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DISKovery Computer Learning Center Development

VISTA Name: 
Daniel Sheen
Program Start: 
6/2001
Project Description: 

- Support the development of a volunteer team of computer trainers and technicians
- Coordinate our program website and design print materials as a function of outreach activities
- Help establish curriculum models and evaluative procedures for improved lesson delivery, effective instruction, and replication
- Develop an afterschool program for at-risk, high-school aged youth designed to train participants in high-level computer-based skills
- Support small minority business efforts by providing pro-bono web development services to local shops and restaurants

Program Development and Outreach

Organization: 
Appalshop
VISTA Name: 
Julia Taylor
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Julia works in various capacities at Appalshop/Thousand Kites Project. She manages “StoryLine,” our online story-gathering project, for which she uploads audio to the content management system, and writes the copy for the website. She also responds to communication via our social networking sites and writes emailblasts. She works with community members (locally and nationally) to gather their stories about the criminal justice system and post them to the website. She also is currently creating a plan for a google map to document these stories using new technology. She also co-produces our campaigns. For our most recent campaign, Calls From Home, Julia coordinated the targeted outreach to radio station managers, prison chaplains, and prisoners and their families. She does the background research for the campaigns and organizes content. Including partnerships with other non-profits for viral marketing support. Julia works with community members (stakeholders) to identify community needs to inform future campaigns and communication strategies. Julia also produces our weekly radio show, Holler to the Hood, which broadcast online, as well supporting workshops that train community members and stake-holders in radio/online production.

Project Outcome: 

When Julia arrived at Appalshop, she spent the first couple of months working with staff to revamp the project’s website, making it media rich, clean, and efficient. We now have an direct model for people to call in their stories and a way to share them on the web. At the same time, Julia aided in the creation of a Facilition Guide, which helps Thousand Kites be a model for communities to take action. This document makes our work process more efficient because we can now direct people to the guide, instead of having to talk through all the details with each individual community. It is available in print and online and has greatly increased our capacity to train and garner participants. Julia has taken the lead on developing our database, updating contacts, and training staff on a system for long-term use. Overall Julia has worked at all levels of the organization to build our communication, online, and digital capacity.

Julia is able to identify key opportunities, and run with them. While looking through old email to learn more about the project’s correspondence, she found an unanswered email from a poet who was willing to volunteer his time to the project. Julia contacted him about possible connections, and now his network of poets has become a tremendous source of capacity in our project. His online community of writers has generated hundreds of audio samples for our website. Another example of this was when we received an email from a woman in the Virgin Islands who is dealing with the prisoners from her community being shipped up to prisons in our region. Julia saw this as an opportunity to really immerse in a community’s issue and help them find ways they could take action locally. The group has since produced their own radio program and hosted multiple film screenings using the Kites tools.

Impact Quote: 

Without our VISTA we would not have gotten several projects off the ground or reached the level of capacity that we have. Julia greatly expanded outreach and participation in our program by local, regional, and national communitiy members through building our communication backbone, developing a model for web-site content production, and building tools to lower the threshold of working with our program. It has simply impacted the entire organization to have someone focused on capacity building and research.

Technology Planning and Development

Organization: 
A Home Within
VISTA Name: 
Dan Stangl
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Dan has a number of responsibilities. Currently Dan is mainly engaged with implementing a new database. Other duties include technology planning for the organization, website upgrades, technology assistant for our digital photography program and general assistance.

Project Outcome: 

Dan has been instrumental in helping solve various tech problems presented by our photography program. Dan set up and formated a photo printer so that the students could properly print their work as they prepared it for their winter show. The production quality of the work made the students feel professional and helped impress the audience with the students’ work.

Marketing and Outreach

Organization: 
Community Partners
VISTA Name: 
Edward Gonzales
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Edward has worked with members of the California Community Technology Policy Group (CCTPG) to engage underserved communities in discussion regarding the usage and impact of emerging technologies in their communities. Specific activities have included: Developing online tools to track data, policies, and reseach on technology access and use in low-income communities; Developing communications tools and systems to disseminate policy updates and action alerts; Disseminating the results of CCTPG research to community leaders for use in local negotiations on access to emerging technologies.

