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The SBC Foundation
, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc., this week awarded $55,000 in SBC Excelerator technology grants to eight local nonprofit organizations in Beloit, Janesville and Madison.
SBC Excelerator is a major philanthropic initiative that connects the nation's neediest residents, including at-risk youth and underserved urban families, to important community resources. The program also empowers nonprofits to use technology to expand the reach of services and to heighten the impact those services have on people in the community.
The SBC Foundation provided $6 million in 2005 SBC Excelerator competitive grants to 513 nonprofit organizations throughout the SBC 13-state region. The competitive grant program is part of an overall $7 million 2005 SBC Excelerator initiative. Now in its fourth year, SBC Excelerator has provided $33 million to more than 2,000 nonprofit organizations around the country to build stronger communities and improve lives improved technology infrastructure and service enhancements.
With the development of new applications, nonprofits are finding innovative ways to employ technology to meet their missions, such as distance learning, the digitization of museum collections and telemedicine. But ideas often outpace resources, with many of these organizations facing technological limitations on a daily basis.
"Technology plays a crucial role in an organization's ability to make an impact in the communities they serve," says Sen. Judy Robson. "I look forward to the improvements these grants will bring in how area non-profits are able to reach and interact with local residents."
SBC Excelerator technology grants are designed to address the shortfall by providing the funding needed for critical infrastructure, such as communications systems, computer networks, client management databases and Internet access.
"Nonprofit organizations in Beloit, Janesville and Madison make a profound difference in our communities and in the lives of people across the country," said Paul La Schiazza, president, SBC Wisconsin. "We commend Sen. Robson for her commitment to helping communities at the local level and acknowledging the key role local nonprofits play in delivering community services. Through her work in the state Legislature, Sen. Robson continues to lay the groundwork and to support the initiatives that advance technology infrastructure."
The stability of a nonprofit's technology infrastructure can make a dramatic difference in the quality of service they are able to provide, according to Scott Schaffer, executive director of NPower, a national network of nonprofit organizations that help other nonprofits use technology to better serve their communities.
"As nonprofits become more familiar with the possibilities that technology offers them, we are seeing more creative ways of using it as a service delivery tool across all sectors," Schaffer said. "One idea tends to lead to another."
To further spur ideas, NPower has produced a series of white papers highlighting technology innovation in four nonprofit sectors: arts and culture, health and human services, education and community development. Available for downloading, at www.sbc.com/foundation
, each Technology Guide for Nonprofits aims to explain the possibilities of technology and to provide nonprofit leaders with real-world examples demonstrating that potential.
The south central Wisconsin 2005 SBC Excelerator recipients illustrate the variety of uses of technology applications across the following program areas: Health and Human Services
Boys & Girls Club of Janesville
Wisconsin Council of the Blind (Madison)
Rape Crisis Center of Dane County (Madison) Community Development
Rock County Habitat for Humanity (Janesville)
Madison Area Literacy Council
Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (Madison)
Voluntary Action Center (Beloit)Arts and Culture
Madison Children's Museum
"Our organization works to provide education, advocacy and resources to older people in Wisconsin," said Tom Frazier, executive director, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups. "The 2005 SBC Excelerator grant will help us improve our use of technology allowing us to more effectively respond to the needs of the whole community."
The 2005 SBC Excelerator grants provide nonprofit organizations with the necessary tools to better equip the communities they serve through:
Interactive, Web-based applications that support activities such as service delivery, volunteer recruiting and e-fundraising
Technology training programs for nonprofit staff members
High-speed access to the Internet and e-mail
Network connectivity enabling easy sharing of database applications and information systems
Overall in 2005, the SBC Foundation distributed more than $7 million in SBC Excelerator grants to community-based organizations. Earlier this year, the SBC Foundation announced two $500,000 national SBC Excelerator grants to the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation and to The OASIS Institute. The USHCC Foundation
received a $500,000 SBC Excelerator grant to support the creation of 20 Casa Cyber Community Technology Centers community-based small-business incubation centers operated in conjunction with local Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. The OASIS Institute
received $500,000 in SBC Excelerator funds to support a new project for mature adults who want or need to continue working in productive roles beyond the traditional retirement age. In 13 cities across the United States, adults will be able to update their technology skills for the workplace as well as to update their job-search skills in order to take advantage of the many employment resources available online and in the community.
The SBC Excelerator program is the largest special grants program ever undertaken by the SBC Foundation, one of the top corporate foundations in the nation, according to The Foundation Center. Since 1984, SBC Communications and the SBC Foundation have contributed more than $1 billion to nonprofit organizations across the country.