio and Austin with additional connections to El Paso, Lubbock, Denton, Tyler/ Longview, Beaumont, Galveston and Corpus Christi.
On February 28, 2005, the Governor signed the TEF grant agreement to provide $7.28 million in funding for the optical network project. LEARN now had the organizational, political and financial means to begin deploying the optical network for Texas. Since its founding, LEARN has expanded both its membership and services. It now connects hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in higher education and in Texas' public schools. Over 600 organizations rely upon LEARN, either directly or indirectly through LEARN partners, for vital connectivity to local, statewide, national, and international network services.