I N S I D E
what's hotIssue 26, February 2006
Free WiFi is now available in Westlake Park in downtown Seattle It's being tested by the Downtown Seattle Association, with support from a City of Seattle Community Technology Fund grant. Find out more. There's also free WiFi in the main downtown library and City Hall, including City Council chambers.
No Phishing! Phishing is computer fraud that happens when a victim receives an unsolicited email that appears to be from a legitimate business and that links to a legitimate looking web site. It might look like a bank web site or even a utility web site. The victim is encouraged to enter personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates. But it’s not a real business or utility web site, and crooks steal the credit card information.
The City of Seattle has a anti-fraud policy and will never request confidential personal or financial information via an unsolicited email or via a link within an email. For more information on phishing, visit the Federal Trade Commission web site.
Cisco grants equipment to senior tech matching fund project. Cisco Systems has just awarded a grant of more than $60,000 in equipment and support to the Kawabe and Hilltop House low income housing communities. Arranged by the City and leveraging our 2003 Technology Matching Fund grant, Cisco will provide wireless and networking equipment to provide each resident with a computer, Internet and training.
It's not too late to get free cable Internet and modem for your local CTC. These free connections are currently only available in the Comcast service delivery area and within the Seattle city limits. For more information and to download a short form to make application, go to our tech web. If you have questions, email Derrick Hall or call (206) 233-5061.
Back issues of Brainstorm including techtips and linkages are now available in our online archives. Click to revisit all previous issues.
To subscribe or unsubscribe to Brainstorm, please email us, and we'll add you to our email notification list, or subtract you per your request. If you have ideas for future stories, please let us know and we'll try to accommodate them. We encourage you to visit the City of Seattle's Community Tech pages, seattle.gov/tech.
"We’re one of the most wired cities in the world, but there’s still much we can do to bring the benefits of this technology revolution to all segments of our city." -Mayor Greg Nickels
"We’re one of the most wired cities in the world, but there’s still much we can do to bring the benefits of this technology revolution to all segments of our city."
-Mayor Greg Nickels
Greg Nickels, Mayor
director, office of
D.H. CASS MAGNUSKI
On February 23, a brown bag session was held in council chambers to report on the success of the International District Housing Alliance WILD Community Perspectives Project and the IDHA's Intergenerational Dialog about community issues. The project was funded last year through a Technology Matching Fund grant of $9,000, meant to increase the diversity of participation in International District improvement. The project brought youth and seniors together, using PDAs with digital cameras to assess conditions and capture important images of their community. The results will be used to engage the International District community and policymakers in a dialog intended to positively impact neighborhood policies.
Jim Compton was impressed. "What was powerful was the idea. When people love their city, they have powerful ideas about how they might get together and accomplish something. I'm struck with how this is a wonderful first step. They really understood it. They took great pictures. Because of their language ability, they were able to translate community issues to community elders. We could not have done that alone," he said.
Participants reported that they were excited about the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the uses of PDAs, digital photography, and in learning to categorize and analyze the information that they have gathered. They developed a PowerPoint presentation and used that in concert with public speaking skills they were able to hone. Community elders appreciated the opportunity to have input on the project because it bridged language barriers. The City funds helped leverage several other funding sources, as well, furthering their goal of sustainability.
Youth were given PDAs to use in reporting problems in the ID that need to be fixed. According to one participant, "I think the reason I liked this project is I can express my ideas through the photograph. It's also great for the elders, because they can point out and say, 'There's graffiti, there's a trip hazard.' So it does transcend language, too. We translated the information to other community members who can't understand English, and helped them to understand city processes. Before this, I think they felt left out. A participating elder agreed. "This project provides us a great opportunity to express our thoughts, because it overrides the need to speak English. This helps us to reconnect with the community. It helps us to overcome the feeling of loneliness from being detached from the community."
IDHA's mission is to improve the quality of life for International District residents and Asians and Pacific islanders of Greater Seattle by providing community-building and low-income housing related services. They offer a language capability that includes five Chinese dialects, plus Tagalog, Pangasinan, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean and even some Spanish.
Funded through a $3,700 grant from the Bill Wright Technology Matching Fund, the Community Day School Association (CDSA) Parents and Providers Advocacy Project is helping parents to gain computer skills, advocate for themselves and others, and to learn about civic and community issues that affect them and their children. The Family Literacy Program at Leschi Elementary School used the Technology Matching Funds to create a family resource center with a networked computer bank and reading library. They offer free services to families, including computer skills and software training for children and adults, literacy programs, homework assistance programs, and parenting programs. Monthly evening workshops are being held on issues chosen by parents. The next one is on March 16, on public health, and will address the issues of childhood obesity, immunizations and nutrition, and lessons on how to use a computer to obtain health information online. CDSA has five before- and afterschool programs located at Madrona, Hawthorne, Leschi, Montlake, and Sanislo elementary. They also have two preschool programs at Leschi and Madrona and summer programs at each site.
