Last year, Ben Weaver was part of a pioneering program begun by Google and run by AmeriCorps and Pittsburgh Cares. He and two others were hired to help 33 local nonprofits assess their technology needs and create a plan to use technology more efficiently and effectively.
The program worked so well, says Weaver, that a fresh team is being recruited to help more local nonprofits improve their technology use. (Use the two-step application process here
Called HandsOn Tech VISTA, the program helps nonprofits take better advantage of everything from printers to database management. Weaver says team members also recruit local volunteers to make nonprofits' tech plans a reality, and hold workshops on better tech use for an even larger group of nonprofits. Team members start the program at Google HQ in Mountain View, California, where they meet with the nonprofit arms of LinkedIn, Facebook, and other charitable tech companies.
"Almost all the nonprofits we reviewed," Weaver says, "could use a revision to their website, or a replacement. There is also a large need for data management -- from member tracking for human services organizations to crime tracking for some of the community development organizations. Just having a technology plan that they can use going forward tends to be valuable to them."
Team members get a biweekly living allowance, health insurance and educational benefits from joining. And Weaver says a tech background isn't necessarily a requirement for applicants. He spent three years doing tech support in Shadyside's Apple store, but his fellow team members have marketing and political science backgrounds.
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Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Ben Weaver, HandsOn Tech VISTA