At the last Connect Chicago Meetup on March 21st, we heard from several people in the public computing center space about their proposals for collaboration. We’ve recorded each presentation and have presented each slide below. We’re still keeping our notes active for those that want to share, discuss, and learn more.
The first out of the gate was Greg Sutton. Sutton is the director of Education and Workforce Programs at TEC. TEC runs digital education programs, community technology support, systems design and support, and they aid in community economic development. He presented the following ideas for collaboration all centered around the idea of pooling resources together.
Idea One: Standardized goals and metrics
Sutton makes that point that when the Broadband Technology Opportunity Grant money ran out, there were no standardized goals to carry things forward. When we talk about things like digital literacy, it can mean different things to different people. By having standards that everyone is working towards, it makes the movement more sustainable.
Idea Two: Reliable Technology Support for Nonprofits
The next thing that Sutton discussed was making sure that community based organizations have reliable technology support. Many smaller community based nonprofits may not have the resources to maintain a full-time IT support staff. By pooling resources, we could ensure that all community based organizations get the support they need.
Idea Three: Integration of Community, Workforce, and Economic Development
Currently, we take the concepts of community,workforce, and economic development as separate efforts. Instead, Sutton argues that we should integrate these efforts.
Visuals4U provides website management, e-commerce solutions,, fundraising support and graphic design services for nonprofits and small businesses. Visuals4U also writes content for email campaigns and provides social media management.
Erie Neighborhood House
The Erie Neighborhood House is a non-profit organization with two locations on the Near West Side and Little Village. Julián Lazalde came to speak about the work that Erie Neighborhood House is doing in the digital literacy space and ways that they could collaborate.
Erie provides open access to technology resources to community residents in our computer laboratories. They have two Computer Labs in the House, at 1347 W. Erie, with a total of 34 workstations.
In addition, and in collaboration with other community-based organizations, they were able to expand to Little Village at 4225 W. 25th St. There are currently 12 workstations.
In addition, Erie also has two mobile lab with 32 laptops. This allows Erie to take technology to the classrooms and to supplement our Healthcare, CNC and ESL classes.
The Erie Neighborhood House has digital programs including A+ Certification classes (which can help lead to more job opportunities), photoshop and the Technology Promoters program. The Tech Promoter lead the work of Erie Neighborhood House. They recruit people interested in digital skills and the burgeoning IT Bridge.
The Eire House also has specific needs to aid in the programs:
- Software: Windows 8.1, Office 2013 and Photoshop licenses to upgrade thier computer labs.
- Funding to continue offering their services.
- More advanced equipment for the Hardware and Software classes so they can bridge our students to more advanced Classes like A+Certification.
- More Staff
Association House of Chicago
The Association House of Chicago serves a multi-cultural community by providing comprehensive, collaborative and effective programs in English and Spanish. They promote health and wellness and create opportunities for educational and economic advancement.
The Association House provides several tech services including a public computing center, technology training, and a workforce development program.
Currently, Association House is looking for new funding sources for expansion. Their demand for services currently exceeds the staffing levels of Association House. They also need additional hardware. Last year, their computers were used by 1908 people. Association House needs at least 30 computers to continue the program.