The VISTA position will continue to emphasize hardware and basic skills training and as well develop specific content and workshops to train residents in information literacy in accessing, evaluating, and applying information found either on the web or in traditional sources such as a library.
The Vista Volunteer worked with the Center’s director to develop procedures to track new members: We created forms to assist us in our tracking of new members, daily visitors, what users do at PIC@MPV, help desk request, and new wireless card recipients. Tracking this information is valuable when writing grants.
To achieve consistent and uniform services, Patrick also wrote manuals covering standard office practices and policy and procedures.
In order for us to provide local residents with free internet through our wireless infrastructure and access to help desk support; our Vista worked to follow-up on an established collaborative with Wentworth Institute of Technology to secure students interns for our site. Students were paid through the work study program. A win-win for all of us!
Goal 1: Increase Community groups served from 25 to 100
Goal 2: Increase & Improve UMASS Lowell / community anti-poverty community groups
Goal 3: Make it much easier for non techs to update and create web pages.
Goal 4: Create effective system for fund raising through grants
Goal 5: Increase number of effective volunteers from (3) per year to (5) by evaluating potential volunteers more carefully and providing more formal training to new volunteers.
John is a big part of our growth from 25 to 35 organizations.
Three program directors have told me almost exactly: “Without John, I wouldn’t have learned how to update my websie.”
The VISTA member was directed to provide additional resources for our online resource listing, expand the Cyber Cafe Mentor program and coordinate its offshoot, the Gateway Program (for people coming out of homelessness) through recruitment and training of volunteers, continue existing collaborations with internal and external organizations serving our population, and, if possible, expand the list of organizations with which we can collaborate (expand our list of possible collaborations; we would do the followup).
The VISTA was active in having the Cyber Café become a full VITA(Volunteer Income Tax Assistant) site, successfully passing an IRS review. The VISTA was helpful in finding and bringing together resources for users of the Cyber Café and developing our educational resources.
Goal 1: To reorganize our existing CTC into a community information and networking center to benefit neighborhood residents and resource people.
Goal 2: To increase volunteer and program capacity to provide after-school and weekend assistance to students, adults, and organizations seeking training, information technology access, homework help, and job seeking assistance.
Goal 3: To expand the capacity of the Parsells CTC to serve adults and children with varied disabilities, the CTC will increase its resources to adapt the lab to a wide range of learners and users.
Goal 4: Each VISTA worker will work to increase creative educational alternatives for persons with different learning styles, preferences, and needs by offering digital storytelling, photo editing, website development, and other options accessible for all children, youth, and adults who use the computer CTC.
Marcia worked during the year to reorganize the task force/coordinating board of the Parsells and Denver Computer Technology Center. She also coordinated with the Academy for Career Development, which provided computer software, support, and long-distance learning classes for neighborhood adults in basic computer skills. Marcia took several classes herself through the Academy to upgrade her skills and improve her ability to find volunteers for the center. Marcia worked throughout the year with neighborhood groups developing a website based on the needs of these groups, preparing a listserv for the community group, and working to improve communication among various committees and services in the community. Marcia attended meetings of the Youth/Adult Partnership grant, a capacity-building youth-serving grant from NY State, which worked to bring neighborhood groups together and work on youth-chosen activities. Marcia recruited, trained, scheduled, monitored, and evaluated volunteers for the CTC lab. Marcia worked with church members and other volunteers to maintain and expand outreach services to neighborhood youth and adults. Marcia worked on One Voice/One Vision.
Marcia worked with the local neighborhood organization, the Beechwood Organization, to set up a website and improve communication between individuals in the organization and members of the community. She sought input from various parts of the neighborhood and communicated effectively with the web designer and the president of the organization. She was always positive and friendly to the youth who attended the CTC lab. She was also encouraging to volunteers and supporters.
The STAR Center’s VISTA project for community organizing and development has been successful. Denise Meise has been a very valuable addition. Ms. Meise took on the duties of recruiting, coordinating, and recognizing volunteers.
Denise worked closely with the STAR Center staff, clients, stakeholders, and volunteers to update our volunteer handbook, develop a list of volunteer opportunities, and revise our procedures and processes for volunteers. She helped plan and host a volunteer appreciation luncheon for over 300 guests in October 2006. During the holidays Denise assisted as we thanked our supporters with fruit baskets and homemade fudge that our volunteers made. In addition to her coordination of the volunteer program, Mrs. Meise also took an active role in the Development/Fundraising department. She assisted with three summer fundraisers which will gave her the opportunity to be involved with all aspects of planning and executing an event for up to 8,000 participants. Ms. Meise was involved with the filming of the new STAR Center video and was able to see the process from conception to finished product. At the end of her first year of service Mrs. Meise became a VISTA leader as part of the STAR Center’s new Building Together VISTA project.
For our annual KidsFest Event Mrs. Meise recruited over 300 special event volunteers who provided an additional 920 hours of volunteer service. They assisted with the set-up, execution, and break down of the event. Through the volunteers efforts the STAR Center was able to raise over $65,000 and hold a fun family event for our community.
• Increase the sustainability of the Café through the development of a systematic volunteer recruitment approach and support mechanisms (orientation, job descriptions, training, reward system, etc.), so that it will continue to grow and thrive as a key resource for low-income persons to develop skills and gain access to technology.
• Public and private sector resources will enable the project to continue after the VISTA member leaves. MATV/CTAC currently maintains a number of relationships with community agencies, volunteers, and businesses. MATV/CTAC will maintain any new relationships the VISTA member develops that support the long-term success of this project. This will include coordinating the VISTA member’s activities in relation to these groups’ programs and participation in the project.
Neil has developed and is now using a volunteer orientation & training guide. He has also recruited 15 new volunteers for facility coverage, mentoring, and instruction. Neil worked with 2 volunteers to work on an internal member database and developed a system for volunteer scheduling and retention.
Neil identified low-cost, effective volunteer rewards. Neil awarded gift certificates to some volunteers and incorporated Cyber Café volunteers into MATV volunteer appreciation party.
Neil also taught basic courses in order to assure coverage. He installed a database and instituted its use.
Neil has also worked with CATC members and MATV staff & volunteers to achieve his second goal.
This has been an exciting year for our CTCNet VISTA here at the Durham Literacy Center. Previous VISTAs have laid the framework for the progress that Brian Russell, this year’s VISTA, has made to date. Overall, the VISTAs role is to (1) serve as technology integration specialist and oversee learning offerings, including: PC Basics, ABE, GED, ESOL, Family Literacy and Career Passport; (2) provide web page maintenance and enhancement; and (3) develop technology volunteer plan.
The VISTA was responsible for maintaining and upgrading all of our agency’s computers and labs in addition to assisting in making agency-wide decisions as they pertained to technology. By recruiting and supporting technical volunteers, Brian effectively juggled all of his duties. Our VISTA provided excellent leadership as the co-chair of our ad-hoc tech committee and guided us through many important decisions regarding infrastructure, training and outreach. Please see the 04-05 VISTA’s web-blog for details of some of the projects he worked on: http://www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/blog/brian_russell/. However, only a few of his accomplishments are listed on his web log - the rest are highlighted below.
The www.durhamliteracy.org Website
The VISTA provided superb research, advice, set-up, development and, ultimately, training to the full staff team on our new website. After research, the VISTA recommended that we use a program called Civicspace.org, freeware with customizable authoring privileges and a straightforward authoring interface. The new website has already attracted funders, individual donations, a multitude of volunteers and strengthened interaction with all of our stakeholders. Each staff member has a blog and the ability to update content. After the VISTA trained the staff on the basics of the webpage and setting policy, many staff have mastered the basics and have set up more features such as discussion forums for volunteers, calendaring and soon-to-be online forms.
IBM Grant Management
As a beta testing site during this past fiscal year, Durham Literacy Center (DLC) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) introduced the “Reading Recognition” program to approximately 130 students. While there are still some rough spots in the early version of the application, many students indicated that “Reading Recognition” helped them improve their pronunciation, listening and reading.
The VISTA coordinated volunteers to install 3 new computer labs at DLC and its partner-sites. Work included installing software and setup on servers and clients, hardware setup. The VISTA was instrumental in training staff, partners and end users on using the new computer lab and software.
Agency Policy Development
The VISTA effectively researched and gained buy-in by staff and management on best practices for creating policies and procedures appropriate for a non-profit like the Durham Literacy Center. The VISTA identified sample policies from other non-profits and counseled the management on policies to adopt. These policies include, but are not limited to the following:
• Providing donations to partner agencies
• Laptop loans
• Use of the computer lab
• Website content and authoring
The Teen Career Academy
The Teen Career Academy and the Duke Research Service Learning Project – The VISTA created a mobile lab using donated laptops. The VISTA trained volunteers and teen students on how to use the GED interactive software program and others and tutored teens in the program.
The VISTA participated in our volunteer training on the intensive reading instruction method called the Wilson Method. From that point, Brian assisted in tutoring some adult literacy students and then led an in-service tutor training activity on the use of technology and in the initial pre-service tutor training session.
The Durham Literacy Center is very appreciative of the assistance and contributions that the Digital Arts Service Corps has provided to our partners and us. Last year, 2004-2005, we were lucky to have a VISTA as knowledgeable and experienced as Brian Russell. The VISTA took our agency to a new level – our technical infrastructure, integrity and our presentation to the outside world via the webpage are all at the strongest point they have been in years.
Goal 1: Continue to develop volunteer training program for instructors and classroom assistants plus expand volunteer recruitment to include interns, work-study and other community service organizations in order to develop a support mechanism for all essential functions of the EDGE project. Emphasize recruitment of bilingual volunteers to assist with our increasing number of non-English-speaking participants.
Goal 2: Insure future availability of basic computer and Internet training plus increase offsite access to EDGE training by helping to create online versions of handouts, interactive tutorials and instructional video.
Goal 3: Increase local awareness of The EDGE program plus work toward ensuring future
support by researching, identifying or contacting potential community partners, local and national corporations, local and national foundations and other possible grant sources. Present grant-writing opportunities to the Project Director and assist in the grant writing process and implementation of grant award projects as needed.
During Kimberly’s year with the EDGE the attendance number rose to over 3800. Kim was very successful in building good rapport with the EDGE clients and encouraged increased participation in both instructor-led and self-paced tutorial sessions, especially with our older population and our teens.
Kim worked on a volunteer recruitment plan and helped in the development of a new Volunteer application form. Volunteer hours increased to an average of 25 hours per month in her last six months, up from just 6 hours per month during her first 6 months.
In the spring of 2005, The EDGE saw the return of work-study students from one of the local universities. Kim worked well with these students and guided them in duties to help sustain the EDGE after her term ended.
Kim’s rapport with Hispanic participants helped The EDGE increase its number of Hipanic clients. As the University of Missouri Extension office announced that they would be discontinuing their bilingual technology workshops at the EDGE in September 2005, the library system began addressing the issue of bilingual volunteers through its newly created Diversity committee. Bilingual library staff are now working on a plan to offer established EDGE courses in Spanish some time in the future.
Over 50 class handouts and two interactive tutorials are now posted on the EDGE website. Kim assisted EDGE staff in making these handouts available in a variety of formats.
Kim has researched and presented several suggestions for both community and national partnerships and grant opportunities to the project director.
Kim helped obtain the required materials to support the Library’s application for a “Make a Difference” Scholarship grant. The application focused on The EDGE program. This grant was awarded by the University of Missouri to the Springfield Greene County Library as the library in Missouri applying the best use of technology to help its community.
Kim’s help has made it possible for The EDGE program to continue to serve the members of the community by helping them improve and expand their technology and information seeking skills. With a decrease in grant funding and the library’s budgetary constraints, the help received from VISTA is essential for the continuation and growth of the EDGE project.
Goal 1: Take over general operations of the Computers in the Home Phase of the BDE program.
