IT assistance

Database Development

El Centro de la Raza
VISTA Name: 
Mike Moore
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Initially, the Vista member focused on database development to increase the technological capacity and efficiency of El Centro de la Raza (ECLR). Starting from scratch, Mr. Moore was able to build a centralized demographics database based primarily on Microsoft Access. In order to accomplish this, he needed to analyze previous systems utilized by staff, troubleshoot, and develop solutions to migrate the infrastructure in a manner that staff could utilize effectively. After completing this task, he completed a manual detailing usage and offered informal trainings to staff. The Vista member was also asked to update other databases (donor, volunteer, and grant tracker databases) in order to improve the tracking and reporting capacity of staff. Mr. Moore was also asked to monitored the server, install standard organizational computer configurations, update other technological systems, assist with events, and other software duties as necessary.

Project Outcome: 

Throughout the service year, Mr. Moore showed a great deal of flexibility by taking on new tasks and meeting agency needs as well as those specifically involving the databases. He also showed his development capability by increasing the effectiveness of our databases, and helping our staff increase their reporting accuracy. Mr. Moore’s efforts led to the following successes:

1. Developed a new centralized demographics database to prevent duplication in reporting to major funders,
2. Increased the efficiency of the donor database,
3. Increased the accuracy of the grant tracker database,
4. Increased the accuracy and usability of the volunteer database,
5. Began to rebuild ECLR’s homepage,
6. Helped fulfill ECLR’s server needs in the absence of a part-time IT Manager, ­
7. Helped to install standard software packages on new ECLR hardware, and
8. Assisted staff with Microsoft Office problems.

Mike Moore came to El Centro de la Raza expecting to primarily customize an existing system, migrate data, tutor users and monitor data input. However, by the end of the first week, our staff realized his experience and capabilities were well suited for so much more. Mike quickly realized that the database El Centro proposed to utilize was difficult to tailor to our needs. Compounding the problem was an IT Staff that was difficult to reach and slow to respond. Mike projected that this customization and full utilization process would take close to the entire year simply to implement, no less train staff and begin to migrate data. This was time that our agency did not have, as major funders pressed us to improve our accuracy and develop unduplicated counts of individuals served. Mike recognized the immediacy of our needs, and proposed to build a database specifically customized to track demographic data in a format we could fully utilize. Working alongside staff members from a number of different departments, Mike noted each person’s need and a series of solutions to maximize the database’s efficiency and usability. On top of accomplishing other tasks associated with his placement (tutoring and modifying other databases), Mr. Moore was able to complete a workable system in just under five months. This left plenty of time to migrate data to the system and meet all of our deadlines.

CTC Support

VISTA Name: 
Kimmora McKinnie
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The anticipated outcome of this project is a functioning, responsive technology support service for TACT (Triangle Area Centers for Technology) that will assist technology centers which are primarily in low-income neighborhoods.

The purpose of TACT is to facilitate the introduction, use, and support of technology in community centers and schools in the Triangle area through partnerships that bring resources and needs together.

An anticipated by-product of TACT is the creation of technology support jobs in the community that provide a career path from entry-level jobs through various levels of support for technology center hardware and software to technical jobs in local companies.

The AmeriCorps VISTA will work with the technical support committee to plan and develop a working technology support group. They will also identify and document support services to be provided by the TACT technology support committee, develop an expertise list that the Help Desk will use to forward problems, develop lists of recommended hardware and software for technology centers, as well as installing and troubleshooting computer systems and providing routine maintenance.

Lab IT Coordinator

Media Arts Center San Diego
VISTA Name: 
Chris Anderson
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The Corps member would support the Lab Program Manager in developing and refining web-based systems to manage day-to-day operations and growth of the lab. This includes projects like implementing an inventory system for all computers and media equipment, managing current and procuring new equipment, and developing training manuals for all devices.

Project Outcome: 

Our DAS Corps (Christopher Anderson) has been an enormous help to the organization as a whole. A list of accomplishments so far: Lead an audit of the current technology and inventory required by lab Installed new video and projection equipment for workshop instruction Initiated policies and procedures for recruiting workshop instructors Developed database segments for marketing and reporting on workshops and programs Actively contributed insight and tested new ways to manage inventory relative to membership Began migration of current workshop recruitment processes to Google Docs Chris has also stepped up to help with other things as needed, including designing brochures and other print material for assisting in marketing our workshops. Much of this was working under the supervision of the Lab Program Manager and Executive Director and alongside our Technology and Production Manager and helpful volunteers.

Many of the documents that our DAS Corps has created are now part of our procedures for recruiting instructors as well as registering people for our workshops. A lot of it was much needed ‘behind the scenes’ work. Perhaps the biggest change is a growth in membership through our DAS Corp’s continued efforts directing people to the growing resources here at the center. Our DAS Corps has produced many documents, reports and forms to assist in the managing and organization of our lab operations. This is (and will be) an enormous help to our Lab Program Manager and general operations of the space as we gorw. This will allow the organization to recruit and sustain a pool of instructors in a much more strategic way. There is still some refinement on these systems as well as proper training in the crucial ‘beta testing’ which our DAS Corps has overseen in his time here so far.

We are still in the process of migrating our policies and procedures to the web as well as documenting and updating our curriculum used in our workshops and other programs. A big hold up has been our move to the new space and the intense growth of our staff, including adjusting to a new workspace this past year. Many staff have had to take on more work and ‘do a little bit of everything’ to keep our programs running while building our capacities. For the most part however, our DAS Corps has been sticking very well to the Activity Timelines of the Project as stated in his VAD.

Active Media Foundation

Urbana, IL

Software, website, and technical development in support of the global justice movement.

Transmission Project