ellohay! West Michigan

Pledge at fundable.com

Posted in donations, fundraising, pilot by forgr on March 25, 2008

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To get the “Digital Inclusion in Grand Rapids, MI/Forgr” Laptop Pilot Program off the ground, we need a small amount of money for materials. We’re hoping to present our project to the Mayor Heartwell (of Grand Rapids, MI), Governor Granholm, the Grand Rapids Public School Board, and the Community Media Center among others.

We estimate the cost of printing copies of the business plan, copies of supporting materials, postage, domain registration, and site hosting to cost approximately $240.

If you believe in this project, you have to power to see it bloom and grow. Pledge a little here at fundable.com (and you only pay if we get 100% of our pledges). If you can’t pledge, comment on a blog post, seriously (we need opinions too!).

Thank you to all of you who have helped us get to this point, your feedback has been so helpful in forming this program.

Marie-Claire

Pilot program initial planning (stages, players, events)

So among other things, there’s quite a bit to think about for a pilot program… And yes, we’re planning on a pilot program. Talking with John Helmholdt from the public school district was inspiring. And even if that connection ends up not panning out, there a many other groups that I’m sure would be receptive to the idea. With that in mind, I write this,

Some initial thoughts on serving a small group of individuals for pilot program,

1. Prep 2. Give 3. Support

Within these stages are potentially 8 or 9 groups that we would need to bring together for this program.
• Geeks (for computer gleaning, clean up, open source os installation etc. at the geek-a-thon)
• Audience/clients (who will receive the laptops, get support, orientation, education)
• Forgr staff (will organize, manage and execute the program pieces and parts, provide orientation to all)
• Educators or existing community education organizations (teachers, professors, instructors that will teach introductory level skills to audience in a group setting and/or one-on-one)
• Tech support staff (will be available for audience to trouble shoot any extreme cases)
• Audience administration (school board, program executive directors etc. that will need to determine goals and parameters, and then accept responsibility’s for supporting program within their institution)
• Facilities (venue for geek-a-thon event, temporary education and support workshop locations)
• Piggy-back organization (existing nonprofit organization that will host our initiative, allow donors to give their laptops and equipment with a tax deductible status)
• Potentially parents and teachers of audience/clients if it’s a classroom environment (these would be extended support system and will need to understand the program’s ins and outs as much as possible)

So, with that in mind, here’s a shot at planning for the first stage of the pilot program:

1. Prep

1a.) Establish a planning committee, meet and come up with plan of action for organizing three part program pieces and parts, who what when where why how. Discuss goals, determine how event might be sponsored, how to recruit volunteers etc. Set our success model for the program.

1b.) Secure a venue for geek-a-thon portion, secure a piggy-back organization, determine rough time-line, secure deductible donation status for donors/geeks, discuss process for client group, secure sponsor.

1c.) Prepare to meet with client group leader, write up targeted business plan and executive statement for client group and/or piggy-back organization.

1d.) Meet with client group leader or board, determine hopes, goals for their group, their anticipated trouble spots, stumbling blocks, determine best course of action to proceed, set rough time line for events.

1e.) Submit any agreement documents with group (if necessary), start building community of educators or participating education facilities for education and support base for client group, discuss plan of action for geek-a-thon event.

1f.) Create program around geek-a-thon. Explore ways spread the word about the geek-a-thon, explore call to action for geeks to glean computers, event details, computer tagging strategy. Collect list of participating educators or community education partners. Finalize time line for all events and launch.

1g.) Check in on sponsor, venue, status, dates, client agreement, piggyback organization, donor. Firm up time line and event schedule for geek-a-thon with all pieces and parts, collect email addresses for all educators, geeks, and volunteers. Draft literature for all groups, client instructions, support materials, feedback forms etc.

1h.) Arrange for entertainment, food, music, tables etc. for geek-a-thon. Design email invitations, posters, signs for geek-a-thon. Make sure everything is covered, on track with all groups. Find facilitator volunteers for geek-a-thon.

1i) Send out invitations to geek-a-thon, write press release for event and contact media for event coverage. Finalize all materials for literature for all audiences.

1j) Collect RSVPs from geeks, collect feedback on idea from geeks. Meet with audience administration (weekly?) and hold pre-orientation/round table with administration, (potentially teachers, parents) on upcoming event and program ins and outs.

1k.) Venue prep for geek-a-thon event day or two ahead. Set up, event dry run with committee, hold volunteer orientation, have FAQ sheet available for volunteers. Tie up loose ends before event. Send out press releases, check back in with press to make sure they are attending (if we want them).

1l.) Hold Geek-a-thon event. Hand out kits to geeks. Get volunteers in place. Answer questions, address immediate needs. Announcements. Register laptops and run through clean up, diagnostics, set up checklists. Determine what parts are missing, needs to bring all machines up to standards. During event solicit feedback, have temporary workshop volunteer sign up sheet/email list and sign up for continuing involvement in program. Enjoy ourselves and do something good together. Collect finished machines. Thank everyone for coming and explain next steps. Collect possible donations.

1m.) Send out thank yous and confirmation to geeks and volunteers from geek-a-thon event. Prep temporary workshop space, get wireless networks set up. Tools, parts, and/or the means to gain. Set up volunteer schedule, hotline for clients, tracking system for incoming machines maintenance. Confirm introductory level education schedule. Tie up any loose ends with groups.

2. Give

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Photo from flickr-user elemenous for use under creative common license
2a.) If necessary, hold orientation for potential teachers, parents, administrators. Explain their roles, and provide support for them as extended support team. Collect phone numbers, names addresses of their children/our clients.

2b.) Hold client orientation. Introduce program origins, cover who what when why wheres, address, explain all questions. Tell them how it will work. Have all parties sign ‘promise’ agreement and ‘care and keeping of your new computer’ sheet.

2c.) Bring clients their laptops, literature, FAQs, how tos, what ifs, explain hotline. Hold first education session, set up email accounts, provide educational outlets outside program too. Explain feedback plan. Fill sign up sheet for future classes, sessions. Collect email addresses from all clients. Collect donations?

2d.) Let them take them home, and make sure they stay connected to the program by providing feedback.

3. Support

536550986_d6704b735a.jpg

Photo from flickr-user mugley for use under creative common license

3a.) Collect feedback, hold classes, collect donations, fix broken machines, address problems. Change, adapt, support, grow, learn.

3b.) Host lessons-learned session for geek-a-thon, hardware status, determine if program is on track

3c.) Collect and synthesize incoming feedback. Solicit feedback from parents, teachers. Update program if necessary.

3d.) Hold lessons-learned for orientations, education sessions, workshops, volunteers, facility, hotline, etc.

3e.) Scout for permanent workshop location if necessary, build client database, build website, find more volunteers, find donors, send out regular newsletters. Build, grow, learn, adapt, assist, have energy.

3f.) Reach pilot program success, continue to support clients through their growth and ours.

Phew, so what do we think here, too optimistic, would something like this work? We really want to know, what’s missing?Why do we need your help? Because I’m sitting on my couch, at home, in my pajamas with my headphones in and it’s impossible to coordinate something like this a bubble.

If you’re interesting in jumping in, joining us, and joining the pilot planning and execution committee, email me, or call me at (616) 446-3622, (mobile phone number).

If you’re thinking about helping in other ways, we’d love you for that too. Call, email, drive over to my house, send me a letter. Make contact. We want you.

Other related notes:

Determine next steps after pilot

Meet with committee weekly on progress

Have plan for addressing negative feedback at all stages of the game

Have google group for planning committee to post happenings

Have audience discussion group online, get ichat accounts, meet regularly for required education

Provide laptop to teachers?

Hold Fund-raising events simultaneously

A Conversation with Lynell Shooks

Posted in conversations, donations, hardware resources, meetings, partners, planning, players by forgr on March 9, 2008

So, last week I talked with Lynell Shooks from Comprenew Environmental in Grand Rapids, MI. Comprenew is the leading recycling and upcycling entity in the region. They’re mission is much different than ours, but still involves computers and assistance to the community.

“Last year, Comprenew Environmental kept approximately 1.5 million pounds of electronics out of landfills.”

“The mission of Comprenew Environmental is to inspire the local community to live and work in a sustainable manner. This mission is accomplished through the mentoring of community partners and inner-city youth who, along with committed staff and volunteers, provide corporations and the community with electronics recycling services that represent the best possible practice.”

I left a message but didn’t get a call back for about two weeks, I called back this week to see if I could catch her at a different time of day. Got her on the phone…

I took cruddy notes while talking with her:

General Information:
Offer discounted electronics at the store
Laptops for $380-400
Offer support
Two week warranty, No long term warranty provided
Geared towards regular users, but work with lower income
Build computers
Non-profits get discounts
(Gave Degagé Ministries monitors for $10 each)
(Sold to Schools for labs all over the county)
Machine comes with software and an OS, keep the OS with the machine
They make recommendations to their clients for upgrading their OS

Comprenew Academy:
Teaching sustainability practices
Offers agencies and non-profit sustainability education as well
Hope Network, retaining, and financial, taking apart computers, factory work
AARP, job retraining factory
Internships and volunteers at the center constantly

Computers 101?
Community, not really involved yet

Repair services, cheaper than Best Buy
Support offered at the facility

I asked if Comprenew would be interested in contributing to the conversation, Lynell was interested in contributing AND partnering in some way. She mentioned that we could call her anytime and that this sort of initiative is much needed in the community. I gave her my email, phone number, and the blog url too.

