computers in home

CTC Assistance and Training

VISTA Name: 
Alison Hale
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The goal of this roject is to provide technology and technology related services to low-income families so they obtain better educational opportunities and higher paying jobs. Specific outcomes include:

- Increasing the amount of basic and advanced and basic technology classes being offered at the El Batey Community Technology Center

- Enhancing services provided to teenagers and youth

- Wiring the first 400 housing units in Villa Victoria with Internet access via cable modem

- Providing these families with a computer and printer

- Creating the Wide Area Network

To this end, the VISTA member will act as Program Coordinator and will work as a team with tech center staff to

- Develop and coordinate training programs

- Research and apply appropriate curricula

- Ensure the efficient operation of the CTC by preparing and publishing monthly activity schedules, coordinating volunteers and trainers, providing trainer orientation, scheduling maintenance and repairs, coordinating technology upgrades and program expansion.

- Supervise activities hosted at the center

- Ensure that computers and other technologies operate smoothly, that upgrades are performed, that anti-virus and other security systems are implemented, and that machines are respected by the program participants and end-users

- Enforce Technology Center rules and policies

- Help network the community

Project Outcome: 

Alison began to organize a youth web magazine: assembled a group of teenage editors to run the magazine, began their training, secured the support of various branches of the organization and began to build partnerships with other organizations who could provide training or other services.

CTC Assistance

VISTA Name: 
Larry Syms
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Our long-range goals are to enable a significant number of adult learners to feel comfortable and skilled in using computers and to learn where they can purchase low-cost (recycled or new) computers for family use.

VISTA members will perform the following taks:

- Enabling adult students to feel comfortable and skilled in finding useful information on the web;

- Assisting in learning projects such as helping adult learners to word process and desktop publish school newspapers and student magazines;

- With small groups of adult students designing and making web-based Virtual Visits of workplaces and community organizations of interest to adult learners and their families;

- Providing access to online and CD-ROM-based adult instruction in English language and other basic skills learning

- Adding to the Boston E-Square web pages

Computer Distribution Coordinator

HandyCapable Network, Inc.
VISTA Name: 
Nathan Badera
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

HandyCapable Network promotes self-sufficiency and enriches the lives of people with disabilities or people who are otherwise socially or economically challenged by providing training in and access to computer technology.


1. Develop partnerships to receive donations of computers for refurbishing.

2. Develop ways to distribute computers beyond the needs of new CLCs established by HCN. For instance, building on current relationships with social service non-profits to put computers in homes of low-income families; explore computers for after school programs; provide computers for non-profit office use.

3.Develop a marketing and public relations plan and implement that plan toward the goals of community awareness, gaining financial support and computer donations. Plan to include print, radio, tv media, and website and other online options.

4. Develop or revise marketing materials to support both of these efforts including: 1) letters to potential computer donors; 2) Project description/brochure; 3) Edit and distribute two newsletters for the program as a support to marketing and fundraising efforts.


1. Develop a one hour “tour” program, and host visitors monthly.

2. Develop corporate partnerships that include computer and/or financial donations.

3. Further develop the supporter database to track donations, and to ease communications by letter and email with supporters.

4. Develop an acknowledgment plan to thank donors and recognize donations.

5. Coordinate one or two fundraising events.

Project Coordination Assistance

1. Assist in managing the computer distribution for one or more major projects, including the distribution of computers to 7th grade students at Hairston Middle School in 2007-08.

Project Outcome: 

Nate developed at least 5 partnerships with various businesses on his own and many smaller individual donors. These connections continue to provide ongoing computers for HCN.

He also negotiated a 200 computer purchase at a very nominal fee, picked them up, loaded and unloaded them, and found a place to have them stored.

Nate revised brochures, and a variety of new donor letters, flyers were completed.

He submitted a grant application to Leadership Greensboro which resulted in a team of four local business leaders to help him develop a marketing package, a promotional DVD (still in the works), a lead database and 3 large computer donors. One donor at a local hospital brings 25-40 computers a month.

Nate was especially successful with media through press releases, resulting in TV news coverage three times (videos on our website), one school distribution had 3 local channels show up to cover it. Another grant he submitted to a Create-A-Thon, a local marketing firm, has resulted in a large banner for use at events. It came in very handy and was used 4 times during Nate’s service.

He was instrumental in making many updates, changes and fine tuning our website. He developed the Virtual Tour and has agreed to continue to keep the HCN website fresh and up to date. Nate coordinated all computer distributions which included 71 to the families at Hairston Middle School, 77 to Newcomers School (all immigrants from 8 different countries), 60 to another local immigrant community and sometimes with the help of the Executive Director but often on his own he delivered 50 computers to Group homes (for adults with disabilities) throughout the state of NC. These distributions are very time- and staff intensive; having a Vista take the majority of the responsibility helped other staff to do their respective jobs more effectively. Just before he left, Nate submitted a grant for $30,000 for another local school distribution. We recently received the letter stating we were awarded $25,000.

