Friday, October 21, 2005

Joshua Cousin - The Bookman 

Joshua Cousin has joined the Technology For All staff as the Community Technology Center assistant at South Union CDC, the first new site of TFA's Community Technology 2.0 project.
Joshua is a new resident of Houston from New Orleans and was introduced to TFA when he came to the ACT Center (Astrodome Community Technology Center Report -PDF file) at Houston's Astrodome to write in his blog. Joshua hopes to begin attending college at a Houston area university in the Spring. Joshua writes his own blog at http://booknote.blogspot.com/

Empowering Our Communities 

Technology For All
Presents the
Fourth Annual Community Technology Conference
Community Technology Awards Presentation
It was confirmed today that Laura Breedon will speak at TFA's "Empowering Our Communities" Conference. Laura Breeden is the director of the America Connects Consortium (ACC), based at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, MA. ACC was established by the U.S. Department of Education in 2000 to strengthen community technology centers across the nation, by providing training, information, tools, and other resources that build organizational effectiveness. From 1996 to 2000, Ms. Breeden was an independent consultant focusing on Internet strategies and organizational development, based in Menlo Park, California. Her clients included SRI International (Menlo Park), the Morino Institute (Reston, VA), the James Irvine Foundation (San Francisco), and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), as well as other leading institutions that study, develop, and promote the use of network technologies. From 1994 to 1996, Ms. Breeden was director of a highly competitive, multi-million dollar federal grant program (now known as TOP) designed to demonstrate the benefits of the "information superhighway" in the public sector. Under her leadership, more than 200 organizations received a total of $60 million for innovative community projects, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Ms. Breeden also spent eight years in industry, developing Internet services for educational and research organizations. Born in Kentucky, she is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Several other workshops focused on community empowerment, including empowering the new Katrina evacuee community, will be a feature of the conference in Houston, Friday, November 4, 2005. A unique panel discussion with Katrina evacuees and volunteers who spent 19 days working with evacuees at the Astrodome and Reliant City will be a feature of the conference as we also discuss "Community Technology 2.0" and our next steps in serving both existing CTC constituents and the 150,000+ new residents in Houston from Louisiana. Don't miss an opportunity to meet other community technology leaders and resource providers! At this exclusive event, gain new tools and resources to learn how you can work together to accomplish your mutual goals for the community! Also, celebrate together over lunch with community leaders recognized with awards for their leadership and vision in serving the community. Don't miss the opportunity for enrichment!
Friday, November 4, 2005
United Way Community Resource Center
50 Waugh DriveHouston, TX 77007
9 AM to 4 PM ~ check-in at 8:30 AM
Registration Levels
-$10 Students
$20 Nonprofits and community technology centers
$30 All others
$40 at the door on the day of the event
Click here to register NOW!or call Pam Gardner, 713.454.6415.
For more information
Also FEATURING... Art McGee, NASA Resources, Digital Media for Youth, Security needs for CTCs, Awards, Door Prizesand other tools to serve your community including our new neighbors from Louisiana!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Community Technology 2.0 

Community Technology 2.0 to Support Hurricane Recovery
Technology For All, Houston Hope and South Union Community Development, Inc. Unveil Ongoing Effort with Evacuees in Houston’s Low-Income Neighborhoods

