Spring 2015 Brings New Opportunities
MAY 1, 2015
Tags: Kansas City
Michael Liimatta is now Our Full-time CEO
Michael Liimatta, cofounder of Connecting for Good, began serving full-time as CEO on May 1. Since 2011, he has served in a volunteer capacity as board president. He was, until recently, Chief Academic Officer for City Vision University, an accredited online institution of higher learning he started in 1998. Michael has over thirty years of experience in nonprofit management and academic leadership. In this new role, he will be devoting his efforts toward transforming lives through accessible technology for low income families, recent immigrants, seniors and the disabled. Learn more about Michael Liimatta.
Conectando para Bien
During our March board retreat, we made a decision to more fully pursue a strategy to bring our services to the Hispanic community. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of Hispanics who do not own a computer are foreign born. Along with the language barrier, many recent immigrants also fall into the lower income demographic. We know we can make a significant impact on these families by providing them with inexpensive refurbished PCs, affordable connectivity and basic computer and Internet classes in Spanish. Our starting point is to work with a steering committee of Kansas City area Latino leaders to develop a plan to move forward with this effort. We are also actively seeking partner organizations and bi-lingual volunteers to join with us.
Wi-Fi Project with Kansas City Missouri Housing Authority
Pemberton Park is a very unique facility operated by the Housing Authority of Kansas City Missouri. To live in one of the thirty-three units, residents must be grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren. Usually, children end up with their grandparents because of traumatic circumstances. This can be the result of a parent’s death or incarceration. Parents may also be deemed by the courts as unable to care for their children because of drug addiction, abuse or other life issues. Over 70 children under the age of eighteen live at Pemberton Park and few have access to the Internet. The facility has a computer lab that is sorely out-of-date. In the coming weeks, we will begin a fund raising campaign that will bring free Wi-Fi to both of the buildings at Pemberton Park. We also plan to place computers in every apartment and to upgrade the PC lab and use it to teach the grandparents how to make the best use of the connectivity we will bring there.
NE Wyandotte Co. Community Technology Center Expansion
Because of a significant increase in use, we recently expanded our public access computer lab in Kansas City, Kansas to twenty-five PCs. It is the world’s first community computer lab powered by Google Fiber’s super fast gigabit small business service. In the year that the center has been open, it has been used by over 1,000 adults in the NE Wyandotte County community. It is located in one of the most distressed neighborhoods in the entire state and is across the street from the large Juniper Gardens housing project. Every day after the school buses drop off their students, the lab has been filled with children ages 8 to 16 years old. We are planning some special tech-oriented programs for them this summer. Volunteers are needed for this effort.
Our Awesome Tech Team
We could not accomplish all that we do without a team of solid, experienced IT professionals on our staff. All three have formal training in computer repair and networking. Rick Deane, COO and cofounder, has over twenty years of IT experience and ran his own company, NPO Tech Support. before starting Connecting for Good. Along with a bachelors degree in business, Karita Matlock, our production manager, studied Computer Information Systems at Johnson County Community College. Chris Wiley is a PC technician who joined our staff in January. He was formerly trained in computer repair, data recovery, software installation, computer maintenance, networking, and more through the Kansas City Kansas Community College and the W. E. B. DuBois Learning Center. Besides our computer refurbishing operations and maintaining wireless networks at low income housing projects, our team also provides IT support to nonprofit organizations throughout the Kansas City area.