A great opportunity for nonprofits

Does your nonprofit have a great board? Tech Networks of Boston would like to draw your attention to an exciting opportunity! BoardSource and Prudential are awarding Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards in addition to scholarships for emerging nonprofit leaders. The awards will recognize nonprofit boards and leaders that exemplify exceptional governance. Applications are due by June 25th. The awards include one $15,000 Grand Prize and two $3,000 Honorable Mentions!

Details for the applications can be viewed here:

Exceptional Nonprofit Boards

Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarships

If you are a Tech Networks’ client, we would be honored to be listed as a contact for recommendations. Please let us know which TNB employee you would like to use when you complete the application.

Good luck to all!

New Business Showcase: Cookie Boss

TNB discovered a cool new student-run business who created cookies for our most recent BARS Boston event and for the TNB Roundtables. Cookie Boss is a Boston-based company run by students in the BUILD Boston program. These students work hard every day to create delicious treats that come in a selection of different shapes, textures and flavors. The cookies can even be designed with your company logo or picture! We ordered rectangle sugar cookie flavor of our TNB logo, round TNB logo cookies, and round BARS Boston logo cookies for our event on June 24th. The cookies come individually packaged so they are great for giving away as gifts. They tasted great too!

Cookie pic TNB logo cookies made by CookieBoss

bars cookies

 

BUILD Boston’s mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. Students create businesses at a young age and use the confidence and skills gained to propel them into college and rewarding careers.

Learn more about Cookie Boss and BUILD Boston on their site.

Susan Labandibar speaks at CommonBound Conference June 8th

Susan spoke at the CommonBound conference on June 8th about technology’s role in the new economy. This topic encompasses our strategic priority of contributing to the missions of organizations that improve our community. Susan highlighted that as the economy changes, you must also evolve the way you use technology, such as TNB using technology to create successful collaborations.

One example of the new economy creating opportunities for technology is the creation of B Corporations. Tech Networks of Boston was recently granted B Corp certification, which legally allows a company to prioritize mission over money. The government is realizing that encouraging businesses to put community before profit increases innovation for the greater good. Information Technology is becoming more and more useful for building community and the CommonBound Conference was a perfect showcase for the like.

CommonBound 2014 is the New Economy Coalition’s largest and most significant convening yet. This conference showcased a wide variety of new economy strategies, and participation from organizations such as the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Demos, Climate Justice Alliance, Shareable, PolicyLink, and more.

To learn more about the New Economy Coaltion (NEC) visit neweconomy.net.

Here is her full speech:
“ What is the new economy? It’s human scale, resourceful, restorative and compassionate. Just like in colonial times, it’s profoundly DIY and it’s profoundly democratic. But unlike colonial times, it is built on highly sophisticated technology that is so simple to use and so affordable, that almost everyone can use it.
Why is this so important to the development of the new economy? Well, let’s step back for a second and let me tell you that we already know how to live within our planetary means, even with a population of more than 7 billion people. All we need to do is reduce the standard of living worldwide to that of the average citizen of Bangladesh. Now that doesn’t sound so appealing. The new economy is more than just the democratization of technology, but let me tell you, there is no way we’re going to build durable economies without it.
The democratization of technology has had profound implications on the business I work in, Tech Network of Boston. Tech Networks is an IT services company that started twenty years ago delivering used computers to inner city college students. When computers became cheap and ubiquitous, we shifted our focus to maintaining computer networks for local area non-profits. Then, guess what happened? The same thing. Email, shared files and applications began to move to the cloud. Software in particular became so easy and cheap to use that almost anyone could download and install them on their phone. So then we started helping people use technology to collaborate.
For three years now, our mantra has been: “We’re Better Together.” And over time, we’re learning how to build even more powerful collaborations and break down silos. Some people think that we earn our living by maintaining servers and building network infrastructure, but that’s becoming less relevant. We are helping non-profits use information technology to serve their employees and their constituents, to scale in size and impact, and to innovate.
But Tech Networks, like so many other social enterprises today, is itself an innovative organization that defies traditional labels. We’re a Certified B Corporation on the road to becoming a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation. That means that we are legally allowed to prioritize mission over money. Thank God. If I had investors they would have fired me a long time ago!
Our mission, like the new economy itself, is complex. In the new economic ecosystem there are no clear boundaries. Yes, we enable positive change in the world by helping non-profit organizations take advantage of IT. But we have many other relationships within the community, including our IT community of practice, our workforce development partnerships, and our initiatives outside the IT field, like Southie Trees which focuses on maintaining and expanding tree coverage in South Boston, and the Climate Action Liaison Coalition, which enables businesses to take action against climate change.
Tech Networks is extremely grateful that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has created a legal status for businesses like ours. But there is so much more that government could do to encourage the growth and development of the new economy. For the last thirty years, the City of Burlington Vermont has explicitly followed an economic development plan that features government, small businesses and non-profit organizations working together to build a durable economy that meets the needs of all residents. It’s my hope that cities and towns across the nation will take notice of the success that Burlington has achieved by following this model.
I’m going to wrap up with a story with a personal story about government, the new economy, and an opossum in a trash can. One of the crowning achievements of the Department of New Urban Mechanics at the City of Boston was the “Citizens Connect” iPhone app. Whereas, prior to the app, City of Boston employees used to drive around the City, looking for potholes and other problems, the Citizens Connect application allows any smartphone user to snap a picture of a broken street light, pothole, or other annoyance and automatically report the location to the City. There is also a Twitter feed, so people can follow along as the problems are reported and fixed. I had just downloaded the app after learning about it at a neighborhood association meeting. I was bored, it was 11:00 on a Friday night in the middle of winter. I clicked on a few pictures of potholes, and then I saw a picture of a red trash can with something in it.
The accompanying text was: “Possum’ in my trash can. Can’t tell if it’s dead. How do I get this removed.” I got on my coat, walked ten minutes to the trash can location, and, sure enough, there was an opossum trapped in a trash can. 15 minutes later, I filed the return tweet: “Possum? Check. Living? Yep. Turned the trash can on its side. Walked home. Good night, sweet possum.”
Talk about “We’re Better Together” When citizens, businesses, and governments work together, you never know what can happen. Sometimes, you might even save an opossum.”

 

An Alliance for a More Sustainable Future

Roxbury Technology

Members of the TNB team paid a visit to Roxbury Technology’s manufacturing plant.

Roxbury Technology, LLC, one of Boston’s largest and most sustainable woman-owned businesses in the technology arena, and TNB have formed a strategic alliance. Together, we will now offer complete IT and printer services, including local help desk, remote monitoring, staff augmentation, onsite support, printer repair, and new and remanufactured computer equipment and supplies, including ink and toner, printers, and computers. 

Clients of both firms will now have the opportunity to recycle empty ink and toner cartridges for remanufacture and resale locally in Boston and the surrounding communities. Our onsite service technicians will soon distribute information packets at client sites containing instructions on how to purchase and recycle consumables and other equipment.

Click here to view the full Boston Techie newsletter.

Building Community Capital Through Technology

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Kirk Bacchus is a student at the community technology center at USES.

Peter Miller, a longtime activist in the community technology movement, pointed out that United South End Settlements (USES) is a solid local example of a thriving community technology center (CTC) during the first “thought leadership talk” at Tech Networks.  He commented, “USES established one of the first CTCs in the cadre that developed in the Boston area, the first settlement house to do so nationally, providing model open access, education and training, and partnership programs.” (Visit Peter Miller’s Website.)

The mission of USES is to build a strong community by improving the education, health, safety, and economic security of low-income individuals and families in Boston’s historic South End/Lower Roxbury and to serve as a national model of successful neighborhood engagement. 

TNB has provided technical support to USES since January 2010, and we are proud of the workforce readiness initiatives that make use of USES’ in-house community technology center:

Computer Training for Employment

This basic computer literacy class addresses fundamental knowledge of the internet, operating systems, hardware, software (especially the Microsoft Office suite), and typing in order to give students the confidence to excel in a career path in a technology specialty of their choice.

Data Entry Specialist Program

Offered in partnership with Fenway CDC, Career Collaborative, and Roxbury Community College, this program trains students in technical data entry skills. Students focus on keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheets, and databases. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in work-study and internships with partner organizations.

On-Line Learning Readiness

Made possible by a grant to the City of Boston and the Timothy Smith Network from the Department of Commerce, this intensive program is focused on teaching the skills needed to be truly competitive in today’s job market, including how to navigate the Internet and use both email and Microsoft Office. Students create effective resumes and cover letters, develop professional networking profiles, and acquire the skills needed to get and keep a job in today’s economy.

As Peter Miller explained, the overall practice of community technology involves a combination of the efforts of individuals, community technology centers, and national organizations with federal policy initiatives around broadband, information access, education, and economic development.  He helped us see how congruent this work is with USES’s overall mission, and with our own passions for workforce development and technology that supports social missions.

USES Community Technology Center 2

Denise Nwagu is a student at the community technology center at USES.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to view the full Boston Techie newsletter.