Check out the Comprenew website here.

recycle@comprenew.org
616.451.4400
629 Ionia Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
U.S.A.

A Conversation with Lee Weber

Posted in conversations, discovery stages, donations, meetings, organization, planning, projects, wifi by forgr on February 29, 2008

I met with Lee for lunch on Tuesday. We talked for quite a while about the wireless project here in the city, the infrastructure, the troubles, and the future.

The more meetings and conversations I have with people in my community, the more wildly apparent it becomes that there IS a need for something like this in this area. There’s a need for a program that provides potable technology, includes tools, offers education, and is dedicated to support.

I think the most inspiring thing about our meeting was that she believed in this project and the concept. She seemed like a supporter and wanted to stay in the conversation too.

Past the initial business plan, the pilot program may be the next goal. She suggested that we piggyback with an existing non-profit organization so that all donations are tax deductible for their donors (that was one of our largest barriers for a pilot program). They would also lend major credibility to our effort as well.

To get the pilot off the ground, that leaves:

• a venue for the event
• recipients
• volunteers, lots of smart volunteers
• a venue
• tracking, note-taking tools
• a fearless leader
• a fearless planning committee
• time

She gave me some new contacts as well, my list now is 40 people long. I thought it was shorter… phew! But I’ve made contact and had valuable conversations with 15 individuals… so 25 more right? At least.

Thank you Lee. I hope to talk to you again sometime soon.

Pilot program, thoughts

I met with some chums for lunch this week to discuss a potential pilot program for the laptop project. I woke up early a few mornings ago and started writing ideas down for (potentially) getting this program started. IF this workshop/program/organization is truly needed in our community, it’s going to need to get rolling some time soon right?

I know I’m really getting ahead of myself here, and I know that I’m going to need about 10 more people to help me think about this (that are as crazy as I am) but I need to get this stuff out before I convince myself that this is all a waste of time.

So here goes.

“Geek-a-thon”

WHO?Programmers, Developers, IT people/tech support, Students, anyone who wants to learn or has anything to offer.

WHAT? Round up computers (3 each to begin with), clear them off, record problems, install Ubuntu, install Open Office, install Firefox, plug ins, mark favorites, test, and make the homepage the portal or intranet, create aliases on the desktop. Give ready laptops to people. Eat pizza, drink beer, down monsters. Brainstorm about the concept, talk about potential problems, get opinions.

WHERE? Any large space with outlets, tables, centrally located, able to have food and drinks, stay as long as we want.

WHY? Introduce the program, get computers ready, get ideas from the community, get ideas for education, bring the community together on a level playing ground, do something good for the area, get sign ups for volunteers, get feedback, get potential donors, talk about their next steps.

WHEN? Friday into Saturday? (how long does it take to do?) Overnight, during the weekend? Several dates?

HOW? List from colleges, universities, corporations, studios of possible participants. Make checklist of process. Get an organizational committee together, create website to register participants.

___________________

Other notes:

Press Release?

Play Wii and XBox games?

Music

Display ideas centrally, white boards or large sticky notes on a huge wall

Make sure everyone knows why they are doing what they are doing, get them to feel like they are participating in forming, improving, and nurturing their community.

Video taped? Photos? Audio testamonials?

Make sure everyone knows what their role is next, after the even(s) how can I help?

Get ideas for good links for audiences, (children, single moms, elderly, special needs, manufacturing employees etc.)

Portal/Intranet exploration

___________________

So, Scott thinks that before we do this, we need to legally be a non-profit, we need to have people already in line to get these machines, potentially run the program with just one area of the community (he suggests my street).

I have reservations, that’s four steps ahead. That’s too advanced for a pilot program. I want to fail fast. He suggested that I give one to my little sister, but she has a computer. What does she do with it? Play free online games, and type huge letters in Word… but she’s seven. AND that’s all she’s been taught that computers can do.

So who? Who are idea candidates? How can we support them at this stage in the game? How can it start?

I don’t have my notebook that I took notes with with me this evening, so I’ll comment later, but shoot, I’m stumped and I’m scared, but then again I was scared about the block party too…

MSU list of grants for nonprofits, resources

Posted in bookmarks, discovery stages, donations, hardware resources, partners, players, research by forgr on February 12, 2008

A pretty good list. Thanks for the leg work MSU

“A compilation of web pages and books of potential interest to nonprofit organizations seeking funding opportunities related to computer technology.”

http://www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/2comptec.htm