Awareness & Recovery Institute shares their journalism successes

Recovery through Journalism has received wide support among the East African Community in Seattle. Under the newly established nonprofit called “Awareness and Recovery Institute (ARI)”, the project trained eight East African youth, the majority of whom are Somalis. During the training, the youth participated in reading, writing, computer aided reporting, and photography workshops. Soon after the training, the youth started practicing what they had learned; they are now providing photographs and some short writing to the East African newspaper, Runta.

The goals of the project were to: 1).Prevent young East Africans from involvement in unlawful and destructive behavior by providing them with useful, positive, and constructive skills, especially in civic engagement and technical aspects of media; 2) Provide a community structure of ongoing support and opportunity enabling youth to contribute meaningfully in an increasingly technological society; and 3) Provide a useful community role for youth who, due to war trauma, broken families, and street violence are at risk for destructive behaviors, thus improving their sense of hope and setting them on paths towards technically competent careers in community organizations and media.

Thanks to the City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund which funded this civic engagement project, students had the opportunity to visit many places including the Seattle Times, University of Washington, sports events, community events, and many more.  For more information about Awareness & Recovery Institute, please visit their website at: http://www.runtanews.com/category/youth/. — Submitted by Mohamud Yussuf, executive director.

Summer success at the Eritrean community

erit2The Eritrean Community In Seattle and Vicinity, ECSV, has been serving Eritrean families since 1983.  Located in the Central District the organization has served as a bridge to help  Eritrean refugees and immigrants to adjust to the culture of their new home here in the United States.

With a $15,000 grant from the Technology Matching Fund, ECSV provided a much needed upgrade to their aging computer lab.  Five new computers and an air conditioner to beat the heat allowed the Technology Learning Center to launch in June with classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.  Computer Instructor Teshome Mesgun, has since helped over 50 adults learn basic and professional computer skills and provided Tigrinya language training (GEEZ).

Volunteers and Board members have been key to making the new Technology Learning Center a reality.  They have contributed more than 265 hours of volunteer effort in coordinating and promoting the lab.    Classes filled after they spread the word about the computer lab at key public events, such as graduations, wedding and picnics.  They continue to build awareness about what Technology Learning Center can offer through flyers and other channels.  For more information on the project, contact Kiflemariam Sequar at nkdmit@yahoo.com.

Big-Brained Superheroes Club rocks Yesler CC

tmfHave you ever wondered how computers think? Kids at the Yesler Community Center learning about this and more through workshops hosted by the Big-Brained Superheros Club (BBS), a group whose mission is to tap into the hidden strengths that all young people have through the exploration of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). With support from the Technology Matching Fund, the Big Brained Superheros Club offers workshops on digital logic and electronics. While most kids spend ample time on Facebook, Twitter, and multiplayer web games, many of them have no idea how the machine they use every day actually works.  BBS volunteers teach youth how a computer “thinks” by  providing hands-on learning opportunities to build circuits and logic gates. Their circuit lab is modeled after the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio Circuit Boards. Youth attend regular BBS club meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting by reciting the club oath.  They also attend Superhacker Saturdays to prepare for the workshops.   For more information on the project contact Meredith Wenger,   or visit the Big Brained Superhero blog and Facebook page.

23 projects receive Tech Matching Funds

2014 TMF GranteesMayor Murray and the Seattle City Council today announced the 23 organizations that will receive a total of $320,000 in Technology Matching Funds from the City of Seattle. The awardees passed unanimously out of committee. Watch the video here.
“While access to technology has increased for many, there is still a significant gap in the access to and use of technology in Seattle,” said Mayor Murray. “Technology skills are necessary for success in the 21st century and these funds play a critical role in preparing our residents.”

“These funds play an important role in leveling the playing field. They help our must vulnerable residents use technology in innovative and meaningful ways, including seniors, at risk youth, homeless women and children, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

The money will support projects throughout the city to ensure all Seattleites have access to and proficiency using internet-based technologies. These projects were selected from Seattle’s Technology Advisory Board from more than 67 applicants and will contribute a projected $685,711 in community matching resources, more than double the City’s investment.

The funds will support greater digital equity in Seattle. Several projects will help Seattle build a diverse technology workforce, by providing STEM education programs for youth of color and computer and applications training to immigrants and low-income adults.  Other programs will help seniors and people with disabilities better engage using a variety of tools, including tablets, touch screens and social media. The projects will also enable greater electronic civic participation for many disadvantaged residents.

