Geeks for America's Pilot Year
With an initial grant from the Boston Foundation, TechFoundation selected Jason Wilson, who was placed in a three-month pilot fellowship at the Media and Technology Charter High School (MATCH) in Boston. Jason supported all of the information technology activities of the school. As intended, the pilot program gave TechFoundation the opportunity to revise the program structure, finalize the recruitment strategy and build a technology-training program.
Building on the success of the pilot program, TechFoundation launched the first full-year Geeks for America program in Boston. During this year’s first round, we explored different models of site placements, including placing more than one Geek at sites with multiple information technology needs and having Geeks work at more than one host site. Our first Geek, Jason Wilson, stayed on and was joined by five additional Geeks: Norman Eng, Marie Charpentier, Nuno Meireles, Sharon Huang and Anselmo Ribiero. These six talented fellows worked full-time at four nonprofit host sites throughout Boston. At each site, the Geeks are becoming fully integrated into the organization’s technology operations and spearheading a variety of pre-determined projects.
At Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (a community development corporation in South Boston), Geeks assisted with the Villa Tech project to wire 884 low-income housing units to provide intranet and Internet access to residents. Geeks also maintained the IBA technology infrastructure which included a community computer lab as well as a Cisco Systems designed cable modem network
At Boys and Girls Club of Boston, Geeks maintained a wide area network linking the computer systems of the five Boston-area clubhouses in addition to supporting the computer-based educational programs at the clubs as well as the finance and administration departments at the downtown Boston headquarters
At the McCormack Institute – Center for Social Policy housed at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Geeks were involved in providing support and training on CSPTech (Connection, Service, and Partnership through Technology), a networked computerized record-keeping system that allows more than 100 homeless service providers across Greater Massachusetts to collect uniform client information over time. In addition to CSPTech, Geeks also evaluated software for the Homeless Service Tracking System funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
At the Media and Technology Charter High School (a charter high school in Boston) Geeks supported the entire technical infrastructure for the school, including three computer laboratories and a roving laboratory consisting of laptops and wireless access cards. In addition to the technical support, Geeks taught courses on Beginning Web Design and Internet Basics to MATCH students.