ellohay! West Michigan

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

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What we need to make this work

Posted in discovery stages, planning by forgr on March 13, 2008

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Photo from flickr-user katielips, for use under creative commons license
In no particular order:

• We need to offer free laptops to our clients

• We need to offer support for our clients

• We need to offer many types of education

• We need to offer one-on-one mentoring

• We need to make sure our clients understand the power of their new tool, can help themselves, become independent of the program, and make a contribution back to the community in some way

• We need to provide several methods for our clients to contact us for support

• We need to have at least one physical presence in the city that is easily accessible

• We need to collaborate with our community and our internal team frequently

• We need to have dedicated staff for day-to-day tasks

• We need to have multi-lingual staff members

• We need to have active technology gleaners

• We need to be organized in everything we do

• We need to become an anchor in our community

• We need to be smart and fresh, honest and level

• We need an active and dedicated board of advisors

• We need people with patience, passion and empathy to help us bring this workshop into fruition

• We need to have volunteers to help organize the equipment, properly orient new clients, maintain relationships with community, offer technical support, teach classes, be mentors, evangelize, write for the blog, collect feedback, clean the workshop, be in charge of client data, write articles for monthly eNewsletters, explain the workshop and earn-a-laptop program to new-comers.

• We need to stay local and stimulate people in our community to stay active

• We need to have client events

• We need to have a solid board of directors

• We need to have a fearless leader

• We need to make sure our tools are accessible to individuals with special needs

• We need to have community partners

• We need to always stay positive and engaged

• We need to know our mission and work towards it in everything we do

• We need to solicit feedback from our community on a regular basis

• We need to be as open, honest and as transparent as possible

• We need to take care of our team members

• We need to learn from our clients

• We need to reach out to our neighbors, and engage them in the project

A Conversation with Laurie from the Community Media Center

On Thursday, I had a brief but interesting lunch conversation with Laurie from the Community Media Center here in Grand Rapids.

We first discussed some of the CMC programs in place for area nonprofits and residents, http://www.grcmc.org/nposervices and then talked about a new program coming out once the city gets its WiMax working. It’s in charge of eventually processing and granting up to 5% of the area’s residents discounted rates on WiMax. They have also taken the task of traveling to local schools and talking about the available WiMax discount to schools.

So there will be education about our new wireless access, and discounted rates from an organization in the city. I’m not meaning for that to sound small, I mean for it to sound like a step in the right direction.

I explained to Laurie about our project idea. I talked about the pilot program, the gaps in the system, and some other stuff we’re working on. She seemed genuinely excited. She all but volunteered a venue for the pilot program when I explained some of our current stumbling blocks.

I’m pretty sure she also suggested that we piggyback the CMC for the pilot so that people and companies can get tax deductions on their donations, (but I might have dreamed that part…).

Laurie agreed with several statements that I made about the large number of residents and individuals that go unacknowledged in our community. We talked about the populations of under-served, and some potential programs that aid organizations might be struggling to launch, maintain or keep afloat.

I told my two most relevant stories, Red Cross Indian Village shelter story, and next door neighbor laptop story. The Red Cross story is the one that still makes me sad to think about. I’ll tell it soon here. When I’m ready.

Laurie’s questions about the pilot and the program were great, she asked things like “So how do you avoid people from doing bad things with their computers?” and “What happens if one is lost, broken or stolen?”. I liked that she answered that in the many years that her team has been loaning out equipment, that they have had only one problem with theft. People are respectful if they know that you are a good place, and that you can trust each other.

I feel like there’s some real similarities in thoughts, missions and intent between this infant project and the CMC. It makes sense to make them part of the project family.

So that meeting went well. She gave me all of her contact info, and then headed back to her office to prepare to leave on vacation to Italy for a few weeks. She said that I could call her anytime to talk.
When I got back home, I starting drawing a revised diagram, and listing groupings of our under-served neighbors. That one’s coming soon too.

Thanks for the meeting Laurie, hope to talk with you again soon.