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24

Apr

The Community Corps led a “Technology Women in Action” event called Geek is Chic at New York Life. The initiative invited high school girls from Digital Ready (a New York City Department of Education initiative) Schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx to participate in a workshop with women professionals to illustrate in a hands-on way, the range of technical careers available. Break-out groups met with five different departments within New York Life’s headquarters where girls learned about careers in tech audit, PR and Communications and IT. Twenty executives from New York Life in addition to lunch panel discussions were held with five Tech Sales reps from SAP and EMC. The students enjoyed an in-depth visit to New York Life’s in-house TV/Film studio where the girls learned about:

  • Web site development and social media
  • Graphic design and advance sales presentations
  • Filming advertising
  • Editing film
  • Server and distribution management of video
  • Managing studio during filming
  • Participants: Digital Ready Schools (30 female high school students, grades 10-11):

AOIT – Academy of Innovative Technology, Brooklyn
BIHS – Brooklyn International High School, Brooklyn
BASE – Bronx Academy of Software Engineering, Bronx

“Today has been a huge inspiration because it actually changed my mind of where I want to be in the future because I thought I wanted to be in the Army doing health, but I think now I actually want to do camerawork because I’m interested in taking pictures. I met a lot of different people who came from a lot of different directions and they inspire me because sometimes I feel like I’m not going to be able to make it, but that most of them had the same issues as me and they still made their way and found the direction they wanted to be in and I think this might be a choice in my future.”  - 11th Grader at Brooklyn’s Academy of Innovative Technology 

07

Apr

NPower Jazz 2014 Wrap-Up & Photos

Can you believe that NPower Jazz 2014 was two weeks ago already? We’ve now heard many times that people felt “transported” by the beautiful venue and of course, by Grammy award-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Those of you who could not join us, you can search our #NPowerJazz14 hashtag across social media to get a sense of the excitement of that memorable evening.

This amazing benefit would not have been possible without the help of our sponsors, partners and friends who support NPower’s mission to mobilize the tech community and provide individuals, nonprofits and schools access and opportunity to build tech skills and achieve their potential.

Thank you for joining us and we look forward to collaborating throughout the rest of 2014.

05

Mar

March is Women’s History Month!

Every March, Women’s History Month is celebrated around the world, highlighting the contributions of women to history and contemporary society. And although we’ve made great strides in closing the gender gap in the workplace - women now make up 48% of the United States workforce - they form only 24% of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce. This statistic that has held constant for nearly a decade, even while this sector has been growing three times faster than average. These numbers mean that women are not fully participating in the tech boom – not starting companies, not building apps, not becoming millionaires and not having their voices heard at the same rate as men.

Why haven’t things changed?
Based on research to date, many women often cite uncomfortable classroom experiences and workplace climate. One company taking action is New York Life. Senior women from New York Life’s IT group have partnered with NPower’s Community Corps and the New York City Department of Education to sponsor a Tech Career Day for high school girls. Thirty young women from two Digital Ready High Schools,  Academy of Innovative Technology (AOIT) and Bronx Academy of Software Engineering (BASE), will visit New York Life’s headquarters, interact with senior IT leaders, and see female IT leaders in action.  Gaining real-world experience and conversing with women who are leaders in their organizations can counter stereotypes and free someone to achieve a fulfilling and transformative career.

You too can help young women pursue their dreams. Through our Community Corps program, we have connected to hundreds of nonprofits and education partners that are looking for talented professionals like you who want to help people achieve their potential.  Be a role model, be a virtual awards judge or serve as a part-time communications manager for an after school tech program.  Opportunities are out there.  Won’t you join in? Find out more about our mentoring opportunities

20

Jan

Pay it Forward, Martin Luther King Style

Post by Rukia Jeffrey, Volunteer Coordinator, NPower

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It was beautiful. It was tall. Thousands of peoples were in attendance on that joyous day nearly three years ago, to witness the opening of the MLK memorial that was 20 years in the making. I remember traveling four hours with my mom, only looking at it as a fun trip and not as a moment in history. Years later, as I reflect on that moment, I’m more appreciative and understanding as to why that occasion was so momentous and thankful to have witnessed it.

