Technology can make collaboration easier, cut costs and help operations run more efficiently. Unfortunately, the organizations trying to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems—nonprofits—often lack resources to fully take advantage of technology to further their causes.
That’s why we worked with the HandsOn Network, a Points of Light Enterprise, to create HandsOn Tech, an initiative that pairs U.S. nonprofits with individuals who are passionate about technology and looking to make a difference. Last year, we funded 24 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions. These VISTA members provided technology training to more than 1,300 small, poverty-focused nonprofits nationwide. Further, these VISTA participants engaged skilled volunteers, including lots of Googlers, to assist nearly 200 nonprofits in creating individualized, comprehensive tech plans that will help them to work more efficiently.
Each HandsOn Tech VISTA project varies based on different nonprofit needs. In the past year, projects have included:
- Migrating Dreams for Kids, a Chicago nonprofit empowering at-risk and disabled youth, to Google Apps—enabling them to more efficiently and effectively collaborate without the restriction of limited office space.
- Building a dynamic website and social media strategy for Doing Art Together, a NYC-based nonprofit providing hands-on programming and GED prep for under-resourced youth.
- Using Google Maps and Fusion Tables to help Atlanta’s The Drake House create a map that helps staff better visualize the local homeless population in order to more effectively distribute their services.
The program has been so successful that we’re expanding—it will now include one additional city and 28 new VISTA positions, with the goal of reaching even more nonprofits. The new HandsOnTech VISTAs will start in August with a one week training at our campus in Mountain View, Calif., where they’ll learn about cloud-based tools from a variety of technology companies including the Google For Nonprofits suite that allows many nonprofits to use free online advertising, Google Apps and YouTube channels. Once they are armed with tech know-how they’ll spend the rest of the year in two and three-person teams serving nonprofits in the Bay Area, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Pittsburgh and Seattle.
HandsOn Tech is accepting applications for VISTA members now through June 27. If you’re passionate about technology and helping nonprofits on the front line of fighting poverty, then we hope you’ll apply!