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One of the first programs of its kind, the Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI) began promoting high-quality campus computing in the summer of 1997. Under the leadership of the late Chancellor Michael Hooker, CCI was developed to ensure that Carolina students, faculty and staff have easy access to high-quality and affordable technology and be able to use it effectively.

At the center of the initiative is the requirement that undergraduates at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill own laptop computers that meet University specifications. Since 2000, when the undergraduate laptop requirement was implemented, more than 60,000 Carolina students have chosen to fulfill this requirement by purchasing one of the CCI laptop packages. This consistently high rate of adoption of CCI laptops by undergraduate students has ensured that all undergraduates have equal access to a minimum level of technology and that instructors are able to incorporate this technology into their required coursework.

A key component of ensuring this equal access is the commitment of funds to assist undergraduate students in the purchase of a CCI laptop package. Laptop grants, good toward the purchase of a CCI laptop package, are awarded to first time undergraduate students at UNC Chapel based on demonstrated financial need. Every first year undergraduate student receiving need-based financial aid has received a laptop grant which covered up to the full cost of the laptop package since the program began in 2000.

In addition to serving undergraduate students, the CCI program has equipped faculty and staff with the same technology that the students own. Since 1997 more than 15,000 computers have been provided to teaching faculty members, instructors and academic support staff in the College of Arts & Sciences. Thus ensuring that faculty, staff and students are all working with equivalent, high quality technology. In several instances this has resulted in the restructuring and improvement of how courses are conducted and curriculums delivered.