Commodore 64, No More!

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Organization's Mission Statement

The Mission of IKRON is to assist youth and adults with mental illness and/or substance abuse issues to build self confidence, attain greater self sufficiency, lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives, and to obtain and maintain satisfying employment.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Commodore 64, No More!

Yes! You know The Commodores, the American funk/soul band of the 1970s and 1980s, and all their good music, like “Brick House”, “Lady, You Bring Me Up”, and “Easy”. Well…IKRON, our agency, is actually located in a Brick House where we Bring people up when they’re down and help them in achieving their goal of getting off disability income and obtaining employment. We hope our proposal, as you read below, will make it Easy –like a Sunday morning actually, to cast a vote for IKRON in the 2009 Microsoft Show Your Impact contest.


IKRON (Integration of Knowledge and Resources for Occupational Needs) was founded in 1969 as the University of Cincinnati Rehabilitation Center. In 1983, the University Rehabilitation Center went private, and with help from community members, two professors purchased the building housing the vocational program, changing its name to IKRON. The agency is nationally certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and it is one of the oldest agencies in the Cincinnati area to provide mental health, substance abuse, and employment services to individuals with disabilities.


Now, lay back, put your headphones on, crank up some Commodores music, and let’s talk about the OTHER Commodores… The Commodore 64s or C64s…These Commodores came out in the 1980s and they were one of the best computers on the market. It was during that time that IKRON began offering computer training with these state of the art machines.


The purpose of our first computer lab was to assist individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities with their adjustment to the community, by teaching basic computer literacy skills and increasing job readiness. Our original computer lab included six C64 computers, decision making interacting software, and computer games, all available for those participating in our program.


Although we put a strong emphasis on respecting the traditions and the values instilled by our founders, as well as maintaining a stable and secure environment for those in need, until not too long ago, our “traditional” computers would have made themselves more conspicuous in a museum collection rather than in a computer lab meant to assist individuals with obtaining and maintaining employment.


Despite this, due to limited funding, we couldn't upgrade our systems until the early 2000s. In 2004, by obtaining the Microsoft products through TechSoup, we were able to take a great step forward, and leave several of the Commodores behind (just as Lionel Richie left his Commodores behind).


With the discounted software, IKRON was able to focus on enhancing clients’ abilities to obtain jobs by teaching them basic keyboarding skills, Computer/Windows Operation, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft Outlook. Clients participating in our services were also able to learn about resume applications - creating resumes, tracking contacts, writing cover letters, and searching for jobs. In addition, more advanced marketable skills were taught to those interested in data entry or medical billing jobs.


Using the Microsoft software obtained through TechSoup, IKRON was better prepared to meet the needs for the growing number of clients requesting services. For example before obtaining the software, we were receiving only limited referrals per year. Our total referrals in 2000 for example, were 373. In 2004 referrals numbered 637 representing an increase of almost 80%. Our most recent fiscal year, 2008, shows referrals numbering over 800. The word has definitely spread that IKRON’s Computer Training program prepares people for work.


With the support from TechSoup in providing IKRON with discounted Microsoft software, the quality of our computer training services was enhanced greatly. The software allowed IKRON to develop a more comprehensive computer training program - COPE (Computer and Office Programming Essentials) - that better prepared individuals to live more self sufficient and fulfilling lives and thus optimizing our mission delivery. IKRON also became a Microsoft certified training site giving its clients more opportunities to obtain competitive jobs. The national average for individuals with severe mental illness that are working is approximately 13%. Our data from our MIS system (using Microsoft Access as our data base software) shows that individuals completing at least 100 hours of our training program have a 70% likelihood of obtaining competitive employment. With the help of your software and our training staff, we are placing people with disabilities into jobs at rates 57% greater than the national average!


Microsoft technologies have been innovative in enhancing our relationship with the community. Due to the quality training that we have been able to provide, some employers have contacted our placement staff to inquire about graduates from our training program, who could be possible candidates for open positions with their company, even before advertising their positions to the public. In addition, one of our referral sources, The Rehabilitation Services Commission, has more than doubled referrals to our computer training program. In addition, our contract with our local Community Mental Health Board notes that we have more then tripled the number of individuals we have placed into employment locally and nationally. And all these… with the help of the Microsoft software received through Tech Soup!


So … our Commodore song (story) is coming to an end. Through our story, we hope you’ve seen how much Microsoft technology has impacted our agency, the clients we serve, and our local community. And yes, we still have some of those Commodore 64s in working condition. Due to changes in technology and greater number of individuals seeking services, we are in need of updated software and computers. We hope we don’t have to pull out a few of those C64s for training. So please... Commodore 64, No More! Vote for IKRON to be the recipient of this year’s Microsoft Show Your Impact award!

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
our brick house.gif