HOUSTON, October 7, 2005 – Today Technology For All (TFA) announced its ongoing Hurricane recovery plans in collaboration with South Union Community Development, Inc. and community technology centers serving Houston Hope and other low-income neighborhoods across Houston. Starting first with a new community technology center (CTC) at South Union Community Development, Inc. (South Union CDC), Technology For All will facilitate the implementation of “Community Technology 2.0”, a broad effort to train and support up to twenty (20) community technology centers (CTCs) involved in hurricane recovery efforts in addition to their ongoing activities to address the needs of their neighborhoods.
According to FEMA data, an estimated 57,000+ new residences (175,000+ persons) have been established in the Houston area by Katrina and Rita evacuees. Many have established residence in one of the designated Houston Hope neighborhoods. Sunnyside, for example, which is served in part by the South Union, has experienced an estimated 20% increase in population as over 3,500 persons have moved into the community. Other Houston Hope neighborhoods have also experienced significant increases in population as Katrina evacuees have established new homes in a new city. With almost one thousand new residents, Clinton Park, a relatively small neighborhood of 2,400, has added 30% to its population. Many Katrina evacuees have established new homes in Houston Hope and other low-income Houston neighborhoods served by TFA affiliated community technology centers.
During the weeks immediately following the Katrina disaster, Technology For All was active in providing supportive services with the thousands of Katrina residents of the Reliant Astrodome and Reliant City Complex. TFA created the ACT Centers (Astrodome and Arena Community Technology Centers) as well as a 110 computer station community technology center at the Reliant Center. With the assistance of over 300 volunteers who provided almost 11,000 hours of volunteer service, TFA assisted Katrina evacuees find and reconnect with loved ones, register online for various services and gain the computer skills necessary for assimilation into a new life and a new city. With a total of 210 Internet connected computers at all three locations in Reliant City, numerous corporate contributions made the project possible. Corporate contributors to the project included SBC, Yahoo, AMD, SimHouston, Plains All American Pipeline, Reliant Energy, Motion Computing, Trend Micro, CompuCycle and HP.
Community Technology 2.0 will take the ACT Center project to the logical next step. It is also an extension of the ongoing needs that community technology centers address with existing residents in Houston’s low-income and under-resourced neighborhoods. In working with over 16,000 Katrina evacuees during 19 days at Reliant City, TFA identified several key needs of the evacuee community. Many evacuees have limited computer and literacy skills. Many tools for effective assimilation into the Houston culture and community are online. TFA will replicate the lessons learned in working with the Katrina evacuee community and implement a training program for Katrina evacuees to gain the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to participate successfully in Houston’s information society. TFA will pilot the new program in collaboration with South Union CDC which is establishing a new community technology center at its facility at the corner of Lydia and Tierwester Street in the South Union neighborhood near 288 and 610 South. As the pilot is underway, TFA, working with Houston Hope, will choose up to 20 additional sites in Houston Hope and other low-income neighborhoods. These sites for expansion will be in collaboration with existing CTCs or CTCs under development.
TFA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to empowering under-resourced communities using the tools of technology. TFA provides various services, including workforce training, recycling and redeployment of corporate technology assets, document-conversion services for the business community, online content for workforce training, and consulting and leadership in its work with over 350 community organizations operating community technology centers (CTCs) in Houston and 56 other U.S. cities. Since 1997, TFA-Houston has assisted Houston-area community-based organizations in creating and developing more than 210 CTCs serving low-income and under-resourced communities.
“Technology For All is focused on expanding our services to the communities we serve,” said TFA’s President and Chief Executive Officer Will Reed. “Today, with our new Katrina neighbors, we have an opportunity and responsibility to help them gain the tools they need to assimilate into a new life in a new city. CTCs are in a unique position to serve a variety of needs with our new neighbors”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for South Union CDC to serve both our existing community and the new residents who have become a part of our community,” said South Union CDC Board President Efrem Jernigan. “We want to do our part to welcome and work with our new neighbors.”


Technology For All (TFA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on empowering low-income and under-resourced communities using the tools of technology. In the Houston area, Technology For All-Houston has helped create and develop over 210 community technology centers (CTCs) in collaboration with community-based organizations across the region. Nationally TFA provides supportive services to over 360 individual CTCs in 56 U.S. cities. TFA’s local and national offices are located in Houston’s East End at 2220 Broadway, Houston, Texas 77012; phone: 713-454-6400. For more see http://www.techforall.org/ .

South Union Community Development, Inc. (SUCDI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization endeavoring to bring a “Ray of Hope” to the South Union and surrounding communities with the awareness that “Achieving Goals is Obtainable with Knowledge and Technology.” South Union CDI is located at 3601 Lydia, Houston, Texas 77054; phone: 713-747-7002 or 713-419-8352. For more, see
http://www.southunioncdi.org/ .

Houston Hope (HH) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working together to create hope in several of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods. Houston Hope represents the private sector side of a collaborative public/private initiative that will improve the quality of life in designated Houston Hope neighborhoods and bring hope for a brighter future to their residents. Houston Hope offices are located at 2220 Broadway, Houston, Texas 77012; phone 713.454.6464. For more see
http://www.houstonhope.org/ .

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Quick Stats and Factoids 

ACT Center
(Astrodome Community Technology Center)

Quick Stats

· 210 Computers in 3 locations—Astrodome, Reliant Center (including a children’s center), and in the Reliant Arena.
· Served approximately 16,000 clients over 19 days (Adults, Children and Youth)
· 307 volunteers provided over 10,800 hours of volunteer service
· 22,557 family records entered
· 2000+ family members reunited (approx.)
· Volunteers also assisted clients with housing and job searches, relocation issues, FEMA applications and setting up email and using other online tools
· TFA-Wireless facilitated roving volunteers to work with clients on the floor of the astrodome in addition to in the ACT Center.


