Case Study: National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA)
In 2010, because of our substantial experience and success as a funder of community technology initiatives, we were granted more than $2 million, over three years, from the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP).
The award was for the administration and implementation of ‘Generation ZD’, a program designed to support organizations striving to improve broadband access for youth with limited or no access to digital and information technology in the home. In order to do this, we are working systemically to build the tech capacity and financial sustainability of seven organizations: Access Humboldt, CA; Akaku: Maui Community Television, HI; Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe, NM; Community Media Access Partnership (CMAP), CA; Portland Community Media, OR; Reel Grrls, WA; and Spy Hop Productions, UT. These organizations provide digital literacy skills, and content production and distribution training for youth on topics such as video, graphic design, animation, games, audio, etc.
In addition to dispersing and administering BTOP pass-through funds for the ‘Generation ZD’ organizations, our focus has been on helping these organizations evolve as community service providers. To this end, we are providing in-depth training and support on topics identified by the organizations themselves as areas for growth: program design and evaluation, and financial sustainability. Through their participation, these organizations become better able to use data collection tools and analysis to improve program planning and implementation, as well as their capacity to evaluate and report on program impact.
We are also working through our 360° model with each organization. Created as a business development process for our Community Enterprise grantees, the 360° model provides organizations with tools to diversify their income streams and develop earned income strategies, and better meet their mission, as a result.
Our services are provided via a monthly webinar series, in-person group workshops and individual coaching.
Narrowing the Divide
In the long term, BTOP funds are meant to improve access to education and boost economic development for communities held back by limited or no access to broadband – communities that would otherwise be left behind. Our BTOP program ends June 2013. As we begin to wind down the program, we are evaluating its impact on the participating organizations and the communities they serve. We are also exploring opportunities to continue working with these organizations.
Our careful administration, hands-on support, innovative training and 360° business development process have achieved tangible results and added value for our grantees. To date, successes include:
- Program staff members have consistently participated in training sessions since the inception.
- Program staff demonstrating increased confidence and capacities to engage in evaluation design processes for their programs and organizations.
- All seven organizations have completed new or refined existing logic models for their programs.
- As of Fall 2012, all seven organizations began to deploy improved program evaluation systems with their clients and constituents.