On November 18, 2003, the Technology Matching Fund was renamed the Bill Wright Technology Matching Fund in memorial tribute to a Seattle community leader who embodied the spirit of the goals of the Technology Matching Fund. The Technology Matching Fund (TMF) was established in 1997 to level the playing field for technology underserved populations by promoting citizen access to information technology and literacy in using technology. The program was designed to support work in three areas:
- Increase points of public access to computers and information technology
- Support information technology literacy education and training
- Encourage information technology applications that support neighborhood planning and action
William H. Wright (Bill) provided both the spirit and the action that was our intent increating the Technology Matching Fund.
Bill’s community involvement in Seattle began as housing services director for the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). He then joined the City of Seattle as a telecommunications planner in Seattle’s cable office and later served as special assistant to Mayor Charles Royer. In 1995, Bill co-authored a study of the coming opportunities of electronic commerce on the Internet for the Washington State Administrative Services Department. Bill was also active in programs that advocate for people getting out of prison and returning to the community as contributors.
Bill served as executive director of MidTown Commons in Seattle’s Central Area from 1998 until his death in July 2003. Under his leadership, MidTown served everyone - kids, seniors, small businesses and families in need. Bill was a community builder and an innovator. He approached his work with deep caring, respect, creativity and an undying enthusiasm for the potential of every resident to succeed and contribute. Bill was instrumental in efforts to bring economic prosperity and opportunity back to the 23rd and Union community.
Bill lived the vision of community technology. He built out a computer lab at Midtown and used it as a tool for his community building work. Midtown Commons received a Technology Matching Fund grant in 1999 to support training and Internet publication of the Central Area Newsletter. The newsletter was one part of Bill’s larger leadership effort to bring together the diverse voices of the greater Central area. In 2002, MidTown stepped forward to bring the City’s Seniors Training Seniors program into the lab. Bill worked with Weed and Seed to provide SeedTech, a computer and job skills training program. In another example of his work as an economic development bridge builder, Bill provided another Technology Matching Fund recipient, Washington Cash, with the opportunity to use his community technology center to train low-income businesses.
Bill received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio State University in 1971 and went to work as a documentary film producer for Ohio State's Department of Photography and Cinema. After writing, directing and producing several films he spent the next 10 years working as a state government Public Information Officer and later became an independent film producer in Ohio and the Midwest.
Naming the Bill Wright Technology Matching Fund strengthens our resolve to further the principles of the city’s community technology program. It provides a role model and it reminds us and future recipients of the individual and community commitment required to provide digital opportunities for all.