Technology For All’s (TFA) efforts, and a generous donation by SBC, to provide broadband Internet access, created the ACT Center in less than 36 hours in a facility built nearly 40 years ago. This access not only enabled the ACT Center to provide the services it did, but also enabled the Red Cross to implement its IT infrastructure in the Astrodome as well as provide Internet connections and information for other organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Continental Airlines, which provided one-way tickets to reconnect families.

Reliant Energy provided the equipment, installation and ongoing support for over 50 computers located at the Reliant Center. Reliant Energy also provided the equipment for networking the computers to the internet as well as numerous printers. In addition to the computer equipment and support Reliant Energy volunteers staffed both the Astrodome and Reliant Center CTCs.

Trend Micro provided anti-virus solutions for the 60+ PCs located in Reliant Arena and Reliant Center.

SimHouston and CompuCycle worked together to prepare the initial 40 machines for installation at the Astrodome. Compucycle provided the computers and equipment. SimHouston provided software.

Plains All American Pipeline provided TFA 20 computers prepared with a complete software load and ready for installation at the Reliant Arena. These computers have been redeployed by TFA into a community technology center (CTC) at the South Union Community Development Corporation in service to the over 1000 evacuee families that have moved into the neighborhood.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) donated 150 Personal Internet Communicator (PICs) devices, which not only helped families find loved ones, but which also gave kids a chance to surf the Internet, and play on children’s Web sites. These PICs are being redeployed at CTCs serving the evacuee community in the greater Houston area.

HP provided the use of 15 laptops for the paging center and ongoing registration efforts.

A total of 210 computers and PICS were installed by TFA and its corporate and community partners at the Astrodome, Reliant Center and Reliant Arena.

Staff from TFA worked together with Yahoo engineers to assist in the creation of a customized portal / search engine that crawled the disparate Web sites and databases, which helped to connect family members throughout the country and even the World. Yahoo reports that its site received more traffic over the Labor Day weekend after Katrina than at any other time in Yahoo history.

The ACT Center enabled evacuees to set up email accounts, which was required to check the status of FEMA applications online. Many evacuees were unable to get in touch with a FEMA representative by phone, as the phone lines were overwhelmed. (Setting up an ISAAC account with FEMA, required to check the status of an application, required an email address that a PIN was emailed to.)

TFA quickly collaborated with Yahoo personnel to quickly code and network the paging system capability, which for many, was the only way for separated family members to find each other in the multiple, enormous facilities where thousands of persons were residing in shelters.

The ACT Center fax machine purchased by TFA was used not only utilized by TFA and the ACT Center volunteers to obtain birth certificates and replacement driver’s licenses, but also by many agencies and organizations located in the Astrodome, including FEMA and the Red Cross. TFA’s fax machine was the only FAX machine available to all agencies in the building and to evacuees.

SBC donated CallNotes numbers which not only provided a way for dislocated loved ones to find each other online and then contact each other, but CallNotes also allowed for evacuees to register online for FEMA. The FEMA online registration system required one contact number to be entered. Without the SBC donation of CallNotes, we would have been forced to enter a non working number like 000-000-0000.

When evacuees located missing loved ones in the ATC Center, they were invited to ring a cowbell. Each time it rang, it brought hope to all evacuees in the room, and the room would erupt into applause, hugs, and joyful tears.

ACT Center volunteers continue to assist Katrina evacuees and additional volunteer support is needed by TFA at twenty (20) local CTCs. The impact of working with disconnected and impoverished evacuees, combined with the empowerment that the technology provides, is creating not only a renewed sense of volunteerism, but a realization by evacuees of the true power that technology tools can bring to their lives. VOLUNTEER TODAY! Contact Pam.Gardner@techforall.org or call her at 713.454.6415

Check out the summary ACT Center Report (pdf) at http://www.techforall.org/TFA_051003_ACTCtrRpt-v4.pdf

2220 Broadway
Houston, Texas 77012

MARTA Rocks 

See the note below from Eugenia, one of our most active and dedicated volunteers. She writes of Marta, a volunteer from Chicago who showed up at the ACT Center at the dome to help. Marta and Eugenia assisted Larry, a Katrina evacuee.

"Hey everyone,
Larry arrived in Chicago today, where Marta picked him up at the airport, took him to the luxe hotel she had arranged for him at the medical center, and got him into an orthopedic specialist about his arm and shoulder. He called me tonight and said he was going back in for an MRI (tomorrow?) and that in the meantime he was trying to decide which of the two beds in his room to sleep in (he'd been sharing an apartment in Houston with about 8 other people so it was quite a luxury for him to have two beds to himself).
Thanks Marta!"

Will Reed

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