TECS - Teaching Everyone Computer Skills

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Fort Lawn Community Center
City & State:
Fort Lawn, 
South Carolina
Organization's Mission Statement

To provide educational, cultural, health, wellness, and human services to the residents of Fort Lawn and the surrounding communities.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Fort Lawn Community Center, Inc. (FLCC) is a non-profit organization located in Chester County South Carolina and was incorporated in 1998. The mission of the Center is to provide educational, cultural, health, wellness, and human services to the residents of Fort Lawn and the surrounding communities. While our first efforts were devoted to saving and renovating the old Fort Lawn School Building, our vision has always been focused on improving people’s lives. FLCC involves agencies, community faith-based organizations, businesses, and neighborhoods of citizens interested in our mission. In the last six years we successfully rebuilt the school and developed programs for the community.This community has been greatly affected by textile industry closings. For more than 100 years, this area has thrived through employment with Springs Industries. Generation after generation has worked in this field of industry. In 2007, Springs Industry sold to an international company. This resulted in six textile plants closing within a 10 mile radius of our location. This action put 7000 employees out of work. As reported by the Bureau of Statistics, SC unemployment rate in April 2009 was 11.5%. Chester County unemployment rate was 21.8%. This is more than twice the national average. Now, there are no textile jobs. After years of full time employment in the textile industry, many are now in need of new job skills. Computers are a new area for many of these dislocated workers and could be the most important skill needed to start a new career. FLCC wanted to be an invaluable resource to these families. As unemployment rose, we developed a program called TECS (Teaching Everyone Computer Skills). Because these employees had come from a manufacturing background, they were in need of skills that would prepare them for a job in a service oriented career. After purchasing MS Office 2003 and then MS Office 2007, we were able to prepare our students for any job opportunity that may come their way. To ensure that these students would be able to work in any business environment, we choose to incorporate MS Windows XP and Vista into our training. We also taught MS Office 2002, 2003 and 2007. Because these families are now living on a much lower income level, we developed a class to teach them to use MS Excel, thus allowing them to create home budgets and to use the amortization template before making any financial decisions. These are skills that would later translate into good business decisions in the office environment. Students utilized MS Word to prepare their cover letters and resumes. In the last year, we have had nineteen students find jobs after completing the TECS classes.To inform the community of these new classes, we choose MS Front Page to develop our website. This has greatly expanded our visibility in the surrounding areas and given us an opportunity to help many more individuals gain new work skills. Since 2002, we have served 1461 students in our computer literacy lab. We are now serving students from 4 counties and more than 20 communities. Some drive as far as 50 miles one way to take advantage of the programs we offer. As our student numbers grew, we knew we needed more funding. We developed a PowerPoint presentation using MS Office to encourage area foundations and businesses to sponsor this program. By showing these groups the needs and successes of our students, we hope to gain financial assistance from the community. As a result of our success in this program, we are now being contacted by local businesses to recommend our students for available positions in their organizations. They know we are training students using the best office tools on the market, MS Office. They know this person will be beneficial to their company because they already have the skills needed to step into a position using computers with minimum on job training. Without the MS software provided to us by Microsoft and TechSoup, we would be unable to ensure qualified people to fill these positions. But most of all, without this support, we would be unable to facilitate the confidence that these dislocated workers need before taking on a new career opportunity.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact