Arc Tech Transformation Maximizes Impact

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
The Arc of Fond du Lac, Inc.
City & State:
Fond du Lac, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Arc of Fond du Lac, Inc. is an association in East Central Wisconsin that empowers people with developmental disabilities to become independent and integrated into the community through advocacy, education, training, and support.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Five years ago The Arc used old, donated computers and a wide variety of incompatible software programs such as Share Ware, Word Perfect and Lotus 123. Our computers were not networked, and not all computers used the same size or type of disk for saving information. Each computer had a different refurbished printer. We had no reliable means to backup data on a regular basis. Sharing reports and internal communication was truly a challenge, and sharing computer experience with our developmentally disabled clients or the public was out of the question. When our IT discovered TechSoup and the discount Microsoft purchasing programs things changed in a big way for The Arc. We’re just beginning to realize the huge long term impact technology brings to the people we serve and the community as a whole. Microsoft has truly inspired The Arc to give back to the community, expand our client base, and develop integrated learning programs for everyone from people with developmental disabilities to those in pursuit of a college education. The Arc provides a wide variety of services for individuals with developmental disabilities from intensive in-home therapy and housing to adult day services and leisure time activities. We have group homes for 2 to 5 individuals, support people living in apartments, and serve people still living at home with their parents. We have always had a strict technology policy in regard to software usage and licenses. The Arc purchased the Microsoft Server 2003 and was able to backup and share a wide variety of files, data, logos, newsletters and related information. Our web page was dramatically improved too. When we purchased 50 licenses for Office 2003 and Windows XP, we not only stabilized office systems but established a computer learning program for our clients. Not only can we teach computer skills to our more severely disabled adults during the day, but our properly licensed internet lab has allowed us to provide 3 one hour classes every other Wednesday evening. This popular evening computer class has a waiting list. As part of our strategic plan we hope to expand the computer class so our clients may learn with family members, college students or simply interested individuals from our community. Having so many software licenses allows us to legally expand the class while reserving other computers for administration. Examples of some computer class projects follow. We individualized or personalized cards, invitations, placemats, cookbooks and bookmarks. We created emergency ID cards, luggage tags, address books and calendars. Holidays were enhanced when we made gifts including clocks, cups, book bags, t-shirts, puzzles, and seasonal window clings. We also made decorations for our parties and awards banquet. Class participants brought in pictures, scanned them and added music, saved them on a DVD, and were able to show them to family and friends at the school auditorium with surround sound. The e-buddies program links our developmentally disabled adults with friends all over the United States. Fond du Lac has a technical college (Moraine Park) and a private academic university, Marian University. Each has programs in technology and the potential for students to intern and do a project for credit. With up to date hardware and software, students can have a real learning experience. So far we have had 5 interns, and each placement has been a success for them, and for us. We had not anticipated this interaction when we purchased our multi user products. As a spin off from our computer usage clients recycle printer cartridges and earn a wage. If we are awarded the impact funds and software, we will use the cash to upgrade hardware, and the software to continue to inspire our staff to reach out to groups and individuals in our community.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
Project Image
Supporting Work Files