Founded in 1977 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing quality out of school programs for children ages 5-12, CDSA is dedicated to providing affordable quality services to children and families in safe and caring surroundings. They seek to promote each person’s intellectual, physical and social development within a diverse community and with an emphasis on respect for self, others, and the environment. CDSA’s programs include childcare, homework and other academic assistance, cultural and social skills activities, literacy development, and parent and family services. CDSA serves approximately 600 children and their families each year at five central and south Seattle school locations.
According to Executive Director Caryn Swan Jamero, "Our goal is to help develop each child’s self-esteem by promoting intellectual, physical, and social growth. CDSA provides a safe, productive environment in which children can develop the ability to relate to others peacefully and learn to appreciate the rich diversity of people they will encounter in life."
"Our evidence from the previous years shows that people would want to use computers in relation to what they really need, and not as an abstract thing. We wanted to do a series of evening workshops that parents would be excited about, because in the past when we said, 'Oh, come to a computer class,' a lot of people said, 'Oh, I'd rather just sit at home and watch television.' So we did a survey to ask people, 'If you had the choice, what would be easier to do if you could do it on a computer?' The result was a list of topics they could check off, plus an open-ended question where they could make suggestions. The survey resulted in monthly workshops on Kids and the Arts, computer basics, Childcare Subsidies for Children in Seattle, No Child Left Behind, City of Seattle Department of Neighborhood grants, City Council and Schoolboard, Public Health, Fostering Further Collaborations Between Central Area School, and Police and the Community. Last month, at the workshop on City Council and the School Board, David Keyes attended. He was able to show us the City website in detail. People never realized that they could pay their electric bill online, file complaints, and do other things. It was really valuable. The speakers really only talk for 10 or 15 minutes. Then we go to the computers."
"Parents see that this can save them time. It's easy and fast for them to learn computing here, because they come here anyway to pick up their children every day. So we created a lab time at 5:30. Kids are using it from the time they get out of school at 3:00 until 5:30. From 5:30 till 7:30 or 8:00, it's parent lab time. We also do food in the evening. So people can come, their kids are already there, they have child care, they get to eat dinner. What happens for the parents is that between 5:30 and 6:00, they still have child care. So they can come in there and spend that half hour writing their resumes, sending it out to employers, looking up web sites, using Mapquest, downloading coupons, finding bus routes, seeking family counseling, food stamps, and all sorts of stuff. It's open to the general public, but we haven't had a lot of public participation outside of our parent group, except when the Douglass Truth Library was closed, but they went back when it reopened."
The workshops and lab are well appreciated. According to Jamero, "You realize the level of help people need. A lot of people don't have telephone at home, so they can't have dial-up. People don't have cable and very frequently don't have bank accounts or credit cards. So they can't pay their bills online. It makes you realize that having a place like this is very important to them. It's really valuable. One parent made a demand at the last workshop. She said, 'When I come in at 5:30, I really need the kids to be off the computers because I have stuff to do.' This illustrates how very serious they are about this access."
"Another user, Lisa Johnson, really wanted a whole series on employment. For example, there are web sites that tell you how to get through a job interview successfully, how to dress for an interview, manners, language to use and where slang doesn't work. They are interested in learning writing, punctuation, and how to write letters of interest. That's so effective for job hunting. She wanted a whole series just on that, but it didn't come up in the survey. Maybe next year."
Jamero said, "Most of the users of the computer lab are parents of kids that attend Leschi Elementary School and/or parents of kids who attend Leschi Community Day School. Those are two different things. The school as a whole has 350 students. About 50 of those kids come to child care. So that's before and after school care and pre-school. The highest percentage of parents who use the lab are people whose children are actually enrolled in our program. And they're coming there anyway to pick up their children, and they're riding the bus, so to go to several places, its a mess. There's food and snacks out there, which means they can hang out and use the computer. So it's really convenient. Others come across the hall when something is going on at the school in general. They'll do some computer work before they go home."
Of the 40 or 50 kids they serve, about 75 percent are on state or City subsidy. They have to be fairly low income to qualify.
"There 's a core group," said Jamero. "We get an average of 20 regular users. Our open door policy makes them come back and even bring a buddy. Kids are in a room down the hall, but they can come over and talk to their parents. One of the reasons they're on DSHS is that so many are unemployed. We're 49th out of 50 among the states when it comes to DSHS benefits. No wonder families are barely making it. A lot of kids are going home with keys around their necks. They should be getting two meals a day, one-on-one homework assistance, social skills development, peer mediation. We've got the space, but we can't afford to serve everybody. There's all these people that need it. Parent co-pay is $10 or $15 a month, and DSHS pays the rest."
"The schools are so segregated here," said Jamero. "We'd like more people to choose Leschi, and that would increase our clients' abilities to co-pay. There was a demographic shift about eight or 10 years ago, where the middle class families pulled their kids out of that school and out of our program, and sent them either to private schools or schools up north. For those who don't qualify, we raise about $20,000 or $30,000 a year for tuition assistance, and offer that until it runs out. There are plenty of families that can't afford child care for three or four kids. Eighty percent qualify for free lunch. Ninety percent are African American, five percent causcasian, another five percent are other people of color. That's just at Leschi where the lab is. Users are predominantly women. Men often don't want to admit ignorance of computers."
It isn't all work, however, according to Jamero. "A lot of times the parents use that time to do something fun with their children, so we even have folks using Mario Teaches Typing, and educational or other games. Here's a free time with my child, a time to hang out. In the old days, we would have sat down and played Monopoly together. Last year, one of our workshops was on geneology. When people found the birthplace of their great grandparents, they were just in tears. You could hear hoots and hollers, people were so excited. We showed them how to do digital photography, while kids made frames for the photos."
Jamero sites computer maintenance as a current challenge for CDSA. "We don't have budget for maintenance. It's not only that we didn't earmark enough money to contract for that over time, but it's also true that computer maintenance has gotten a lot more complicated. This spyware thing is completely new. We did some work with NPower and hired two different private companies at a special price to debug all the computers. But their next estimate was about $3,000, and we couldn't do that. We're working on the projected budget for next year, so we will put between $3,000 and $5,000 into the budget for computer maintenance, but that's money that won't go into tuition assistance.
To date, the CDSA lab has been using the Seattle Public Schools Internet connection, but that has resulted in problems. "We spent a lot of time setting up free email accounts for our parents, using Hotmail and Yahoo! SPS disallowed them for their students, without letting us know, and our parents lost their email addresses. So we're still working on that right now," said Jamero. They are looking into getting free Internet access through Comcast, and are working with Derrick Hall on that front.
The lab helps parents to bond with their children. "It lets them bond with their child around learning something, and it lets the child be a teacher a lot of times. So its a big self-esteem builder," according to Jamero. "I can show you that, kids say. I can show you how to cut and paste. It's really cute, and it helps parents understand the need for a family computer. There's a connection between kids' computer proficiency and their ability to go on to college. It's just part of being competitive and able to get a job that isn't minimum wage, a job that you can survive on and raise children. If the parents don't understand that, then that's just more of a divider."
"All of our sites need a similar type of thing," said Jamero. "This is just Leschi. And we have Madrona and Hawthorne, where we have one computer. We could use more computers, and we could use funding. You know, we have to pay staff to stay late for the lab hours. Typically, we don't have enough money to do that. So, as much as we'd like to branch out from child care, and say that another piece of our mission is educating parents on computers, without additional funding, we can't do that. Our fee for service approach can only cover what we're already doing. This is an extra thing that we love to do, and we're really good at it, too. We know how to survey parents, discern their interests, advertise to get them there, and do the program, and we're in a good position to deliver through our five different programs. All five of those programs can have computer labs like this. Our staff would love to do it. At every site, there's at least one person who says, I'll stay till eight. I'll do the computer lab Monday thourgh Thursday. Pay me, I think it's fun. There's staff that would do it and there's parents that would do it."
The City of Seattle web site celebrates its 10th anniversary this year! Seattle.gov began as a dial-in bulletin board system (bbs) in December, 1994. It started quietly with the city distributing floppy disks with the bbs software to interested users.
The web original web interface was activated during the week ending February 1, 1995. A total of 33 users accessed the site that day. On February 7, 1995, a picture of the City Council linking to a bio of each individual member was implemented.
Elsewhere in 1995, JAVA was first launched, Real Audio began netcasting, large-scale online dial-up services offered Internet access, the Y2K problem was first addressed, E-Bay was founded, Amazon.com was launched, the Internet Explorer and Mozilla web browsers were released, applets spread in use, and the WWW became the service with the most internet traffic. Speeding through time, we now have Seattle.gov as an alternative to pan.seattle.gov (whew!) FYI, for a while, the federal government reserved the use of .gov websites for federal agencies only. In 2004, half of Seattle residents used the City web site, and averaged more than 900,000 user sessions per month. Read more about the development of Seattle’s online services and the web.
Deadline for letters of inquiry: Ongoing
The GTECH After School Advantage Program provides state-of-the-art computer labs to nonprofit organizations in inner-city communities where GTECH's offices are located. GTECH donates up to $15,000 for computers, on-line technology, computer software, and in volunteer hours to after-school programs targeting minority and at-risk children aged five to 15. Nonprofit community agencies with existing after-school programs in need of a computer lab in jurisdictions in which GTECH does business are eligible to apply.
Deadline: April 1
The Foundation was established to help empower America's youth. The goal of the Foundation is to be a major force in improving education by focusing on preparing students for the demands of today's global society. In addition, the Foundation is committed to investing in health-related organizations and cultural programs that impact a diverse population of youth.
Deadlines: March 31Community Youth-Led Research Grants The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) requests proposals for research that is conducted by young people. Teams that include youth researchers may apply to investigate a community issue of their choice.