Technology Labs, and "Club Tech"

Organization Name
Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County
Mission Statement

To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County (BGCWC) recognizes our community responsibility to provide youth with access to current technologies. Many Whatcom County families don’t have a computer at home. Technology skills are crucial for success in school and the workplace. BGCWC strives to “level the virtual playing field” for economically-disadvantaged youth by providing a learning environment to grasp basic computer concepts and safely navigate the internet. Our club needed up-to-date resources to provide kids and teens with a lifetime of computer and software competency. We received a generous technology and software grant to upgrade our computer labs, implement a tech curriculum and offer resources that provide vital communication and social skills for the 21st century.

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)
Other: All BGCWC computers are equipped with Windows 7

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Up-to-date computers allowed BGCWC to respond to the needs of the next generation. We have 5 Clubs in Whatcom County Clubs each with a designated tech lab, equipped with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2007. (Our larger clubs in Bellingham and Ferndale also have a separate lab exclusively for teens) We also employ a full time Technology Director who is proficient in Microsoft software and works directly with youth to troubleshoot and guide their tech experiences. The upgraded computer labs helped BGCWC successfully implement “Club Tech” – a program that appropriately nurtures technology literacy while enhancing existing youth development programs. In addition, every kid and teen using a Clubhouse computer must complete NetSmartz – a safety course that defines appropriate internet conduct.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: The computer software we use at the Clubs makes a real difference in the future success of our members. Elementary school kids use Microsoft Word to practice typing, grammar, and reading. Teens use Powerpoint presentations to fulfill their Culminating Project requirements, and write resumes & cover letters using templates in Word. BGCWC staff provides continued support for members to learn the skills needed to compete in the 21st century. Daily access to computers definitely an appealing element of the Club, and keeps kids returning.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: Because computers are appealing to kids and teens, having open tech labs has been a way to get youth in the door. Club Membership $30 per year—and allows full access to computer labs. The tech curriculum provides schoolwork assistance, career preparation, and other personal enrichment activities; BGCWC recognizes the attractiveness of state-of-the-art computers for cultural exploration and fun. Many kids and teens that initially come to the Club for the computer labs are likely to participate in the other programs and activities we offer. Before receiving the grant to upgrade our computer labs only 75 kids county wide used a Club computer daily. Since the upgrade and implementation of Club Tech, we average 125 kids per day who use the computer labs for homework or enrichment activities.

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Great Futures Start Here - Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County