As we reflect on Dr. King’s teaching and service to which he dedicated his life, I realize the national observation of his birthday was created to be a ‘day on, not a day off’. He once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”

Dr. King dedicated his life to service and fighting injustices for all. We don’t have to be on the frontline as he was, but we can live a purposeful life. One way to follow his example is to act as mentors and role models for this generations and generations to come. Many of us may have been inspired or influenced by one or more persons we consider to be mentors to our lives. So as National Mentoring Month continues, I believe the best thanks to Dr. King would be paying it forward.

From helping at youth robotic competitions to being a virtual mentor from the comfort of your own home, NPower has many skills-based volunteering opportunities through its program The Community Corps.

So click here to check out these opportunities and let Martin Luther King inspire you to give back!

14

Jan

Calling for Mentors, STEM Nonprofits and Schools to Join the Million Women Mentors Initiative

Women comprise around half the U.S. workforce, but just 24% work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. What’s more, 80% of the fastest growing occupations in our nation depend on STEM knowledge and skills.

We want to do something about this disparity. That’s why we’re a founding partner of Million Women Mentors, a national campaign led by STEMconnector® to increase the interest of one million young women in STEM careers by connecting them to one million mentors.

We’re calling corporations and tech-savvy professionals to get involved and volunteer to be mentors, as well as nonprofits that need mentors for the young women they serve. It’s simple to sign up through our skills-based volunteering website, The Community Corps, and find transformational STEM mentoring opportunities in a few clicks.

Register now


NPower Mentoring


Regina Dombkowski is a young woman who experienced powerful career progression when NPower connected her to technology professional Joanna Durand, Managing Director and Global Program Management Head at Citi. Starting out in any industry without a job, connections or experience is tough for anyone. But with Joanna’s support throughout the job search, Regina was able to improve her resume, receive timely coaching for interviews and make new connections. “For people who’ve been in the business world for some time, it’s easy to underestimate how powerful their advice can be,” says Regina. “What’s second nature to them can bring incredible value to a mentee.”  She believes that the support she received from Joanna was integral to successfully landing the prestigious role as Business Analyst in a tech division at Citi. Regina is now in a leadership development program and looking forward to a bright future.

Support more young women like Regina by registering for mentoring opportunities on NPower’s The Community Corps.

08

Jan

Announcing Our Partnership with Million Women Mentors

Women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce, but just 24% are in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – a statistic that has held constant for nearly a decade. We want to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM careers, so we’re excited to announce our collaboration as lead partner in the Million Women Mentors initiative.

Launching today, Million Women Mentors is a national campaign led by STEMconnector® and driven by a unique group of nonprofits, corporations and government agencies. Its purpose is to increase the interest of one million young women in STEM by connecting them to one million mentors from related fields.

NPower and Accenture are both founding partners of Million Women Mentors, so we’re celebrating the Million Women Mentors launch with a Q&A with Cathinka Wahlstrom, Senior Managing Director and Head of Banking North America at Accenture. As a member of NPower’s Board of Directors, Cathinka is intimately involved in mentoring and championing women in tech. We invited her to share some words of wisdom.

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Cathinka Wahlstrom (left) supporting Aminah Roberts at her graduation from NPower’s Technology Service Corps program last month
 

Q&A with Cathinka Wahlstrom

Q. What do you think has contributed to your professional success?

I’ve always strived to develop a career capital that is based on the ability to quickly adapt to change. It requires persistence to hone the right skills, deliver results for clients, and find the right mentors. Having a good network of mentors has also offered me the opportunity to learn from others who have different experiences than me.

Q. What advice do you give young people about building career capital?

Building career capital requires the ability to be flexible and take risks. People should also look for opportunities to stretch themselves through constant collaboration and networking within their company as well as in the community. I recommend raising your hand and say, “I want to help, “I want that job,” or “Give me a chance to contribute to the team.” Also, proactively seek mentors. They provide a great deal of guidance through your career journey and can sometimes provide suggestions for career paths that you may have not considered before.

Q. You have noted having the right skills and mentoring to be critical to career success. Can you elaborate?

A career can be challenging so it’s important to develop the right skills through training and experience. It’s also important to remember that a career is a continuous learning process. Always ask questions, and take on new challenges to grow your skill set, but find a mentor too. A mentor provides a valuable resource to help you focus and maintain perspective.

Q. Can you share how you got involved with NPower and what is your current role?

As a Board member, I know that NPower and Accenture share a common commitment to equip people with the skills necessary to succeed in technology careers through training and mentoring. That’s what makes our partnership so impactful.

Accenture is a founding member of NPower and we continue to be involved through their programs Technology Service Corps, The Community Corps, and through the Board and Advisory Councils. We are also excited to support the new mentoring and continuing education initiative for alumni of the Technology Service Corps, which builds brighter futures for underserved young adults and veterans through free technology and professional skills training. Accenture’s employees, including several who are Technology Service Corps alumni, are passionate about the organization and love volunteering. It’s inspiring to work with other business partners to move NPower’s mission forward and help thousands of people develop technology skills.

Q: What is something that excites you about technology careers right now?

Technology is changing at an unprecedented rate and the career opportunities are numerous – for women and men alike. As a result, NPower and Accenture have been active in promoting STEM education for girls and women. It’s exciting when you see a student find a passion for math, science and technology and realize she just found a promising career for herself.

Interested in becoming a mentor?
Sign up by registering at thecommunitycorps.org 

13

Dec

How Tata Consultancy Services Engages New Employees in Giving Back


This summer, NPower and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) teamed up to roll out a new program to broaden employee volunteerism and provide tech expertise to nonprofits across the United States.

TCS instills the importance of volunteering and social responsibility by incorporating volunteer projects into the onboarding process for new consultants. “TCS has a distinctive culture of volunteerism, and our employees play an active role in contributing to the development of the communities where we live and work. Partnering with NPower underscores our commitment to giving back to individuals, nonprofits and communities in need,” said Surya Kant, President, TCS North America, UK & Europe.

New consultants were assigned to teams to provide technical consulting services to nonprofit organizations. The teams met with the nonprofits on a weekly basis to understand their organizational needs and technical issues. Each TCS team created customized technical plans designed to address each nonprofits’ unique technical needs.

At the end of the project, 80 TCS consultants had advised over 20 nonprofits in topics ranging from how to upgrade servers and websites to the pros and cons of cloud based services. The projects had a profound effect on both the consultants and the nonprofits.

The consultants were able to gain real-world consulting experience and learn the importance of understanding client needs, as well the ability to take complex technical solutions and break them down into easily digestible pieces for non-technical audiences.  “It feels rewarding to learn about the nonprofit and know how much you help,” said Travis Smith, a new consultant that participated in the program. “It’s a small impact on the world, but it means so much for the people we’re assisting.”

The nonprofits were thrilled to receive high quality technical consulting that is normally only accessible to larger, for-profit organizations.  Susan Vilardo of the nonprofit Literacy Council of Brown and Clermont County said, “The team was willing to listen to the needs of our organization and heard, clearly, that the budget would not provide for much ‘wiggle’ room.  They used their creative thinking, thought outside of the box and came up with ways to modify existing formats, working with what we already have and produced end results that were very attainable!”

We’re looking forward to next year, when our goal is to at least double the number of nonprofits served! If you’re a nonprofit interested in free consulting, contact NPower at concierge@thecommunitycorps.org

18

Nov

4 Nonprofit Technology Scenarios – and How an IT Volunteer Can Help


Guest Post, Karen Graham, Director, Technology & Innovation, MAP 



Imagine for a moment you’re the executive director of a small nonprofit anti-poverty organization. You’re expected to be an expert on poverty, management, accounting, law, human resources, facilities, HIPAA, the intricacies of county funding…and let’s not forget technology. You won’t have the resources most businesses take for granted. Unrestricted funding for technology planning, staff skill development, and hardware and software investments will be tough to find.

A volunteer can make a huge difference in this situation, by providing technical knowledge and skills, and increasing the organization’s capacity to do great work. But how do you determine the best sort of help to ask for?

Now imagine you’re the technology volunteer. What should you expect, walking into a nonprofit organization for the first time? How can you be successful, and really make a difference?

As someone who works with small (under $5 million/year) nonprofits day in and day out, I’d like to share four situations I’ve encountered, which typify the challenges small organizations have related to technology. Nonprofits might use this to help them create appropriate volunteer assignments and give the volunteers helpful background information. Volunteers might use these scenarios to assess the situation, then choose an appropriate approach to volunteering.

Great tools, no strategy
This organization has all the latest and greatest: a brand new server, a Drupal web site with interactive graphics, a fleet of iPads, and the best donor database money can buy. They got a grant to make these investments, and a board member who worked for [insert high tech company here] helped them set everything up. Now the board member’s term is up, the grant money is spent, and no one remembers the password to update the web site. The iPads are sitting in their boxes, because no one has had time to unpack them yet.

What does this organization need? They need to put someone in charge of technology, allow that person enough time to do the work, and allocate a budget for ongoing maintenance and service. Better yet, they need a technology plan that is aligned with their strategic goals, and includes appropriate investments. As a skilled IT volunteer, you can help them to research tools and devise a strategic technology plan. Make sure you are considering their ability to use and maintain technology based on their skill level, not yours, unless you are very committed to volunteering in the long term. You can also be their expert witness, when they seek funding for technology as an operating expense.

Garbage dump
Picture a crowded office, books and papers pile to the ceiling, and nestled among them are mismatched, elderly computers. A few laptops are piled in a corner, covered with dust – gifts from a corporate patron. Those laptops aren’t usable, because they have old operating system that won’t run their database software. There’s a spare printer too; it just showed up on the doorstep one day, probably donated by some well-meaning soul. It might work if they can special-order the right ink cartridge.

What does this organization need? To put it bluntly, they need decent equipment, not cast-off junk. Every minute spent waiting for a machine to boot up is a minute not spent on more productive activities. As a volunteer, you can empower them to evaluate which gifts to accept and which to graciously decline, by setting office-wide standards on software versions, replacement schedules, and warranty and service plans. When they do receive useful donated equipment, help them set everything up (connect to networks, local printers, etc.) and get it running smoothly.

Scrappy Startup
This organization is small and new, operating out of the founders’ home or a tiny office. Needless to say, there is no IT staff. Every spare penny of the small budget goes into the program, with nothing left for staff training and development. The founders and volunteers may be uninformed and inexperienced with technology, and therefore making a lot of bad decisions.

What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? Provide mentoring on basic skills, and a sounding board for technology decisions. Connect the organization with free resources, including practical guides, and urge them to adopt best practices.

Accidental Techie Hard at Work
This organization is small, with no formal IT staff members. But they have a creative and resourceful “accidental techie” who finds free tools and keeps them humming along.

What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? Offer mentoring and encouragement for the accidental techie, as well as advocacy for the training and support they need to succeed. Make sure the accidental techie is connected with great resources, like MAP’s TechWorks learning and networking program. And feed that culture of innovation. Some of the most innovative applications of technology we’ve seen are coming out of small nonprofits with a propensity for experimentation and rapid iteration.

Or, None of the Above
Don’t be surprised if you discover an organization where none of these scenarios apply. Lots of small nonprofits have a well-informed, strategic approach to technology.

What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? If you’re fortunate enough to find one of these organizations, you’ll probably be able to identify specific areas where you can bring added value. While you’re there, give them a pat on the back for a job well done!

