Mission Optimization: Growing Techies & Community

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, Inc.
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Mission Statement: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, healthy and caring citizens.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Donations from Microsoft have helped our organization build a stable infrastructure and advance our technology integration throughout our Clubs. Seven years ago, our infrastructure needed serious intervention. We designated a small portion of the operating budget for tech expenditures. Within the first year we were able to take advantage of Microsoft donations available from Boys & Girls Clubs of America (now distributed through TechSoup). With the significant savings we began investing in our hardware and infrastructure. We followed this plan for the next six years. Since 2002, we have gone from three servers (with less memory and processing power than some of our granted workstations), 25 workstations, MS Small Business server and a few MS Office applications over three locations to eleven servers, over 250 workstations, MS Exchange 2007, MS Windows 2008 server, MS Office 2007, MS Visio plus other Microsoft productivity software over seven locations. The improved infrastructure and integration has enabled us to take advantage of other web-based tools to improve our effectiveness and efficiency. We now use IP phone systems, SharePoint for collaboration, improved communications and grant management and KidTrax for member and outcomes management. Tools from Microsoft are instrumental as we round the bend on a significant shift to improve our services and accountability in terms of outcomes. We are transitioning everything we do from activities to administration, grant writing to data collection to become outcomes based. Every activity by every person in the organization relates to an outcome and delivery of our mission: To inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, healthy and caring citizens. In the past few years, as our technology has grown and improved, our customer base has exploded. We are now serving more than 8,500 members annually; more kids and families than we ever have in over 45 years! We are not just serving them; we are making a deeper impact on their lives. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands has been at the forefront of youth development. Technology has been a strategic tool in developing that position. From digital art creations to public service announcements to homework to robotics to college applications to resumes, our members have taken advantage of our Microsoft tools. We saw a need to help them do more with the tools available so we convened a technology advisory committee to help guide our technology plan development. As a part of that plan, we created a Technology Outcomes Model. The model identifies short and long term outcomes and the tools and activities needed to achieve them. We have implemented and piloted programs to provide members opportunities, like MIRACLES Technology Academy to reach the outcomes. Our programs range from basic skills using Microsoft Office titles, like using Excel to track vegetable growth and Publisher to create Thank You cards to more advanced skills like using PowerPoint to write books for kindergartners and downloading video and photos to MovieMaker to create public service announcements. And on an even more advanced level, we have members designing and programming robots using Windows based computer programs to learning actual programming using Visual Studio .net. Our members have won expense paid trips and collected trophy hardware for their hard work and dedication. For many of them, it was their first trip out of their hometown; first time winning anything; first time getting a prize for work done well. And for the most impacted, exposure to technology from in our Clubs helped set a course for them to build a life they had never imagined before that moment. The members most impacted have continued to seek new technology opportunities, go to college, get a job in a technology career field, become a college engineering or computer science major or be a mentor to younger members in our Clubs. Most of all, access to technology has given our members opportunities to see new things, try them, excel, and serve others. Our model and the tools are working and the youth are benefiting. We depend on technology daily. Administratively, each staff person, seasonal and permanent, has an Exchange email account and can access that account, both at work and remotely. Each staff person has access to a network drive for document management. All of our clubs are interconnected and have access to each other’s shared drives to facilitate document sharing and improve collaboration. We have terminal servers for access by donors and supporters. For example, the terminal server accounts provide a means for supporters to access event management software for fundraising. Our need for better communication and collaboration has increased with growth. To that end, we deployed a SharePoint solution in 2007. It was slow going at first, but staff realized its merits and began to use it. Today each staff has some level of access to SharePoint. Each location has its own site. We also use it to manage documents for projects and grant reporting. Our marketing and PR director has developed a site for publication and image submission. SharePoint has become our central repository for all data, documents and images that need to be shared for collaboration and reporting. The community has benefited from our Microsoft support as well. This past year we became a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) to take advantage of the donated hardware that we receive. Since the inception of this program, our contact with community members that didn’t have contact with our programs before now has grown tremendously. We have distributed over 100 computers and have a waiting list of about 75 with more calls everyday. We are in Omaha, Nebraska and are getting calls, emails and application requests from states as far away as Virginia and Arizona. For these applicants, we refer them to MARs in their home state and/or city. Without the reduced prices of the licenses, there is no way we could serve this many citizens. There have been teary-eyed grandmothers raising their grandkids, thanking us for the computers because they would not have been able to afford them otherwise and they just need something for papers and homework when they can’t get to a library or one of our Clubs. I remember one recipient with a disability who hugged everyone in the circle that helped to carry the computer or fix it. She was in her fifties and someone else sponsored her payment ($20). She was so excited because it was her first computer. This is played out over and over again. The program really does impact lives.

With help from Microsoft we make a difference in the lives of youth, the elderly, those with disabilities, adults, staff, volunteers, donors, everybody who touches our organization in some way. This is the impact that continues for generations and spreads throughout the world.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery