Jim Goodnight, one of the world’s richest men and a strong advocate of education, is committing more money and resources to efforts to boost classroom learning.

At a speech Friday, Goodnight disclosed that is making available free of charge its educational software package available.

Addressing members of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Technology Committee at N.C. State, the SAS co-founder, chief executive officer and majority owner said SAS made the decision in an effort to improve education.

“Shrinking budgets and pricing structures should not stand in the way of America’s students receiving education technology that will engage them and better prepare them for today’s workforce,” Goodnight said.

SAS, the world’s largest privately held software company, is giving up more than $1 million in annual revenue and is prepared to absorb an as-yet undefined amount of cost as part of the effort, according to Bruce Friend, director of the Curriculum Pathways unit.

“We will be prepared to cover the additional costs of programming and support,” Friend told WRAL.com. “All our content is included, and we plan to build out more.”

A SAS spokesperson said Curriculum Pathways was generating $1.3 million a year in revenue. Once current contracts expire, users will no longer pay to use the software, the spokesperson said.

The SAS education unit already has some 40 people involved in instructional design and content creation, Friend noted. Many of those are former teachers.

SAS also offers professional development and training for fees, but Friend noted that in North Carolina SAS does not charge for regional training programs. There also is no training charged for schools that offer one-on-one instruction, he said.

“Over time,” he added , SAS would add resources and personnel as needed to support the program based on growth.

In his speech, Goodnight said Curriculum Pathways provides educators with tools to help excite children about learning.

“Today’s students communicate, learn and interact with the world through technology, yet we ask them to leave that behind when they enter a classroom,” he said. “Education has not changed, but this generation of kids has.

“They are bored and they are dropping out,” he added. “Online education is one way we can begin to adapt our educational systems to their needs.”

SAS has spent more than a decade developing and supporting Curriculum Pathways. It is used by thousands of teachers across 30 states.