2015 Technology Matching Fund Grants


Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell (left) welcomes the 2015 Technology Matching Fund recipients to City Hall.

STEM programs, community radio stations, English language and literacy training, job finding assistance, expanding and upgrading computer labs for disadvantaged kids and low-income seniors, the recipients of the 2015 Technology Matching Funds grants have projects as diverse as their backgrounds.

Part of Seattle’s commitment to digital equity, the Technology Matching Fund provides grants annually up to $30,000 for technology projects.  City dollars are matched by the community’s contribution of volunteer labor, materials, professional services, or cash.  The next grant deadline will be in March, 2016. The Technology Matching Fund seeks to improve digital equity by connecting populations that have limited access to technology, empowering residents with digital literacy skills, building capacity for diverse communities to use technology for civic participation.

This year the City awarded grants to 22 local nonprofit groups. A sample project included:

  • The Big-Brained Superheroes Club will provide a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program for youth from Yesler Terrace, ages 8 and up.

The Coalition for Refugees from Burma will use the funds to purchase new laptops and provide basic computer literacy courses for newly arrived refugee adults, conduct trainings for parents of school aged youth to support their children’s education, and offer enrichment programs to engage youth with high-tech concepts and careers.

Seattle’s Millionair Club plans to expand the current computer lab from eight workstations to 32 to become a Workforce Development site and provide job safety training, financial literacy, and online educational opportunities.

Sound Care Child Solutions wants to provide tablets for classrooms in 30 Sound Child Care Centers and train teachers how to use them, share with parents on devices, and translate into the home language of the family.

If you have a local nonprofit and want more information on Technology Matching Funds grant you can go to the Community Technology website, read Brainstorm e-zine or follow Community Technology on Facebook  or Twitter @diginclusion. This year half of the recipients had never received grants before. Maybe you can be one of the many success stories.

Best of luck to all of the nonprofit recipients. We look forward to seeing the lives you enriched through your programs.

See more here.

TMF success: UW Women’s Center’s Making Connections

In this issue of Brainstorm, you read about this year’s TMF Awards.  Have you ever wondered what happens to the money?  We wanted to take a look back and see how a past recipient utilized its Technology Matching funds.  In 2014, The University of Washington’s Women’s Center’s Making Connections (MC) program received a Technology Literacy and Access grant for $14,399 to “provide enriching educational and character-building experiences for underrepresented Seattle-area high school girls to achieve in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).”

In the 2014-2015 academic year, MC served more than 105 students from 23 high schools in the greater Seattle area.  In addition to new computers at the center, other components of the program include mentoring, tutoring, career exploration, and founding a local chapter of the national “Girls Who Code” program to support MC students who want to pursue computer science. See more here.

Making Connections (MC) also provided opportunities for students to explore careers in STEM fields, which focus on providing a better understanding of what different companies (Boeing, Microsoft, Google, etc.) are like through hearing first-hand from managers and employees themselves. See more here.

“The most important experience of this event was hearing and networking with the Google employees. You learn so much from their past experience to better prepare yourself for your future. I now know that I can still explore different careers, and still have time to find my passion. Also, it was great to see what the Google company has to offer,” said one student who went to Google to participate in a hands-on activity where students could make their own designs for a product.

Mentoring is another core element of the MC program that offers students the ability to work one-on-one with a mentor who can provide them academic, professional, and personal guidance as they prepare for life after high school. Mentors have served in a variety of different fields and include college students, working professionals, and even former Making Connections students who want to give back. Mentors meet one-on-one with their mentees each month, and are up-to-date on resources that can assist their students. – See more here.


New Deputy CTO Brings a Wealth of Corporate Experience

schoentrupFor the last seven years, Will Schoentrup has been the Vice President of IT for Sur La Table. He oversaw all aspects of strategic IT planning, implementation and support for 120 national locations, 55 culinary schools, a distribution center, corporation location and ecommerce platform.  In addition to developing a comprehensive technology roadmap for IS infrastructure replacement, Will provided technical leadership on Sur La Table’s web site and ecommerce platform, negotiated telecommunications contracts and established a security division to bring the corporation into PCI compliance within five months for the first time in company history.

