W.E.B. DuBois Community Technology Network (Telehub)

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center
City & State:
Kansas City, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Raise the Performance Level of Underserved Communities Through Educational Services and Applied State of the Art Technology

Submission Information

Impact Essay

For over 35 years, the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center has been raising the performance level of children in Kansas City, Missouri. We are a community institution founded by and sustained by community volunteers. We operate free tutorial programs in Mathematics, Communication Arts, Science and Computer Technology for students in grades two through twelve. We assist students from various public school districts, charter and private schools in the urban core of Kansas City. Total program enrollment exceeds 500 per year.

Since 1973, the foundation of the center has been our volunteers from a variety of professional careers, including engineers, accountants, attorneys, human resource and communications professionals who provide instruction, tutorial assistance and mentoring to children in the urban core. Volunteers also perform a wide range of functions, including enrollment, orientation, attendance, program administration and fundraising.

The story of our Transformation to Maximize Impact also begins with our volunteers. Among those attracted by the center’s mission have been expert and visionary volunteers from the field of Information technology. They understood the potential and advantages of applying technology to the center’s existing tutorial programs. They also clearly defined the need to address the capacity of the center to provide direct assistance, as well as impact the digital divide and lack of access to technology tools within the community. With the talents and experience of these volunteers, we established a Telecommunication Hub Initiative (Telehub) in 1999 to provide scarce educational and technology resources to the community. We established partnerships with area churches and community centers to provide community access to computer technology and the Internet through satellite labs. We trained neighborhood youth in wiring and utilized them to install Ethernet wiring throughout the satellite facilities. By 2003, the network had grown to 12 area satellite sites. The network serves as the common link to support after-school and tutorial programs for area students, including a free 8-week Summer Academic Camp that serves over 1,200 children. The computer technology program has provided youth and adult technology training, with classes and programs including a Cisco Certified Networking Academy, Introduction to PCs, Microsoft Office and Publisher, Comic Creations, Internet and Email, and PC Maintenance and Repair.

Microsoft technology has played a vital role in the development of our community technology initiative and infrastructure. We utilize a model that developed server and routing infrastructure at our center that could be maintained by our volunteers and provide access, applications and educational resources to the satellite partners through the computer labs. We use a mix of wireless and vpn connections to the network infrastructure. As a server-centric network, we maximize access capacity and minimize maintenance by utilizing Microsoft Terminal Services to provide applications to domain accounts and users throughout the network. Starting with Microsoft Server 2000, we have undergone conversions to Microsoft Server 2003 on mission critical Domain servers, Terminal servers and File servers, as well as Web, Print, SANS and Mail servers. We provide access to Microsoft Office applications for students to complete homework assignments, as many students do not have home access to computers. We also have utilized Microsoft Office applications to develop program data bases accessed by administrative volunteers for enrollment and attendance. We offer classes to youth, adults and senior citizens on utilizing Microsoft Office and Outlook as well as Internet Explorer.

We have utilized our relationship with TechSoup to purchase vital Microsoft Terminal Services licensing (CALs) to expand our network capacity and to begin a conversion of servers to Server 2008. Most recently, we have purchased Microsoft SQL Server to convert our existing Access program database applications. This will allow us to develop a more full-featured database that can also provide for more concurrent use by our administrative volunteers.

Our use of technology has in fact transformed our mission perspective on providing needed services to the youth of the community and our potential to engage and collaborate with partners within the community. Our volunteers continue to be the foundation of our capacities to develop and sustain our mission to raise performance. Microsoft software has been and continues to be vital to our capacity to provide access to scarce technology and educational resources and to positively impact our community.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact