COMPUTER TRAINING FOR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:
THREE CASE STUDIES FROM THE TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT OF PACE UNIVERSITY'S SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS
Union Child Care Center. Letti Dowell is controller for the Union Child Care Center (UCDC) in Greenburgh, which operates before and after school programs for lower income families and takes care of children, from 6 weeks to 12 years of age. She lists among her job responsibilities chief accountant, bookkeeper, information systems and webmaster. "I wear many hats," she says. Proper training in each of these functions is essential but not in the budget. Excel, Word and Access are essential office skills these days, and in order to get that training for her staff, at no cost, Dowell turned to Pace University's Technology Center for Education and Community Empowerment. Dowell and many of her co-workers have taken courses at Pace in Excel, Word and/or Access. Previously, UCDC's three bookkeepers did not know how to prepare spreadsheets, but now they can create these documents easily. "This training really helped us speed up the work," says Dowell. She hopes to send more of the agency's 120 staff members through the program at some time in the future.
The Family Service Agency of Westchester, another Technology Center client, serves thousands of customers every year through its social and mental health programs. According to Maureen Stano, administrative director, computer work was a struggle for many of the 260 staff members...but not any more. She says that thanks to the training provided by the Technology Center, employees report "they can do their reports more easily" and are saving time using computer shortcuts. The 25 employees who have taken at least one course so far have "welcomed the chance to learn," says Stano, and would like to learn more. Since training for staff is not something the agency can afford, this would have been impossible without the Pace program. "Pace has been absolutely wonderful to work with," according to Stano, "and we hope they can provide follow-up training and more advanced courses in the future."
Helping Out People Everywhere, Inc. Pace's student-centered approach to training has met great success with Winifred Hartnett, founder and executive director of the H.O.P.E. (Helping Out People Everywhere, Inc.). When she heard about the Pace program, she knew many on her staff who had been struggling with computer work that could really use the training -- including herself.
Her agency handles eviction prevention, housing and domestic violence counseling, among other services, for roughly 800 homeless families per year. "For a 'dinosaur' like myself, I found the training program in both Word and Excel absolutely wonderful," says Hartnett. And it came just in the knick of time. Last month, Hartnett learned she had just three days to submit a grant proposal - complete with tables and charts - and would not have known how to merge documents without the Pace training. "It was a life-saver for me," says Hartnett.
Out of H.O.P.E.'s 27 employees, 23 have participated in the program and the agency has already seen direct benefits. Caseworkers, who have to prepare monthly caseload grids that were previously a big chore, now find that by using Excel the reports are no longer "a big deal to do." The training has not only helped the employees perform their jobs better, faster, easier, thus improving productivity, but also has heightened their self confidence. Hartnett reports "this is the first training that I've ever seen them excited about."
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