August 2012

Community Tech Projects Get $320K in Grants

Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Tech Matching Fund grantees outside city hall before the grants were approved by the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee.

Mayor Mike McGinn and the City Council announced on July 23 that 23 community organizations will receive a total of $320,000 in Technology Matching Fund grants. The funds will increase computer and Internet training for our most vulnerable residents as well as help them with basic education, job training, and access to health and other essential services.

These grants are part of the City’s overall broadband effort to encourage digital inclusion for all (or broadband adoption), fiber to the home and business, a technology-skilled workforce, and local applications development. Participants will gain skills in using social media, assistive technologies, audio and video production, and digital storytelling, in addition to basic computer and Internet skills.

The grants support projects serving a wide range of neighborhoods in Seattle. Barton Place Apartments, located in Rainier Beach, is receiving a $14,658 grant to set up a mini computer lab in their SHA housing building. Resident Sydney Koerber said that having access to a computer “is a dream come true. I’m over 60 years old and I want to get my GED. It’s never too late to learn.”

Grants will also help support families. Tony Benton, working with Atlantic Street Center, is excited to receive $19,770 to help parents of young children, “a vital group that is digitally excluded,” he said. “If a parent doesn’t know how to use a computer and understand the value of it, the child starts out falling behind,” said Benton. “This grant will help not only reach parents of small children, but also grandparents and seniors who are going through the parenting process,” he said.

The Technology Matching Fund is managed by the Department of Information Technology’s Community Technology Program and was established in 1997 to support the community’s efforts to close the digital divide and encourage the use of information technologies for civic engagement. Since its beginning the fund has contributed more than $2 million to more than 200 projects. The fund furthers the City’s commitment to education, inclusion, and race and social justice. For more information, go here, or email

See a list of 2012 projects here.

See a map of 2012 TMF grantees here.

Read more about the grants and what Mayor McGinn and Councilmember Bruce Harrell had to say here.


Low Income Students, Low Cost Internet

The start of a new school year is only weeks away. Having access to the Internet at home can be an important resource for students. Comcast and CenturyLink can help low-income households afford Internet service – and a computer – with special low-cost programs.

If you or someone you know is interested in getting Internet service for the school year, check out this overview for details comparing the two programs and contact information.

Two Languages; One Computer Training Class: A Recipe for Success

Teaching a basic computer training class for adults can be challenging. When you add students who speak little English, that challenge increases. Yet with Helping Link’sbilingual evening computer classes they’ve found that combining one instructor fluent in Vietnamese and another in English works beautifully. Except for one problem: finding volunteer instructors with the necessary language and instructional skills.

Fortunately, one of Helping Link’s strengths is the commitment of their incredible team of over more than 100 volunteers. Shally Nguyen, one of their newest volunteers, is a Vietnamese student attending Bellevue College. A business major, she brought with her an impressive work ethic and skills honed by working in her family’s businesses back home.

Over the last six months, she’s become an important member of the Helping Link family. When they needed a Vietnamese instructor for the current quarter’s computer classes, Shally seemed a perfect candidate.

Classes are designed to provide a comfortable and familiar learning environment for Vietnamese-American adult students. Many students join the class to gain a basic knowledge of computers in order to understand and monitor their children’s home use of technology and social media. Others are interested gaining new and upgraded skills that improve their employability. And everyone seems to want to learn how to better communicate using tools like email, Skype, and Facebook. The ability to communicate with friends and family, both locally and globally, becomes more important each day.

Shally and her fellow instructors help students achieve their goals with patience and understanding. Because information is available in both languages, instruction is provided in Vietnamese, when appropriate, while encouraging students to develop better English skills by hearing and responding to that language.

This team teaching builds community, computer and language skills, thanks to the commitment and skills of Helping Link volunteers like Shally. Article submitted by Minh-Duc Pham Nguyen, Executive Director of Helping Link.

Great Web Training for Lab Staff

The Communities Connect Network/EdLab Group, in partnership with Workforce Development Council, is offering a series of valuable free training webinars to help staff and volunteers teach applied job skills to clients, using online tools. Mark your calendar and register through the detailed event listings here.

Aug 15, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Job Search Skills in the New Economy: Steps 1-4: The Foundation Skills

August 22, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Job Search Skills in the New Economy: Steps 5-10: Creating Relationships and Getting the Job

August 28, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Using the Self-Sufficiency Calculator (SSC) for Career and Financial Planning

September 10, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.: Financial Fitness: Financial Tips and Tools for Case Managers

September 10, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.: Financial Fitness: Credit Reports and Scores-Your Financial Report Card

The Communities Connect Network (CCN) works to ensure digital inclusion and technology opportunities for all residents of Washington State. Funding for this training series was provided in part by the Federal Stimulus BTOP Public Computing Center grant. For more information about these programs and the Communities Connect Network (CCN), please contact Leslie Rae Schmitz, Senior Project Director for Digital Inclusion or (425) 477-4741 x 4778.

Collaboration Works: STAR Center and Open Doors for Multicultural Families


A multicultural integrative approach to youth job readiness training for low-income families with youth with disabilities who are English language learners enrolled in special education in Seattle Schools. 20 youth are enrolled in this valuable program, which covers workplace expectations, hygiene, conflict resolution, and appropriate communication in the work place and the use of computers and assistive technology. The program includes 12 hours of Parent Training to school engagement to support student attendance and academic engagement, and monitor their child’s progress in school and job readiness skills. It also includes training to parents in accessing the SOURCE to view their youth’s attendance and academic progress. For many parents this is an introduction to technology, such as basic computer skills, access to internet, create their first email account to correspond to school and other agencies they might be working with, in addition parents will become familiar with electronic resources with the use of computers and access to the broadband. Students and their families learn specific assistive technology skills they might need at school and work place to facilitate their leaning and their job.

Made possible through a grant from the City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) and a Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), the program takes place at the STAR Center, a universal design computer lab where students have access to state-of-the-art computers and integrate technology in their learning. Ginger Kwan, Director of Open Doors for Multicultural Families and Oscar Escalante STAR Center Director joined forces to provide these valuable skills to 20 youths in four languages. Open Doors staff includes four cultural brokers in Chinese, Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese and STAR Center includes a Technology teacher, an Independent Living Skills specialist, and an administration support staff. For more information on this program, contact Oscar Escalante. Article submitted by Oscar Escalante, Director of the STAR Center.

Multiple File Selection with Limited Hand Ability

With limited mobility, sometimes it can be hard to move files from one location to another. When you are not able to select multiple files at once due to not being able to hold down the CTRL or ALT key simultaneously, you can change your folder options to show check boxes instead. Just go to any folder and click Organize–> Folder and Search option –> View Tab –> “use check boxes to Select Items.”

Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.