Project Outcome: 

- Edward has been key in revamping the communication strategies of CCTPG by helping develop the website and manage the Action Alerts and Newsletter communications to members.
- Edward has help in the research and production of Wired for Wireless? a report on Digital Inclusion and government-led wireless networks.
- Edward has developed new content for the CCTPG website – the content has addressed key issues related to community technology.
- Edward has been key in CCTPG’s outreach efforts by identifying new members and developing relationships with them.

CCTPG is a project within Community Partners. Community Partners has undergone a reassessment of the public relations and communications strategy. During this process, Edward has been key helping incorporate online tools to enhanse the public relations and communications strategy.

Marketing and UI Design

Organization: 
MicroMentor
VISTA Name: 
Mary Chant
Program Start: 
7/2008
Program End: 
7/2009
Project Description: 

Mary Chant has been working with us across three primary areas:

1) Marketing Strategy and Capacity Building: Mary’s primary duty has been to establish MicroMentor’s marketing operations from the ground up. She has produced an extensive Marketing Plan, helped us establish our core value proposition and messaging, identified mechanism for distributing our message and compelling participants to join MicroMentor, and she is setting up key systems and processes for planning, managing, and evaluating our marketing efforts. These systems include Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.com (including the integration of third-party applications such as AdWords for Salesforce, Vertical Response, and DreamTeam). She also leads our weekly Marketing Meeting and manages our Marketing Calendar.

2. Developing and Executing Marketing Campaigns: In addition to leading our marketing strategy and planning, Mary also leads the execution of this strategy. This primarily involves producing and rolling-out individual marketing campaigns, aligned with either specific events (e.g., National Mentoring Month, National Entrepreneurship Week, etc.), or a specific target population (e.g., women entrepreneurs, skilled business volunteers, etc.). Each campaign is multi-faceted, usually included a mix of web content development, Google Adwords, posts on relevant external sites (e.g., usaservice.org), outreach to relevant organizations (e.g., Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education/National Entrepreneurship Week), and social media outlets (e.g., Facebook, Digg, etc.). Mary also coordinates ad hoc marketing opportunities, ensuring that we are disseminating a consistent message across a variety of web sites and media outlets.

3. Product Development: Mary has lent her deep experience in usability and interaction design to our major web application development project: MicroMentor 2.0. She has advised MicroMentor management on best practice and has analyzed and made recommendation at key decision points during the process. She has helped us conduct usability testing and analyze the results. All of this has greatly enhanced our product development process and has substantially improved the quality and usability of MicroMentor 2.0, which we will be releasing in late March 2009.

Project Outcome: 

Mary has made many valuable contributions over the first half of her VISTA term. A few of her more major accomplishments during this period include: a) Developing a Marketing Plan: Mary surveyed our existing (and admittedly disorganized) market research, marketing materials, web content, etc. and performed research and analysis (including interviewing key staff and partners) to produce a comprehensive Marketing Plan, This plan includes market research, competitive analysis, positioning/branding, internet marketing strategies, offline/traditional advertising strategies, marketing goals, and evaluation mechanisms. The Marketing Plan is key piece of our strategic planning work, and has guided the development of our marketing efforts. b) Overhauling the MicroMentor Website: Mary gave the MicroMentor website a badly needed makeover, re-arranging the navigation and content to make key sections easier to find, changing the layout of our homepage to increase the conversation rate of first time visitors, and adding keywords to improve our search engine optimization (SEO), and adding content to improve our SEO and better support our participants. She has continued to improve the website throughout her tenure, and we will be migrating many of these changes to our new website when it launches in late March. c) Implementing Key Systems and Processes: Mary has set up key systems for the MicroMentor team, including Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, and several Salesforce applications, such as Vertical Response, and DreamTeam (a project management application). She has also established a marketing campaign planning process and a website and marketing material change control process for us. These key systems and processes have greatly increased our program capacity and will remain in use long after the end of Mary’s VISTA term. d) Leading Usability Testing and Analysis for MicroMentor 2.0: Mary helped us significantly enhance the usability of our new mentoring platform–MicroMentor 2.0–by leading a user testing and analysis project. She provided usability training to our staff, planned our user testing process, oversaw the tests, reviewed the results, and made recommendations for modifications to our application design. This project was particularly challenging as we had to perform the tests and deliver the results in a very short timeframe, and Mary worked long hours and significant overtime to help us meet our goals.