We have a great website, new ongoing partners, so many computers we have to store them off site, new relationships, an inventory database that makes life easier and some big shoes to fill. (We offered Nate a job, but he declined). We are sustaining Nate’s work by hiring the previous Vista, Anna Simanovitch, in a part time Admin. Assistant role. We have also worked out a consulting contract with Nate to continue web updates, write grants, help complete the Annual Report and in many other ways we we may need to use his expertise and knowledge of our organization .

Community Wireless Network Administrator

VISTA Name: 
Gabriel Fishman
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Within the past year, the Tenants Organization, with central help from an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member, has developed an extraordinarily high-density, publicly accessible wireless mesh network that covers most of Castle Square Apartments and provides free Internet access to residents. It has also developed a computer repair and refurbishing system that provides services to residents.

Starting in August 2007, a new VISTA Member will play a central coordinating role in:

* Enhancing assessment systems to monitor and analyze the capacity of the community wireless network at Castle Square to provide needed service to residents

* Develop practices and procedures to improve the network capacity

* Further develop a technical assistance system to enhance Castle Square residents’ home computer use, including use of work/study students from the nearby Benjamin Frankin Institute of Technology and youth peer leaders who are Castle Square residents

* Design and initiate a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program at Castle Square Apartments, including outreach to potential donors of equipment, and assembling and coordinating a team of work-study students, youth residents and volunteers to implement the program.

* Expand community partnerships with other Boston area housing developments interested in establishing free WiFi networks for residents and provide technical assistance to the work at these other sites.

* Attempt to secure additional financial and other resources to provide ongoing support to Castle Square Tenants Organization and other Boston area CDCs and tenants’ organizations seeking to establish WiFi networks

* Develop and offer multilingual, largely locally-produced, content on a LAN server

Project Outcome: 

Gabriel had a very successful year of service with our organization and we are very happy with the work he has done. He was responsible for a number of improvements at our center.

1. Gabriel established a relationship with RCN and was able to arrange a deal to change all of our organizations phone and internet service, including our wireless backhaul, to RCN, saving us more than $1000 each year, and more than doubling our bandwith.

2. Gabriel developed a plan to have our organization host three technology events, titled Boston Tech Days, where low income residents would be given the opportunity to interact with technology professionals in Boston to receive computer repair services and computer trainings. Gabe wrote a short proposal to help us fund these Tech Days. This proposal won us over $1500 for each Tech Day (approximately $5000 total) to help us pay for equipment, staff, and other expenses.

3. Gabe assisted us in establishing a new location for our Computer Repair Clinic that offers free technical support to all Castle Square residents. With his help, we were able to respond to over 250 requests for technical support from residents during his year here. The Computer Repair Clinic also offers refurbished PCs to residents in need, and under Gabe’s management, we have already donated approximately 100 computers this year. Before he left, he initiated a plan to move the Repair Clinic to the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, which will significantly increase our capacity and ability to serve residents of the entire South End.

4. Before Gabe left, he helped us to write a proposal that won us $5000 from Social Justice Works! an organization in Cambridge that funds programs by Cambridge Public School graduates. This money will enable us to start a Youth Council that will be entrusted with redesigning our playground over the next few months.

Impact Quote: 

Gabe has helped us to improve many of our technology systems, has found us grants for events and community groups, and has publicized our work to the community and to the city of Boston. This is a huge help to us and will impact us for many years going forward. Over 100 families now have working computers and improved internet service, and some of them are enrolling in technology programs in our center, or in other centers in the area to improve their skills.”
- Emilio Flores, supervisor

Youth Media Program Development

VISTA Name: 
Kevin O'Brien
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Kevin further developed a youth web magazine project based on the project that CTC VISTA Alison Hale had started the year before. The name of the project is: Teen Limitz. Here youth participants wrote stories, took pictures, and learned many skills: Web publishing, Design, Macromedia Dreamweaver, HTML, Flash, and Adobe Photoshop. Kevin also taught a web design class for adults in both English and Spanish at the Center.

Kevin is to provide tech support to residents in the Villa Victoria neighborhood that were given computers through IBA’s computer donation program. He has made over 50 visits to fix software and hardware problems. He also developed a training manual to help residents learn about providing Tech Support. The guide addresses all the common problems that residents face and shows how to fix them. This guide is available online: (29 MB)

Project Outcome: 

Kevin successfully recruiting the three teens that had previously worked with Alison. He then taught them how to build their own webpages and link them together. He helped them with their writing and editing. By working with WiredWoods, he was able to get help with the curriculum development and tracking as well as get digital cameras loaned to the program.

The teens can now say with confidence that they know how to develop and maintain a complete website. They can also build their own pages, and enter into more advanced training programs. This could potentially be a way for these kids to find high-paying jobs.

Kevin also taught a dozen adults how to make their own pages. They were excited to learn and help each other learn.

Kevin was very patient and understanding with the residents. On each of the site visits to fix residents’ computers, I heard that he took time to teach residents about the computers and encourage them to take more classes.

Impact Quote: 

I was impressed with Kevin’s persistence and dedication to the project. He would knock on their [teen volunteers’] doors if they were late and work around their schedule to get things done. By the time Kevin left, I felt the teens had gotten a valuable experience from him.”
- Kimberly Lopez, supervisor

Transmission Project