Teaming for Technology bridges Digital Divide in Chicago - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Teaming for Technology bridges Digital Divide in Chicago

With the support of IBM, United Way, and the Corporation for National and Community Service, Teaming for Technology continues to answer the 1997 call to “ensure that all our youth have access to the … fundamental resources that can help them lead healthy, fulfilling, and productive lives.”
This article was written by Ken Woodhouse.

In 1997, the President’s Summit for America’s Future called on the public and private sectors to “ensure that all our youth have access to the … fundamental resources that can help them lead healthy, fulfilling, and productive lives.” In response to this call, IBM, United Way, and the Corporation for National and Community Service formed a partnership, and the national Teaming for Technology initiative was born. Chicago was selected as one of more than a dozen original locations for the project. Today, seven years later, it remains one of the most active and well-established chapters in the country, having assisted more than 130 local agencies.

Teaming for Technology works with nonprofit organizations in the Chicago area to empower them with the knowledge, resources, and processes to enhance their services to the community. Some of its primary services include technology planning, consulting, and implementation; new and refurbished computer hardware distribution; network and computer installation; Web site and database development; resource matching; and partnership building.

At a time when computers and the Internet are used for everything from basic communication and client tracking to filing for social services and day-to-day transactions, Teaming for Technology members believe it is critical that underserved agencies have the know-how to use these valuable resources to their maximum capacities. Only then can they provide their own clients with the best they have to offer. Teaming for Technology continues working to bridge the digital divide in Chicago and has been well received by many. Andrea Karoff, program coordinator for Gilda’s Club, a support group for people affected by cancer, commented on her assistance from the team: “The completion of our LAN and acquisition of new hardware has dramatically improved both the quality and speed of our interoffice communications. We are now finally in a position to begin to build and effectively utilize our demographic and donor databases.”

The five-member Teaming for Technology staff is comprised entirely of AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers. The group also works with college interns and professional volunteers on a range of agency projects and classroom trainings. IBM’s generous donations of computer hardware (valued at over $45,000/year) have allowed volunteers to distribute computers to agencies that otherwise would not have them. The United Way provides not only office space and administrative support for the program, but outreach supports from its professional staff.

To learn more about Teaming for Technology, or volunteering for the organization, visit www.t4tchicago.org or call 312-906-2486. Information about how Teaming for Technology can help nonprofit health and human care service agencies with 501(c)(3) status is also available.

Ken Woodhouse is an AmeriCorps*VISTA member currently working with Teaming for Technology in Chicago. He worked as a research assistant for the Campaign for Sensible Growth at MPC in the summer of 2001. He can be reached at 312-906-2486.

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