“I’m looking forward to collaborating with the Community Technology Advisory Board,” added Schoentrup, “CTAB and Community Technology have done great work improving digital equity and I look forward to meeting more of those goals and contributing to future accomplishments.”

A native of Issaquah, Washington, Will possesses a BA in Political Science from the University of Washington. Prior to his corporate experience, Will served as an officer is the US Navy. Will started with the City on Monday, July 13, and looks forward to meeting our IT professionals and customers across departments.

Seattle Is Getting a New Cable Operator!

For as long as most people can remember, Seattle’s had only two cable companies operating in the City: Comcast (formerly AT&T/TCI) and Wave (formerly Broadstripe/Millennium).  Depending upon where you live in the City, you probably had only one of these companies as a cable option, because cable companies traditionally have not built their systems into areas where they would be in competition with another cable operator. But now there is good news for many Seattle neighborhoods. Another company, CenturyLink, has decided to enter the Seattle market and will be a new competitor to existing cable operators.

CenturyLink has been preparing for this business expansion by upgrading its system around the City to make it capable for delivering cable television, high speed internet and phone services.  The upgraded system (which uses high speed fiber optics in many areas) is reported to pass approximately 100,000 households throughout the following neighborhoods:

Ballard, Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, Central District and Rainier Valley, Delridge, Green Lake, International District, Lake City, Leschi, Montlake, University District, Ravenna, and West Seattle.

If you live in an area where CenturyLink has upgraded its system and is capable of offering its television service (called PRISM TV), you’re likely going to receive a door hanger or other message from CenturyLink to alert you to the new service option. Another way to see whether your address is able to have CenturyLink as a cable option is to visit their web site and click on Check for Prism TV in My Area.

While CenturyLink has already been operating as a phone and internet service provider in Seattle, offering cable television services requires the company to have a cable franchise agreement with the City. The franchise agreement commits the company to operating under certain customer service and safety standards, and to pay a franchise fee to the City as ‘rent’ for using the public rights-of-way for the cable system. This required franchise agreement was recently approved by the City Council and Mayor (see it here: Ordinance 124810). It allows CenturyLink to begin offering its PRISM television service to Seattleites beginning August 17, 2015.

For more information on the City’s process of approving CenturyLink’s new cable franchise, go here. For more information on the customer service standards required of all Seattle cable operators, see the Office of Cable Communication’s Customer Service Bill of Rights.

BYOD Policy

In today’s technology world there are many reasons why you could allow users to use their own devices for work.  As a technical person, it makes no business sense to have tools that I purchase for myself and my organization that must be used on a separate device.  If you allow users to use their own devices, be  aware of where data is stored. What if that device is lost or stolen? How would this affect you? Do you have a policy applicable to a person using that device?

Areas you should consider when writing up a BYOD policy are:

  • Anti-Virus software: What is your policy for this?
  • Password security: Is there a password to access the device?
  • Backing up data: If anything is stored locally to the device, how is it backed up?
  • Firewalls: Can the device be accessed remotely?
  • Access to your system: Is there a policy for physical device security?
  • Expectation of privacy: Should the user give you permission to access the device?
  • Work related expenses on a BYOD device
  • Special Software: Who owns it? How does it get installed? Who supports it?

Stop. Think. Connect.

Be a good cyber citizen by own your online presence.

Take security precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.

STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.

THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.

CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.  For more information about owning your online presence and for information about how to protect your digital life, go here.

Digital Equity Plan update

The City is wrapping up the first phase of work on a Digital Equity Initiative. A draft vision statement, principles and goals have been developed with the tremendous help so far from 17 interviewees, four community roundtables and a team from multiple departments with a community, education, faith and industry Digital Equity Action Committee. See the draft on our Digital Equity web site. Over the next six months, we will be identifying and assessing specific strategies for implementation. Look for this late in the year or to be announced with a splash early next year. Starting next month, we will also be accepting comments and ideas for action the City and community together can take to move digital equity forward in Seattle. Two Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) committees (Digital Inclusion and Cable and Broadband) are using their meetings to generate and discuss ideas. The public is welcome to participate in these. Contact David.keyes@seattle.gov if you are interested or sign up for the committee listserv to stay up to date.