EWEEKs Excellence Awards program not only acknowledges technology advances but also supports organizations that leverage technology to perform community outreach.
Vendors pay a fee of $150 each to enter any number of eligible products in the Excellence Awards program. After program expenses, eWEEK donates funds to nonprofit organizations that use technology to support youth and underserved communities. Since the Excellence Awards programs inception in 2000, eWEEK has donated almost $100,000 to nonprofit organizations.
Last year, eWEEK donated funds to Youth Tech Entrepreneurs, iMentor and Plugged In. A donation was also made to the Make A Wish Foundation.
Future Tech Leaders
Future Tech Leaders
YTE, based in Boston, helps develop student leaders who use their academic, IT and business skills to build stronger communities.
Working with schools through a project-based approach, YTE helps students develop professional, technical and leadership skills. YTEs course work, service projects, programs and competitions help students identify and address local needs through technology. YTE-trained students also support their respective schools technology efforts through help desk implementation, networking, faculty and staff training, Web site development, and mentoring of younger students.
The donation that eWEEK made last year to YTE helped fund the organizations Venture Project/Technology Service Project Contest. YTE hosted Massachusetts students who presented projects that used technology to solve a problem in their schools or communities.
In May 2003, with the support of eWEEK, YTE awarded scholarships to the following winning student teams and their projects: Tantasqua High School, which refurbished and donated 35 computers to a local shelter; Waltham High School, which developed an interactive Web site to which teachers could post assignments; and Malden High School, which developed an interactive Web site to educate students about AIDS/HIV and implemented a team project to teach computer skills to elderly citizens.
“Through eWEEKs gracious investment in YTE and our youth, students across Massachusetts have had the chance to create innovative projects that use technology to solve problems for their schools or communities,” said Nish Acharya, CEO of YTE. “eWEEKs support is helping create the next generation of technology leaders.”
The mission of imentor, based in New York, is to improve the lives of young people from underserved communities through innovative, technology-based approaches to youth mentoring and education.
iMentor works with schools, after-school programs, community technology centers and other development agencies that serve young people from low-income neighborhoods.
iMentor matches young people with volunteer mentors based on shared interests. The organization designs projects that mentors (who are screened by iMentor) and young people collaborate on via e-mail. If an iMentor partner organization has its own project-based curriculum, iMentor helps the agency incorporate a role for volunteer mentors. iMentor also provides training and support to mentors and partner youth agencies to help them implement the iMentor program.
With last years donation from eWEEK, iMentor purchased seven laptops, software and wireless cards, and it launched its Training Tuesdays program. On the second Tuesday of every month, young people are invited to iMentors offices to attend workshops on, among other things, college preparation and résumé writing.
“Beginning [this month], we will be using our newly purchased laptop lab for students to use during these workshop sessions,” said Caroline Kim Oh, executive director of iMentor. “Students will also have access to the laptop lab during regular drop-in times at iMentors offices for those who dont have computer access at home but want to e-mail their mentors outside of their regularly scheduled iMentor class time.”
Plugged in, in Palo Alto, Calif., is a community technology center whose mission is to provide equal access to technology.
Plugged In operates three programs: Plugged In Enterprises, which trains teenagers in the latest Web design technology; Plugged In Greenhouse, a creative arts and technology center for children; and the Technology Access Center, a community production studio, copy center, cyber-library, self-paced learning studio and telecommunications center.
Magda Escobar, executive director of Plugged In, said eWEEKs donation last year helped to fund the establishment of EPA.net, an online community resource center that comprises information and content created for the community of East Palo Alto.
“During the last year, we have worked with 40 community members to write articles for the site,” said Escobar. “For example, Mary Flamer writes stories about East Palo Altos church community, and Kalamu Chache is a local East Palo Alto poet who has become the poetry editor for EPA.net.
“Both of these community members learned to use technology to inform their neighbors about community affairs and to express their thoughts,” Escobar said. “We are very proud of the site.”
Funds from the Excellence Awards will again be donated to YTE, iMentor and Plugged In.
“We are pleased to see the proceeds from our Excellence Awards program used to fund such worthy programs,” said Eric Lundquist, eWEEKs editor in chief. “YTE, iMentor and Plugged In are using the technology we report on and evaluate in eWEEK to benefit communities that might otherwise not have access to it.”
Executive Editor Debra Donston can be reached at [email protected].