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Transforming Communities Through Service

Transforming Communities Through Service

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Published by: ICICP on Jul 28, 2011
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Audrey McDonough, Program
Director, AmeriCorps
audrey@pbcliteracy.org
(561) 265-3579

| 7

Success Stories

The Literacy AmeriCorps Palm Beach County is successfully meeting education needs in its community. An important
contributing factor in its success is strong partnerships with influential foundations that have a vested interest in
ensuring that the program is the best. That support helps open up doors for continued support and the sustainability of
the program. The program also has strong volunteer recruitment and retention rates because of success in using social
networking sites and the National Portal to recruit Members. Almost all of the AmeriCorps Members join the program
from outside Florida and with these tools the program has a 100% recruitment and retention rate.

8 | Transforming Communities through Service

MINNESOTA

Community Technology Empowerment Project

Program Description

The Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorps
program places 30 Members in non-profits, libraries and other community
agencies across the Twin Cities to help adults and youth acquire the
technology literacy skills necessary to secure employment and to improve
academically. Partner agencies are located in Empowerment Zone (low-
income) neighborhoods and in neighborhoods with a high concentration of
recent immigrant and minority residents.

CTEP AmeriCorps Members strengthen communities through providing a
direct service teaching technology literacy; building agency capacity
through program development and mobilizing volunteers within the
community; and engaging in member-led group civic engagement projects
related to bridging the digital divide.

CTEP AmeriCorps has two specific Member position types focusing on
economic opportunity and education. Economic Opportunity Members
focus on teaching technology literacy skills to adults as they relate to
obtaining employment and improving civic and social opportunities. These
Members serve in a one-on-one capacity or in a classroom-type setting in
formal train-to-work programs. They teach specific software skills, such as
Microsoft Office, and teach workforce readiness classes geared toward
English language learners using interactive software. In public housing
facilities, Members help adult and senior residents file tax forms,
participate in GED and other degree programs, and fill out online health
care, employment and housing applications.

The other half of CTEP Members focus on education with students in
grades 6-12 in schools and after-school programs. Education Members help
students achieve state and national academic standards by enhancing their learning with technology literacy instruction.
Education Members assist youth with homework requiring technology, online research, and introduce skill-building
programs in subjects such as math, reading and typing. Education Members recruit volunteers to provide one-on-one
mentoring relationships with youth and help develop technological competency by encouraging youth media
programming.

Program Innovations

UDelivering meaningful service
CTEP is a program of Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, a nonprofit that empowers communities to connect with the
emerging digital culture. Low-income and recent immigrant families as well as residents with disabilities need accessible,
affordable technology programs to ensure access to critical health, education, employment and social service information.
To meet this need, all CTEP Members help partner agencies increase their internal capacity, including program design
and assessment, staff and volunteer training, volunteer recruiting and outreach efforts. CTEP Members begin their service
year conducting a technology assessment at their site, which is used for fundraising, outreach and/or program evaluation.
CTEP is also unique in Minnesota in that it requires all Members to participate in an extended, 75-hour group civic
engagement project, in addition to five one-time civic engagement activities. Each CTEP member participates in a
member-driven small group project that focuses on making a contribution to a community need related to digital
inclusion. Projects have included creating an electronic waste public service announcement that has played on

Focus: Education, Economic
Opportunity
Issue Area: Technology Literacy

UInnovative Elements

• Delivering meaningful service
• Exceptional partnerships
• Potential for replication

UContact Information

ServeMinnesota

www.serveminnesota.org
Audrey Suker, Executive Director
audrey@serveminnesota.org
(612) 333-7740

Community Technology Empowerment
Project

www.technologypower.org
Joel Krogstad or Libby Caulum,
Program Directors
info@technologypower.org
(651) 556-1384

| 9

community television stations in the Twin Cities and the refurbishment and distribution of computers to low-income
families.

UExceptional partnerships
CTEP reflects a collaborative, authentic partnership between community residents, local agencies, AmeriCorps Members
and CTEP staff. CTEP’s relationships with partner agencies, donors and city government provide a platform for future
cross-sector (private-public) collaboration. Over the past four years, AmeriCorps Members assisted the City of
Minneapolis to help area residents learn about the City's plans for a high-speed broadband Internet network that will
cover 100% of the city – Wireless Minneapolis. As a result of these efforts, the
city agreed to establish a new Digital Inclusion Fund with funds from US
Internet to help agencies support volunteerism and technology literacy efforts.
The Fund was established with about $500,000 contributed by US Internet in
2007 and 2008 alone. The long-term effect of this private-public partnership will
be that fewer state or federal funds will be needed to support digital inclusion
efforts.

Additionally, in early 2010, a Digital Technology Taskforce was formed to
develop a technology literacy certificate. This certificate will give more
credibility to community members who obtain a certain level of computer
literacy after successfully completing classes at one of the participating computer technology centers in the Twin Cities,
many of which are CTEP partner sites. Ultimately, the Taskforce hopes to connect with corporations and companies in
the area to educate them about what the certificate represents so that community members can get better-paying, stable
jobs. CTEP AmeriCorps Members, partners and staff have been directly involved with the beginning stages of this
process, creating a model for the certificate program and serving on the taskforce.