The impact of Mary’s contributions is readily apparent in our quantitative and qualitative program feedback. First off, her marketing efforts have spurred tremendous growth in our program. Our participant enrollment during the first half of her VISTA period (7/1/08 - 12/31/08) jumped from 236 to 684, a 190% increase, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, when comparing the first half of Mary’s VISTA period to the same period a year ago, visits to the MicroMentor website have increased 180%, the average time spent on the site has increased 39%, and our bounce rate (the number of people visiting the site and immediately leaving) has decreased by 11%. All of this indicates that more people are learning about the MicroMentor program and that our website is more compelling and useful to visitors.

Program Development

VISTA Name: 
Naomi Jimenez
Program Start: 
1/2007
Program End: 
1/2008
Project Description: 

Naomi’s responsibilities were many and varied. At the beginning of the year, she assisted in the major redesign of our website, www.otxwest.org. Using tools such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and others, she added to visual elements as well as rewrote a significant amount of the content and reworked the navigation. Her technical duties consisted of helping to coordinate the installation of labs in schools and community centers. She worked with our network specialists to set up and occasionally maintain labs both in in schools and at community centers in various locations around Oakland. In addition, she often participated in our Tech Support Day, which is the day when recipients of our refurbished computers can come in and have their computers repaired or receive one-on-one instruction. She also assisted in the instruction of both our Take Home Computer Program, as well as four digital storytelling workshops, which varied in length from 2 days to four weeks. She would also occasionally supervise our volunteers.

Project Outcome: 

Naomi enhanced the existing curriculum for our Take Home Computer Program curriculum, adding about 10 additional pages to our training manual, which covers basic computer maintenance and internet safety. She also created various instructional handouts for our digital storytelling classes. She was directly responsible for an increase in the attendance of our Take Home Computer Program by at least 300 students, which is roughly one third more than last year. She also helped upwards of 270 students become confident in the use of multimedia software during our digital storytelling classes. She also increased her technology skills, both software and hardware. She went from having little to no experience using audio and image editing software, to being knowledgeable enough to teach others how to use them. She went from being slightly nervous speaking in front of a group, to being a commanding and effective presence in the classroom.

Although it isn’t particularly specific, Naomi’s digital story “California Dreaming” inspired many students to learn to use the multimedia programs. It never failed to get applause when we played it in class.

Marketing and Design

VISTA Name: 
Derek Maxwell
Program Start: 
1/2007
Program End: 
1/2008
Project Description: 

The VISTA member provided and assited with an array of services and programs, including direct training to youth participants, development of training manuals and materials, website design and development, community outreach and recruitment, development of program materials including brochures, posters, and mailers, as well as other administrative duties.

Project Outcome: 

Our VISTA member compiled a catalogue of past and present programs and descriptions, helped move our website to a new design based on open source Drupal software, helped set up web hosting with other non-profits, developed training manuals and materials, and taught a graphic design course to youth, which we had never done before here at PCTV.

Website Development and Asset Mapping

VISTA Name: 
Kevin Bulger
Program Start: 
1/2007
Program End: 
1/2008
Project Description: 

1) Update and maintain CTC asset mapping database.
2) Participate in providing technical support to the South Florida Regional Equitable Connection project.
3) Research on sustainable best practices relevant to community technology the South Florida region and written report.
4) Provide technical assistance to CTC’s in the region.
5) Conduct focus groups in low-income neighborhoods.
6) Assist with policy research activities.
7) Participate in other capacity and consensus building activities.

Project Outcome: 

Kevin Bulger was responsible for very successfully assisting the technical and organizational development of the South Florida Regional Equity website with the co-supervision of a Collins Center staff. He assisted with the asset mapping of some 212 South Florida region community technology programs and access locations. He was also involved in policy and planning initiatives related to community efforts such as Wireless Miami Beach. Kevin assisted in writing grants for CTI and researched available grants. When Victoria Edwards began her service, additional grants were written and the asset mapping of agencies continued with the two VISTA’s working together on these projects. Meetings with agencies led to the development of the concept of creating memberships and co-op services to CTC’s and access projects in the region. Meetings have taken place with a number of community organizations to assist in securing and deploying volunteers as an element of co-op services. A conference event for 30 CTC’s and related organizations was organized in January 2008. Both VISTA’s have come up with some excellent and innovative ideas and concepts for the project, which would often be integrated into grants, or service concepts that have been incorporated into the co-op plan for CTC’s. It was decided to eliminate the work on focus groups to instead center efforts around working with provider agencies on the co-op services concept.

Kevin’s diverse organizational skills allowed him not only to help develop a web portal for equity resources (www.sflregionalequity.org), but encouraged the project director to involve him in a series of follow-up activities including newsletter and conference development. Following his service (ending late Jan.), his value is demonstrated by his being hired for part-time work by another hosted initiative operating under the Collins Center. While not all objectives were accomplished in the program year, Kevin’s ethic and value are further confirmed by his continuing part-time volunteerism on the project after his service has ended.

Website Developer

Organization: 
Active Media Foundation
VISTA Name: 
Josh King
Program Start: 
6/2007
Program End: 
6/2009
Project Outcome: 

Cecille and Josh have been helping with the Cooperative Measurement and Modeling of Open Networked Systems (COMMONS) project and have done fantastic work aiding with logistics on this initiative. We are currently moving forward with piloting our first COMMONS networks and integrating local community networks into the larger project.

Josh has overhauled the chambana.net infrastructure and the Acorn Active Media Foundation website and is currently working to add services and applications to our content management system.

Cecille, Josh, and I are in discussions with ARIN to provide the first-ever major allocation of IPv6 numbers for community networks. This would transform many networking initiatives throughout the country and represents the culmination of two+ years of work.

Impact Quote: 

Josh has been all-around fantastic. His work has enabled our community services to expand dramatically in recent years.

Web Projects Coordinator

Organization: 
Grassroots.org
VISTA Name: 
Scott D'Antuono
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
9/2010
Project Description: 

In response to our rapid membership growth, we saw a rise in the demand for new products and services and realized the need for support tools for our other 3 existing services as well as the importance of support for new services as they are added. Our VISTA will build support resources and strengthen capacity of sub domain web content.

-Build comprehensive online training and support resources for remaining 3 applications in Toolbox and new applications as they are added to the Toolbox. Ensure that applications are fully sustainable & documented, saving staff time while helping smaller nonprofits make use of the Toolbox.

- Strengthen the capacity of Grassroots.org’s sub domain website content to serve nonprofits, recruit new members, and generate needed attention from nonprofits, volunteers, donors and partners.

-Manage Grassroots.org’s newsletters, recruit members/partners to publish entries for Grassroots.org blog

Project Outcome: 

Scott created help guides, Webinars and supplemental materials to make the Grassroots.org Toolbox experience seamless for al Grassroots.org members. Scott took over the management of our NING social networking site in addition to streamlining our SEO consulting program and making the application process for the Social Venture Consulting program more efficient. Scott authored an extensive amount of content on our blog, such as the “Tool of the Week” series and our “Faces of Change” video series. In addition, Scott created estore.grassroots.org (a promotional products website resulting in 4% donations for Grassroots.org) and was an essential force in creating Interns.org on Wordpress. Scott’s positive, can-do attitude enabled him to complete every project he was asked to complete.

Scott ended up developing our NING Community Networking site. Scott fully took over this project from the design to the moderation of the site. Scott also took on the role of reaching out face-to-face with our local members, something he had a personal interest in and showed initiative in doing. In addition to promoting Grassroots.org through attending “GrassrootsCamp” NY Tech Meetup events, Scott got involved in the projects of our member orgs. For example, Scott volunteered his time to sketch/design a handbook for Grassroots.org member “Getting Tools to City Schools” and their sustainable binder project. Scott is a true joy to have in the office and his greatest accomplishment in my opinion is his positive contribution to morale.

Impact Quote: 

Scott was able to accomplish every task that we gave him. Scott was very responsible about asking for help when he needed it and seeking out the tools he needed to complete tasks. It was a pleasure working with him throughout the year and in fact, we hired him at the end of his VISTA term.

Transmission Project