Techmobile: A collaborative effort brings technology to Seattle’s youth and underserved communities

Redmond, WA, May 15, 2000 — Boys & Girls Clubs of King County calls it a “community computer access solution for the new millennium.” Kids in the Seattle area will soon know it as the Techmobile. This is a mobile laboratory that will depart in about two weeks to provide computer access to her children, ages 6 to 18, who live in communities in King County that are underserved by technology.

TechMobile will be visiting underserved communities throughout King County.

The project is a collaboration between Microsoft and other technology companies, the City of Seattle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“We partnered with Microsoft to create this exciting program to address the digital divide between communities with and without access to technology,” said Ray, Director of TechMobile at Boys & Girls Clubs. Stacey says. .

Microsoft donated $70,000 in cash and additional software grants to help equip the Techmobile. Microsoft’s donation is part of a $1.6 million major corporate grant to establish technology centers in 15 clubs across the country.

The Techmobile stops in public housing developments, community centers, schools, and rural areas where youth technology programs do not exist. Twelve young people can participate for free at a time.

Techmobile offers comprehensive classes in the fundamentals of Microsoft Office 2000, Encarta 2000, the World Wide Web, and various multimedia technologies. This class provides training in job readiness skills, basic math and spelling skills, homework assistance, and desktop publishing. Examples of learning projects include personal and club website development and various online research projects.

TechMobile’s goal is to “introduce technology to young people in a stimulating environment,” Stacey said. Especially children from low-income and minority communities and those with limited English proficiency.

Built on a 30-foot camper chassis, the state-of-the-art technology center includes a Gateway server running Windows NT, eight Gateway computer workstations, four Gateway laptops with wireless connectivity, two Sony digital cameras, Hewlett Packard laser printers, and ViewSonic projectors. Microsoft software donated for this vehicle includes Office 2000, Encarta Reference Suite 2000, Encarta Africana 2000, Bookshelf 2000, and various educational games.

Techmobile also features a DirectPC dish antenna that allows the vehicle to provide Internet connectivity without physically connecting to a phone line. Outgoing requests for web pages go through an AT&T Wireless Cellular digital packet modem, which transmits data requests at 19.2 kilobits per second (kbps).

The web page is then delivered via satellite link at up to 400 kbps. This is approximately four times faster than an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) connection. As a result, young users will no longer be frustrated by long delays while downloading pages.

Vehicles will stop at scheduled time blocks of 30 to 90 minutes. On request, during the mornings during fall, winter, and spring, we are available to visit adults in our English as a Second Language program and those beginning to work outside the home.

On select weekends, the Techmobile is placed at community centers, trade shows, and special events, where the vehicle is used to introduce users to the power of the Internet and other computing technologies, and to facilitate additional club education programs. .

The Boys & Girls Club of King County, which has been at the forefront of youth development programs since 1942, will oversee management of the Techmobile. Today, King County clubs serve more than 17,000 children annually, making us the largest Boys & Girls club organization in the nation. As the Techmobile Project Director, Rae Stacy will be responsible for developing and implementing the curriculum, recruiting participants, and scheduling service locations. She also plans to drive a Techmobile.

“TechMobile empowers Seattle’s youth to reach into their futures beyond the walls of clubhouses and buildings,” Stacey said.

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