Program connects parents to their children’s education

Program connects parents to their children’s education

Technology For All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is partnering with schools in the Houston area to launch a program that encourages student success through parental engagement. Technology For All (TFA) will teach students and their parents how to use online tools which give immediate feedback on student grades and attendance and which allow the parents to communicate with their children’s teachers.  Many local school districts provide these tools, but they are under-utilized.

In the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the tool is called Parent-Student Connect.  It allows students and parents to monitor grades of homework, tests and overall GPA in a class, and to be alerted when those grades drop below or rise above a specified point. Additionally, the program keeps track of absences and sends notification to parents when a student is marked absent. Parents can also use the Parent-Student Connect tool to send direct messages to teachers when problems arise, and get other information about a student’s grades and attendance record.

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Tools of the Trade

TFA adopts a new client survey system

Word CloudHow do you measure mission?  In this age of accountability, it’s not enough for a nonprofit organization to just provide services, altruistic as they may be.  It’s necessary to demonstrate that the provided services are:

  • effective – accomplish the intended goals
  • efficient – have a reasonable cost per unit of service
  • impactful – improve the lives of clients and the communities in which they live

The mission of Technology For All (TFA) is to provide educational, economic and personal opportunities for low-income, under-served and vulnerable persons through the tools of technology.  We do this by providing computer access and training in low-income and under-served communities so that clients can achieve computer competencies that are essential for the new literacy of the 21st Century – competencies that are required for education and employment and for connecting to resources and to the community. So how do we measure our mission?

As of June 2014, we measure it with the aid of a new online client survey and case management system.

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Training Helps Families Stay Connected

Technology For All’s program specialists are always looking to help new computer users find ways to use technology to improve their life. Tom Swinnea, program specialist at the Bastrop Public Library, recently shared the success story of several of his students. Tom said, “With Technology For All, it is always a pleasure to work with someone creating their first email address.  For two Bastrop Public Library patrons, their email lives started last week.”

One older gentleman’s chief need is to communicate more easily with his relatives. He also wanted to share pictures with his extended family, so Tom’s classes taught him email basics, including how to send emails with photo attachments.

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Tech For All Training Classes Generate Success Stories

Pictured: Vic Sowell at the computer, making use of his newfound computer literacy.

Technology For All (TFA) has provided free computer training, under the banner of the Texas Connects Coalition (TXC2) partnership, to rural and underserved communities in Texas since 2009. Since then, thousands of users have attended a number of classes amounting to more than 3 million total hours in training. The training, ranging from basic computer and Internet skills through social media and word processors, helps students to become empowered through computer use.

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