The 2014 Technology Matching Fund award recipients include:

  • Ballard NW Senior Center
  • Casa Latina
  • North Seattle Family Center/ Children’s Home Society of WA
  • Denny Terrace Computer Lab
  • Elizabeth Gregory Home
  • Filipino Community of Seattle
  • Helping Link
  • Hilltop House
  • Lao Women Association of Washington
  • Literacy Source
  • North Seattle Boys & Girls Club
  • Northaven Retirement and Assisted Living
  • Open Doors for Multicultural Families/STAR Center at Center Park
  • Ross Manor Computer Lab
  • Seattle Neighborhood Coalition
  • Solid Ground Sand Point Housing Campus
  • Somali Community Services of Seattle
  • South Park Area Redevelopment Center
  • The Jefferson Terrace Computer Lab Committee
  • University of Washington Women’s Center
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association
  • Washington Community Alliance for Self-Help (CASH)
  • YMCA of Greater Seattle – Y @ Cascade People’s Center.

For more information and a map of Technology Matching Fund awardees go here.

 

Youth get robots rockin’ in Seattle’s 98118

NewHolly youth with their robotics creations

NewHolly youth with their robotics creations

Written by Beryl Fernandes, Ph.D., a member of CTTAB, and an urban planning/management consultant.

Contagious! That’s the children’s enthusiasm and excitement at programming and watching their robots follow intended or unintended pre-programmed directions. Claps and screams of delight get everyone’s attention when a team’s robot makes the circuit flawlessly. Uncontainable!

One of the most diverse zip codes in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the youth of this robotics program defy often-held myths about them. Enrolled in a 10-week STEAM Lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) program at the Filipino Community of Seattle, young women and men, ages 6-16, from more than a dozen ethnic backgrounds, learn math, take apart computers, re-build them, build robots, and program the “bots” to follow directions.

Funded by City of Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund, the program requires repeated testing, trial and error. Students learn to “fail fast and fail often” – one of life’s many lessons imparted by their esteemed volunteer STEAM Lab Program Director, Jon Madamba. An electrical engineer and computer consultant, Jon asserts with exuberance, that each youth has everything it takes “to become our next generation of leaders.”  He wants them, “empowered to positively impact their families’ trajectory no matter what obstacles they face in life.  The STEAM Labs provide access and equality to build confidence as future innovators.”

Supported by other volunteer instructors and mentors, these youth prove they thrive in this challenging, nurturing environment. East African Community Services (a STEAM Lab partner), Executive Director Faisal Jama wants to provide exposure for all youth, but girls in particular, demystify it, and make it a career option. Students use a drag ‘n drop program and casually refer to robot components – the brick, brain, motors, legs, ultra sonic sensors, and color sensors.

Tim Leavitt, a volunteer instructor, says the labs provide real-world use of math, science and technology learned in school, by applying them to practical problem-solving. A 6-year old girl said she had the most fun building and testing the robot. A 7-year old boy was confident he could re-program a robot to do anything. A parent commented on teamwork in this program, where every child chooses a role such as programmer, project manager, builder, inventory, etc. Another parent liked the confidence gained from the kid-teaching-kid component. One parent asked her 10-year old daughter if she could clean up her room that fast, and the girl replied, “No, but I can program a robot to do it!” A mentor beamed, saying he loved seeing kids’ faces light up. “They are inventors!” he exclaimed.

Report looks at how Seattleites use technology and barriers

high-speed-internet-chartDid you know Seattle residents now have more laptops than desktop computers? Or that those with less education tend to make less use of the Internet?

The City of Seattle has just released new findings on technology access, adoption, social media use and civic participation by Seattle residents. These are available at seattle.gov/tech/indicators with key findings available in multiple languages.
A video presentation and discussion is also available to view.

“This data shows that we’re making great strides in technology, but a digital gap still exists between our neighbors,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We’re already using the data in this report to influence how the City of Seattle interacts with our neighbors and to better target our outreach and engagement strategies.”

The findings are based on feedback from 2,600 residents via online and phone surveys and in-person focus groups with immigrant, disabled and African American communities, to ensure the City heard from those who are often under-represented in surveys or are historically technologically-underserved.
The continued rise of smart phone and tablet use provides outstanding opportunities for government to reach more residents,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “The information from the focus groups will help us improve services and how we reach all communities. We will take action on improving access to web services by making them available in multiple languages.”

Since 2000, the City’s Community Technology Program has conducted community research to find out how Seattle residents are using technology, and barriers to use. The results of this research are used by the City in a variety of ways, including to guide our Technology Matching Fund awards, cable franchising, and public information and engagement efforts by a wide range of City departments. It also provides data that non-profits and schools can use in grant proposals and to strategic planning.
Here are a few of the findings:

• 85 percent of Seattle residents have Internet at home, leaving about 93,000 Seattle residents without home Internet.
• 58 percent of Seattle residents now own smart phones, up from 35 percent in 2009.
• Education and age are the most significant factors differentiating technology access and adoption, but the data also shows important differences based on the income, ethnicity, and abilities of those surveyed.
• Broadband and cable TV prices continue to be of concern, but increasing broadband speed is important to those surveyed, with high interest in using higher bandwidth applications.
• The study finds that there is still a significant gap in access to Internet and the skills to use it, though the digital equity gap is more focused in skills and uses of the Internet than on basic access.

See much more on the Technology Access and Adoption Report page.

El Centro De La Raza helps seniors and youth get online

DigitalConnectorsIIIWith support from the Tech Matching Fund, El Centro de la Raza has expanded Wi-Fi access in its building on Beacon Hill.   By strategically placing nine routers at key locations throughout the building, they now have seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout the facility.

This has particularly benefited the 125 seniors who come to El Centro for the Senior Wellness Program.   Many of these seniors are isolated due to age, mobility issues and language and cultural barriers.   El Centro provides hands-on training to the seniors, who are often intimidated by new technologies and computers in general.  Volunteers use Century Link Internet Basics curriculum to teach Windows basics, web browsing and using the Internet safely, accessing information online, sending and receiving e-mail, and using social media including Facebook.  The seniors now have an affordable option to browse the Internet and communicate with friends and family in Latin America and Asia.

The wireless access has also supported the Comcast Digital Connectors Program for 18 youth ages 14-21, for two hours, twice a week.  These workshops are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 PM and support high school age youth to improve their digital literacy and close the digital divide for low-income youth of color.

For more information on the project contact Miguel Maestes at associate@elcentrodelaraza.org, (206) 957-4650.

826 Seattle gets a technology boost

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing and tutoring center dedicated to empowering young people—particularly disadvantaged youth who risk academic failure due to socioeconomic or language barriers—with the confidence and skills to communicate their personal stories through writing.  Their services are structured around the belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that proficiency in writing helps children become more engaged in school and ultimately grow into successful adults.

With a $14,326 grant from the Technology Matching Fund last year, 826 Seattle gave their computer lab a much needed makeover.   They brought in four new iMacs, five laptops,  an iPad and a digital microphone.   Volunteers did everything necessary to get the lab up to speed, including wiping the old computers clean and recycling them.

The new technology suite benefits the students in many ways.  More than 1,000 students came to the center during the first six months of the project to participate in innovative writing workshops on topics ranging from “Snarky and Hallmark-y: Writing Your Own Greeting Cards” to “Before Texting: The Power of Historical Letters.”

More than 150 students also used the computer lab for homework completion.  Technological access is an integral part of students’ daily homework routine, whether it is checking a school website for assignments and grades, doing internet-based research for school projects, or completing mandatory online daily math practice drills.  First grader Nehemiah (pictured above)  listened to jazz and studied jazz history.

If you look for the center in the Greenwood neighborhood, you won’t find a traditional tutoring center sign on the front door.  It’s discreetly tucked away behind the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company,  a retail store that sells space-themed novelties and toys.

For more information on the project, contact Peggy Jackson.

 

Lake City computer lab expands its reach

lake city

Participant at the Lake City Computer Lab

The North Seattle Family Center, a program of  Children’s Home Society of Washington, successfully completed a yearlong Technology Matching Fund grant to expand the computer lab at Seattle Housing Authority’s Lake City Court Apartments. The $18,000 in project funds helped 228 low-income and vulnerable residents in North Seattle gain technology access and skills.

Serving a greater diversity  

The project added adaptive equipment to the computer lab, which increased access for individuals with disabilities. Staff also configured the computers to support language capabilities for 35 different languages, including those most commonly found in North Seattle. Participants acquired English language skills through the use of software and internet-based education resources, improving their communication skills in the workplace, the home and in the community. In addition, many  participants received employment readiness training, providing them with technology skills relevant to today’s workplace and increasing their employment opportunities. They also added youth services and open lab time.

Collaboration was key to strong programs

According to Program Manager Ann Fuller, “Collaborating with partnering programs has been key to our lab.” Over the course of the project they worked with Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle Public Library, the Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens, the Literacy Council of Seattle, the City of Seattle’s Health Access program, Techno-Formation Vocational Services (an organization focused on Somali women, youth, and elders), and the University of Washington. Bringing youth and adults together led to development of projects connected with activities in the lab, including working with the North District Council to add a basketball pick-up court and developing a pea patch plot for families using the lab.

Success providing access to services and building community connections   

The project’s greatest success was in providing computer and internet access to people who cannot afford or don’t know how to use these services. “So many things are based on computer knowledge and internet access, that children and families are being left behind and missing out on opportunities in business, schools and healthcare,” said Fuller. “We work with people who do not know those services are available, or don’t have the skills to use them.”

Another key outcome was building trust with members of the community. The staff at the lab helped build a trusting relationship by teaching computer use step-by-step and troubleshooting problems. Staff often referred individuals to the center’s family advocacy services for more assistance. Providing Seattle Housing Authority youth with a safe, fun, educational place to be has been another very positive outcome. Youth now come for assistance with not only homework, but also when other challenges face them at home and at school.

For more information on the project contact Ann Fuller at annf@chs-wa.org, or call North Seattle Family Center at 206-364-7930.