Friday, March 26, 2004

Here is an interesting Report from the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation regarding its initial evaluation of its Community Access to Technology Program grants.
Since 1999, the Community Access to Technology (CAT) program has made grants to a wide variety of Washington State nonprofits for the purpose of engaging their clients in hands-on use of technology, and providing training so that these clients can work on improving their lives and meeting their personal goals. Grants have supported organizations working with diverse populations, including: Youth, Homeless Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Native Americans, Immigrants, and Rural Communities. To evaluate the accomplishments, effectiveness, and lessons learned from the CAT program to date, MGS Consulting studied a large sample of CAT grantees. Highlights from the initial evaluation show:
* The grantee's clients are primarily working on educational and employment goals. Other often-cited goals include personal growth & social inclusion, information-seeking, and independence (particular to persons with disabilities).
* Grantees have been able to sustain new staff positions. Ninety-three percent of grantees continue to operate their projects successfully and have maintained new CAT project staff positions. However, grantees reported that staff and executive turnover and finding qualified staff as the biggest challenge to successful implementation and operation of projects.
* Goals have been met or exceeded. 79% of grantees met or exceeded their own program delivery goals, and over half report serving as many or more persons than anticipated.
This is the first year of a multi-year study. Subsequent years will attempt to measure whether clients are achieving meaningful outcomes (better jobs; improved grades, etc) through their participation in these community technology programs.
The full report can be found at: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/PacificNorthwest/CommunityAccessTechnology/CAT_Evaluation.htm

The CAT Program makes grants in Washington State only. Other than our work with Public Libraries, the Gates Foundation has no other grant programs that fund community technology projects, nationally or internationally. More information on the Gates Foundation and its programs can be found at www.gatesfoundation.org .

Ken Thompson
Program Officer, Community Access to Technology
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Box 23350 : Seattle, WA 98102

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