Seattle Chosen as Part of “What Works”

The City of Seattle is a leader in utilizing Open Data.  Websites like  and have demonstrated the City’s commitment and effective use of open data resources.

Performance Seattle home page.

Performance Seattle home page.

Now, Bloomberg Charities just chose Seattle as one of the first eight cities to participate in the “What Works Cities” program.

In the next three years, Bloomberg Charities will give 100 cities part of a $42 million initiative aimed at helping cities develop data-driven projects that improve their communities.

Seattle will focus on integrating data and evidence into their contracts to achieve better results.

To learn more and apply to be a What Works City, visit

Grant available to engage communities & neighborhoods using online technology!


The Online Boost Project was developed in response to what we learned from the Seattle Communities Online assessment and presentations at Neighborhood District Council and community group meetings. Neighborhood groups want to build their capacity to do effective outreach online, maintain their content, foster online engagement and use City widgets and tools.

We are looking for up to 15 projects who will receive up to $1000 in matching funds and will also participate in workshops with experts in using social media. Our goal is to boost their capacity through a project that takes them 3 months or less to complete. This is a one-time initiative and not something we’re currently able to commit to on an ongoing basis.  This program is administered by Community Technology Program of the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology (DoIT).

Program Goals

The Online Boost Project is designed to enhance skills and proficiency on the use of online resources for community groups with workshops, mentorship and seed funding to implement and/or increase their web presence. In coordination with the Seattle Communities Online initiative, we are seeking opportunities to enhance:

  • Increased awareness of community issues;
  • Increased community participation in problem solving; and
  • Increased interaction with government.

Online Boost grantees will have access to:

  • Up to $1000 mini-grants for a quick, specific project to be completed within 3 months.
  • Workshop (required in order to receive funding) where participants would leave the workshop knowing what resources are out there, what their plan of action will be, and how to go about implementing.
  • Mentorship and networking opportunities

The deadline is Tuesday, July 12 at midnight. The application is submitted online and all interested groups must register ahead of time in order to access the application.  You can register at:  If you have already registered for another grant with the City, you can log in with your user ID and password and select “Funding Opportunities” and then “Online Boost Grant.”

For help and resources visit the Online Boost Project at

For in-person help please contact:

Amy Hirotaka,, by phone at 206-733-9445; or

Vicky Yuki,, by phone at 206-233-7877.

TMF Success Stories: MMRTI

This post is the first in a series of “TMF Success Stories,” featuring updates on Technology Matching Fund recipients.


The Multimedia Resources and Training Institute of Seattle, or MMRTI, empowers youth to become leaders by using media technology to create stories about their cultural heritage, communities, and themselves. In partnership with the East Africa Arts and Cultural Association, MMRTI was a Bill Wright 2009 Technology Matching Fund recipient. MMRTI serves the immigrant community in the Seattle area, and, through the grant, has increased its capacity to serve more people. They have not only updated their computer equipment and software, they recently moved into a new, larger space better suited to their exciting new programming.


In addition to overseeing youth programs, MMRTI partners with local nonprofits and service providers to reach a broader community. For example, in addition to the multimedia courses offered in the past, MMRTI now holds Microsoft Word and Excel classes for adults in partnership with WorkSource. MMRTI Executive Director Assaye Abunie is excited about continuing to form partnerships with organizations to provide technology assistance and training.

One of MMRTI’s best known programs continues to be Ethio Youth Media TV, which aired weekly on SCAN-TV. Currently, many clips are available on their YouTube channel. The topics covered by the youth are issues directly affecting their community, including: cultural heritage, health and addiction issues, youth violence, and social justice. MMRTI trains youth to use Final Cut Pro to edit the video, and uses two cameras and wireless microphones for optimal picture and sound.

Individual Impact

Binyam, a participant in Ethio Youth Media TV, has benefited greatly from the program. He joined MMRTI with limited technology and media skills. As time went on, his skills increased and he became more involved in video production and editing. He brought many other youth to the program, assisting them along the way.

Binyam, along with other youth working on technical support and video production, became more visible in the community. As Binyam’s skill in video production increased, he organized some of the youth participants and made a short documentary film using the Final Cut Pro program. As a youth media and TV program lead, Binyam, with some of technical support team, has interviewed many event organizers, business people, community leaders, city officials, and government representatives. His interviews cover many community and youth issues. Topics include: violence, underage drinking, drug use, and HIV/AIDS.

Ethio Youth Media TV celebrated its 5th anniversary in March!

Using wikis for online community building

Netsquared, an initiative of Techsoup Global, hosted a session earlier this year called “How Nonprofits Can Use Wikis + Online Community Building.”  You can view a video of the session’s three wiki-experts here and learn about this simple collaborative tool.

One quote from the Adam Frey, the co-creator of Wikispaces, seems particularly relevant: “A wiki is a means, not an end.”

The video about 1.5 hours long, and some of the content focuses on K-12 education.  Nonetheless, the majority of the presentation is certainly relevant and helpful to community and neighborhood groups.

Are you using a wiki for your organization?  Let us know in the comments!

Idealware’s Social Media decision guide

Idealware, a nonprofit dedicated to helping nonprofits make smarter decisions, has created a guide to help nonprofits learn how to use social networking tools.  From their website:

Social media can be useful to your organization… but how useful?  For what?  What tangible results are people seeing from it?  Created in partnership with the New Organizing Institute, the Decision Guide walks you through a step-by-step process to decide what social media channels make sense for your organization via a workbook, guide, and the results of more than six months of research.

The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide includes a self assessment worksheet and tons of helpful information on choosing tools.  Download the guide here.

Also, make sure to check out our own Activities to Tools worksheet, created to help your group match available online tools to your needs and goals.

Idealware wants to know how you’re using social media.

Idealware, an organization helping nonprofits make smart software decisions, wants to know how you’re using social media.

Do you work or volunteer for a nonprofit organization?  Take a few minutes to fill out their online survey.  Idealware will use your answers to help all nonprofits use social media more effectively!  You can also view the results from their last survey — you’ll likely find helpful suggestions and information.

Curious about what we think?  Check out Tools at a Glance on Seattle Communities Online for some free and low-cost online social networking tools.

And please share your experiences, thoughts, and questions about social media in the comments section below!