UPotential for replication
Employees of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) working on the National Broadband Plan have singled
out CTEP as a national model for community partnership in teaching technology literacy to low-income communities.
CTEP AmeriCorps Member Alex Kurt was invited to provide testimony before Members of Congress at the Digital
Inclusion Summit in Washington, DC, on March 9, 2010, about his experience teaching basic technology skill classes at
the Rondo Community Outreach Branch of the Saint Paul Public Library. The FCC is currently seeking input from CTEP
program staff on how such a model could be replicated nationally as part of a National Digital Literacy Corps. CTEP has
also been approached by organizations in San Francisco, Denver and Austin, TX, with requests to promote the
partnership model for community technology instruction and capacity building. These cities have expressed an interest
in supporting technology education to build opportunity in low-income communities. CTEP is currently exploring a
model to replicate the program through an AmeriCorps National Direct grant for the 2014-17 cycle, as a way to expand
programming to these areas.

Success Stories

One hundred percent of CTEP partner agencies in the last four years reported an increase in their capacity to serve
underserved residents as a result of the CTEP AmeriCorps Members' service. Since CTEP’s inception, CTEP Members
have created 134 new or expanded programs at partner agencies. These programming accomplishments led to the
achievement of teaching technology literacy to over 20,000 community members since 2004. CTEP Members also
mobilized 1,117 volunteers who have given over 37,000 hours of service to the community. This amount is equivalent to an
entire year of 25 full-time AmeriCorps Members, substantially adding to the impact of the program.

CTEP’s success also comes from its ability to respond to the needs of the communities it serves. In 2007, CTEP hired
evaluation consultants and collaborated with ServeMinnesota to identify intermediate and end outcomes of the
technology literacy instruction. This helped CTEP determine that its focus for the 2010-13 grant will be on workforce
readiness and academic improvement, because these were the leading community technology needs from the data over
the last two years. CTEP is a unique and valuable resource in Minnesota that provides a vital link in addressing the
technology access and literacy needs that exist in the community.

10 | Transforming Communities through Service

MINNESOTA

Minnesota Reading Corps

Program Description

Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC) Members serve to increase the literacy
skills of at-risk children age 3 to grade 3 by providing qualified, well-
trained AmeriCorps Members and community volunteers to tutor children
identified below target level who need extra help to improve their literacy
skills. Members serve in Head Start agencies, community-based preschools
and elementary schools.

In pre-school settings, MRC Members work to create literacy-rich
environments and tailor literacy interventions for individual children,
children in small groups and whole classrooms. In Kindergarten through
third grade settings, MRC Members serve as one-on-one tutors and
provide literacy interventions to students who are just below proficiency in
reading. Some Members also recruit and train volunteers to support
literacy efforts within the school they are serving.

Program Innovations

UDelivering meaningful service
In 2003, with Minnesota test scores indicating that nearly 25% of all third
graders were reading below state proficiency targets, the need was clear:
The state’s youngest students required additional support if they were to
become successful readers by the end of third grade - the age at which
expert literacy educators say children need to “learn to read” in order for
them to “read to learn.” ServeMinnesota recognized the need to step
forward to help Minnesota address this critical and systemic challenge. In collaboration with multiple partners,
ServeMinnesota formulated a new early literacy program initiative. The driving vision was that expandable AmeriCorps
resources could be married with the data-driven science of how children learn to read to uniquely catalyze broad change
at the system level and move the state forward in tackling large-scale childhood literacy challenges.

UExceptional partnerships
In 2003, the Minnesota Literacy Council (MLC) stepped forward as the key member of a partnership to launch and
develop the Early Literacy Corps, which later became the Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC). MLC quickly built
relationships with four local Head Start agencies, the Minnesota Head Start Association, and key literacy consultants to
successfully develop the program. The work of the MRC is also aligned with a wide range of community stakeholders.
The program originated out of a successful alliance of leading literacy organizations including Head Start, the St. Croix
River Education District, Education Evolving and the program’s fiscal host, the Minnesota Literacy Council, as well as
early childhood education experts from the University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis Public Schools and the University
of Oregon. In 2009, the Greater Twin Cities United Way made a three-year $2.1 million commitment to take the MRC to
scale in St. Paul and Bloomington.

Additionally, ServeMinnesota and MRC secured the support of key legislators, state department of education employees,
and professionals with marketing, public relations, finance and business experience - sufficient to back and nurture the
successful start-up of an ambitious education-focused program with plans for statewide implementation. The
combination of talent and positional influence helped to create a robust public-private partnership that has supported
the steady growth of the MRC during the past six years.

Focus: Education
Issue Area: Tutoring

UInnovative Elements

• Delivering meaningful service
• Exceptional partnerships
• Outstanding resource
generation

UContact Information

ServeMinnesota

www.serveminnesota.org
Audrey Suker, Executive Director
audrey@serveminnesota.org
(612) 333-7740

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