Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Introducing The TECH Project

"What," you might be wondering, "does Capital Good Fund, an organization that provides financial services for the poor, have to do with education?"  Well, we're glad you asked! The TECH (Technology, Education & Community for Holistic-schools) Project brings together parents, teachers, students, and other stakeholders to foster vibrant school communities with the dual intention of increasing educational outcomes and lowering rates of poverty.
Under the program, Broadband Rhode Island (BBRI), an initiative of the RhodeIsland Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), and Capital Good Fund (CGF), are offering a comprehensive suite of free and low-cost products and services to three Rhode Island schools: Pleasant View Elementary School, Times Squared Academy, and Highlander Charter.  Working closely with each school’s leadership team, the TECH Project Pilot will provide families with:

1.     Free digital literacy training for parents, with an emphasis on how to utilize the Internet to save money, seek employment, communicate with friends and family, and increase access to educational resources that will help their children learn (such as Khan Academy and iTunes U).
2.     Low-cost, one-on-one financial coaching, which will help families learn to budget, build their credit, manage their debt, and save for their future.
3.     The option to access affordable loans, starting at $12/month, for the purchase of a laptop computer and/or Internet service.

The TECH Project aims to deeply integrate the aforementioned products and services into the participant school’s plans for improving educational outcomes. To achieve this, each school is asked to develop a plan for connecting teachers and parents via web-based platforms; provide a space at the school for parents to use their new computers for both Digital Literacy Training and one-on-one Financial Coaching; and commit to working closely with community partners, CGF & BBRI, to ensure maximum impact and success.

            We have already hosted our first orientation for parents at Pleasant View; there were around 200 people in the building and over 35 people have expressed an interest in and/or signed up for our services.

      TECH Successes to date:
1.     We helped Dr. Gara B. Field, Principal of Pleasant View Elementary, secure a $20,000 grant to purchase an install 25 laptops with 4G access and a 4 camera security system
2.     We received seven (7) summer VISTAs (at no cost to us) that will run a summer program for 70 kids at Pleasant View—the first time they will ever have a summer program!
3.     We received three (3) Teach For America Corps Members (again at no cost to us) that will help with the summer program
4.     We have gotten commitments from Highlander and Times Squared Academy—both of which are charter schools in providence—to partner with us on the program, and by mid-May we will have launched at those schools.

Impact and Vision
We believe the TECH Model has the potential to revolutionize education through technology, parent engagement and wrap-around services for parents and kids. Our hypothesis is that, given the strong correlation between income levels and educational attainment, if we can help a family stabilize and move out of poverty through financial coaching, then we should see a concomitant increase in the academic performance of the children.  Our goal is to use a data-driven approach to prove our hypothesis and then scale our unique approach to schools throughout Rhode Island, New England and, eventually, all of America.  More on this in the weeks and months to come!