Goal 2: Design a process to identify remaining students who qualify for the BDE Computers in the Home phase.
Goal 3: Development of volunteer training program. Recruit and coordinate volunteers for the BDE program.
Goal 4: Develop follow up procedures with the BDE families.
Goal 5: Develop procedures to identify potential candidates to become involved in Phases III, IV & V of the BDE program, CWCC literacy initiative and the Home Ownership Institute (HOI).
Goal 6: Implement an after-school computer assistance program.
Our project to date has had good results, we finished last years with the Bridges to Digital Excellence (BDE) program donating 742 total computers and training to students in grades three through eight. As of today we are at 793 Families that have completed our program. Becky has done a good job of running operations for the Computers in the Home part of BDE.
As of the beginning of this year’s program which started the last week of February Becky has managed all aspects of the program except purchasing of computers. As I did when we first started the BDE program there were some bumps in the road but things came together. The same has happed with Becky leading the Computers In the Home program now. I have full confidence in her abilities to continue the excellence and maintain standards that we strive for. Our one outlying goal is to have the program we put on compete with the best programs in the world. To my knowledge there is not another program in the country that is striving to bridge the digital divide as quickly and efficiently as this program is. We are estimating that by the end of next year every child across Berrien County in grades three through eight will have a computer in their home. We know that with the 793 families that have completed the program we have had 1586 people in the program and that more than 3000 individuals have been indirectly affected by the BDE program providing technology to so many homes. We want to see Becky continue to take advantage of the wealth of passion for the work we do. At our monthly steering committee meetings she gets to sit with the upper level IT management from almost every major employer in our community. She has been exposed to a brainstorming technique that was developed by Whirlpool Corp. called an “Ideation Session” and how it can be used to expel ideas from a group that are there but people just don’t realize. Becky also worked on a project for a development company; she wrote a proposal for a local art house to integrate technology into storytelling.
In her second year, Becky has effectively taken on all operations of the computers in the home program and is doing a good job running the program. We are looking forward to reaching our 1000th family by the end of 2005.
Goal #1: Improve marketing of programs and resources in order to draw a larger, multilingual segment of the community for Open Studio hours and other programs.
Goal #2: Build partnerships with local schools, job placement agencies, and new media companies to facilitate the exchange of resources and opportunities
Goal #3: Increase the sustainability of the program and the Lab through entrepreneurial strategies and capacity building
Molly has worked consistently to improve marketing through various efforts: identifying untapped resources (i.e., high school interns from an arts magnet school who can create fliers for the lab), making ongoing marketing more consistent (by working with the museum’s PR and Marketing person), and helping ensure that information about the program on our website is up-to-date. During the first quarter, she coordinated an Open House for the community classes program (which is targeted towards artists and professionals and designed to bring in revenue) that drew approximately 60 attendees (a definite increase over the last under-attended Open House) and was supported through sponsorship by Bacardi.
Molly cultivated contacts with artists and graphic designers, a company that produces multimedia and graphics presentations for use in courtrooms and legal cases, Miami-Dade Community College, and Miami Ad School, which we can use when finding internship opportunities for youth program participants this summer and at the end of the school year. She has also compiled valuable online resources about career possibilities in the arts and new media, and will be contributing to a section of our forthcoming online curriculum guide, The Documentary Project: A How-to Manual (funded by the America Connects Consortium Field Innovation Grants program). Recently, Molly also initiated and coordinated a visit to the program from a professional graphic design and storyboard artist, who talked to youth program participants about career opportunities available to them and his experiences working for MTV, The Discovery Channel, Sony, and other companies.
The AmeriCorps VISTA project has helped grow the capacity of the program in many ways, including by beginning to improve our systems of documentation, evaluation, and tracking. Molly has been working on developing an Access database which would improve on the previously existing one by allowing staff to track class registration, Open Studio (drop-in) members, and demographic and contact information in the same place and produce better reports. She has also augmented research of funding sources and developed ideas for ways that the Lab can be more self-sustaining, including by restructuring class registration fees.