15

Nov

CA Technologies Making a Difference with Employee Volunteering

Guest post by Erica Christensen, VP, Corporate Social Responsibility, CA Technologies


 

At CA Technologies, we don’t just help companies simplify and solve their most challenging IT issues. We also believe in helping to improve the quality of life in communities where our employees live and work worldwide. CA Together, our global Corporate Social Responsibility program, supports organizations, programs and initiatives that enrich the lives and well-being of others with a primary focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.

That’s why we’re pleased to support NPower and their Technology Service Corps program, which builds brighter futures by delivering free IT and professional skills training for underserved young adults. We bolstered our support for this important work when our CEO, Mike Gregoire, recently joined NPower’s Board of Directors.  And as part of our annual employee volunteer month in October, CA Together in Action, we hosted NPower’s Harlem and Brooklyn-based students for a career panel and lunch at our New York City  office.  The students participated in conversations focused around  tech-related topics with a  panel of CA Technologies employees, led by Trevor Bunker, Senior Vice President of our Global Presales organization. 

                  NPower students talk with Trevor Bunker, SVP, Global Presales, CA Technologies (pictured standing), and Matthew Strazza, General Manager, Professional Services, CA Technologies

Since its inception in 2005, CA Together in Action has collectively provided support to more than 1,000 volunteer projects with approximately 45,000 hours of community service. Employees are able to use up to three work days each year to volunteer with organizations of their choice. Giving back in the communities where we live and work is an important part of our company’s culture. Year after year our participation numbers have continued to grow, demonstrating the commitment our employees have to giving back in their communities.

Together, we truly can make a difference.

12

Nov

Honoring Those Who Served

 

Guest post by Kris Falvo, Regional Director, Dallas



Veteran’s day has always been meaningful to me. Perhaps it stems from me, as a little girl, watching my father stand at attention whenever the national anthem played.  No matter the place or the situation, the beginning of the Super Bowl or at the start of my son’s Little League baseball game, my father, a Korean War veteran, would stand at attention.  The special day of remembrance grew when I would see my husband’s old Air Force uniform as it hung in the closet. A Vietnam veteran, he was still proud to keep it with his other clothes, not putting it away like a distant memory. These events reminded me to give pause - to reflect on those who serve our country. More recently, Veterans Day allows me to honor my own son who served in the Marine’s Infantry during the Iraq war and was deployed three different times. As a mother of a Marine, Veteran’s Day is even more important. It reminds me that our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands are still engaged to secure our freedom.

This is why my joining NPower was so important to me. It was an opportunity to serve those who served all of us. NPower’s mission is to harness the power of the tech community to help nonprofits, schools and underserved individuals build tech skills. In Dallas, providing veterans with IT and career development training not only serves as a much needed antidote to the national shortage of STEM skills, but also provides support for the veterans who are leaving the military and returning to the civilian world.

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Kris Falvo and son Phil Falvo, USMC
 
TSC Dallas Veterans Inaugural Graduate Class


This solution hits home with me. I witnessed my own son, coming home after four years in the military. He served his country for four years, learning to communicate and work in a military environment. After leaving the military, however, he was challenged to find training to live his life as a normal member of the civilian community. Of course, like many coming out of the military, he hit road blocks. However, he had his parents, who could provide him a place to live, pay for his education and work with him to find employment.  

He’s lucky. Many do not have the same support system. Even so, he still struggled to adapt to the difference between  military and civilian life.

I am passionate about NPower because it provides a holistic approach for veterans returning to civilian life. Our career development offers veterans like my son an opportunity to visit job sites, network with hiring managers, and learn how to communicate using “civilian language.” NPower takes veterans  skill set  and enhances it to fit the employment needs of our IT partners. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to giving back to those who have given so much.

As I celebrate Veterans Day, I reflect on my father standing at attention and my husband’s and son’s service. To all of our nation’s service men and women - for your dedication, service and sacrifice - I proudly salute you.

www.npower.org