Cornerstone Technology Upgrade

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Cornerstone Youth Center operated by the Southeast Youth Council, Inc.
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

With the inspiration and guidance of caring mentors, we will provide opportunities for the healthy growth and development of all youth.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Cornerstone Youth Center operated by the Southeast Youth Council, Inc. has seen lives changed and impacted greatly by donated Microsoft software through Our organization serves a rural population in Allen County, Indiana. Beside the public library that has limited access, our youth and their families find it difficult to have access to technology. In the fall of 2006 we were challenged with the task of upgrading our technology. As a four year old organization, we were operating with donated computers which had mismatched software and hardware making it complicated to keep current and working. Something needed to change.


The task of a technology upgrade was given to our Tech Team which was comprised of three adults and five youth all of which volunteered their time. This team began the evaluation process of our current technology and the interviewing of staff to see what changes or updates needed to be made. It became clear that an entire new system with networking needed to be in place to have a Transformation that would Maximize our Impact. A technology plan was then created which called for 15 new computers, a new laptop, a new server, switches, Microsoft Operating Software for the server and computers, Microsoft Office Suite, a phone system, a copy machine, several printers and many other pieces.


We then found a funding partner in the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne who offered a technology grant for organization in greater Allen County. We applied for the grant using quotes of hardware and software from in November 2006. The grant committee representatives from the Community Foundation then paid a visit to our organization to discuss the grant. They were blown away by the fact that we had volunteers who were so knowledgeable of technology and they were impressed that we were using as a way to save costs and maximize the impact of their grant. The grant would be approved totaling $30,115 in early 2007. We then moved forward without technology plan which resulted in the following accomplishment.


Tech Team - We are very fortunate to have dedicated volunteers that mentor youth and helped guide them and our organization through the technology planning and implementation process. Youth were able to see a project from the early planning stages through implementation. The youth helped set-up computers, load software, install network wiring and plugs, and troubleshoot problems. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we were able to maximize our impact by mentoring youth with current technology and guiding them through a technology planning and implementation process.


Education Center - The technology grant allowed us to purchase the items mentioned above. We were able to create an Education Center within our building that offers homework help and tutoring 5 days a week after school until 6pm and outside that time by request. We have a dedicated staff person to work with youth on homework and other volunteers also offer time. Within the Education Center we have 7 computers that are available for educational purposes. They are equipped with Microsoft XP operating systems and Microsoft Office. These pc’s help youth do homework assignments, work on online quizzes and homework and are available at a time that is convenient for most youth to work on projects. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we are maximizing our impact by having expanded educational opportunities in our community.

Community Impact - We offer our computers to parents filing FAFSA forms, taxes, and school related projects. We most recently partnered with the 21st Century Scholars program which is a free scholarship program for youth in grades 6-8 to sign up for a free college tuition scholarship for an Indiana school. We signed 11 families up for the scholarship through paper and online access to the application. Furthermore, our BRIDGE group comprised of 18-25 year old past graduates of the Center is currently creating a workshop they can offer to people in the community on how to use technology. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we are maximizing our impact by allowing access to computers for family and community related projects.

Network Infrastructure - Through the grant we were also able to purchase a new server and networking equipment to create a network within our facility. This network runs on Microsoft Windows Server and we also use Exchange Server to have email and shared Outlook calendars for staff efficiency. The Tech team has used Visual Studio 05 to further their understanding of programming language within the group. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we are maximizing our impact by creating a network infrastructure that is stable and reliable.

Staff Efficiency - One area that has improved greatly through our use of donated Microsoft software is the efficiency of our staff. Using donated computers, we were on different versions of Microsoft Office and Outlook. This made it complicated at times to get work done in an efficient manner. The antiquated operating software also made it hard for certain pieces of financial and donor software to run properly. By having a reliable network, we were also able to purchase a VOIP phone system with voicemail and a digital copier/printer/scanner that all can access. We also use Microsoft’s add-on features to create pdf’s so emailing documents and communications are seen the same by all. We were able to use new computers, software and other technology as a way to improve how we get work done and how we serve clients. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we are maximizing our impact by improving communication and productivity within our staff.

Marketing and Communications - Our organization now creates three quarterly newsletters for our community. They are mailed to the members of the Center (200+), our service area (2,600+)and donors (300+). Our communications are created using Microsoft Publisher which makes it easy for all staff to participate in building the document. Prior to the technology upgrade, we were only able to produce this newsletter on an annual or bi-annual basis. Through Microsoft’s commitment to provide donated software, we are maximizing our impact by increasing our marketing and communications materials to further drive our mission.

Our mission as an organization has been maximized greatly by having Microsoft products available to us through Through all of the items mentioned above, we have seen a great improvement in the number of clients we are able to serve. The Education Center alone saw more than 344 visits for computer use alone in the 2007-2008 school year. By allowing organizations like ours to receive donated items, Microsoft is helping communities bridge the technology gap and helping people become more self-sufficient.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact