Technology

On Saturday, May 21, 14 students and over 30 volunteers gathered for the Lumity 1-Day Innovation Challenge. The event was held at the offices of event sponsor Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), a division of BlueCross BlueShield Illinois. The event's purpose was to demonstrate how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are applied in career settings. Participating students attend Chicago Vocational Career Academy or Corliss High School and are enrolled in STEM-related learning programs.

[caption id="attachment_720" align="alignleft" width="300"] A CVCA student experiments with an Oculus virtual reality headset.[/caption] Lumity, a Chicago nonprofit organization focused on career readiness, aims to help its corporate partners give back to the community. One of their partners, Accenture, hosted a Career Site Visit for students...

Student Web Creators to Unveil Websites Created for Local Businesses On Saturday, June 4, Chicago-based Lumity presents the inaugural “2016 SBE Competition,” an event that is a culmination of the efforts of local business partners and some newly tech-savvy teenage entrepreneurs, which reveals the valuable impact of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training with some fascinating results.

By Etelka Lehoczky At first it may seem like an ordinary April day at Waukegan’s Greenbelt Cultural Center, just outside of Chicago, but in the big ballroom the air is humming. At tables all around the room, small groups of teenagers are hard at work – murmuring, laughing and capturing ideas on laptops.” [caption id="attachment_695" align="alignright" width="300"]Forsythe staff team up with Waukegan High School students to build business case for a mock smartphone app. Forsythe staff team up with Waukegan High School students to build business case for a mock smartphone app.[/caption] The teens have been brought together thanks to a complex partnership – and some creative thinking – by three innovative Chicago organizations. The kids attend Waukegan High School, a culturally diverse institution with more than 4,000 students. They’re being aided by employees of Forsythe Technology, Inc., a privately held, employee-owned company based in Skokie, Ill. Then there’s the fulcrum: Chicago-area nonprofit Lumity, which organized the event as part of its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Career Readiness Program. After 32 years in operation, Lumity is shifting its mission to focus on providing transformational experiences for at-risk youth that prepare them for lifelong STEM careers. The exercise today is to conceive and create a business case for a mock smartphone app. As the teens work through their designs they must think creatively, assess one another’s ideas and hone their presentation skills. And they’re clearly having a great time doing it.

Bluetooth beacon technology has started to grow in large businesses and stores. Beacon tech is a small sensor device, one that senses when you (or your phone) is within a certain range. Then it sends a signal to communicate with you in real-time about products, offers, etc. Beacons are used for targeted marketing and sales, such as:
  • User analytics
  • Indoor navigation
  • Contactless payments
  • Proximity marketing
This is great! But now you're asking, "how can nonprofit organizations, which do not usually have a physical shop or products to sell, benefit from beacon technology?" I see two main uses for beacons, depending on the type of nonprofit organization: events and fundraising through geo-targeting. There are (at least) six uses for beacons during nonprofit events, seminars, workshops and conferences.

It may be hard to believe Lumity found a group of 30 high school students who are willing to trade their free Saturdays for the next 12 weeks. They are taking advantage of an opportunity to gain career skills, improve their communities and compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships. On Saturday, March 14, Lumity launched its STEM Saturdays program. Sponsored by Accenture and supported by volunteers from Allstate, Accenture and GE Capital, this program runs for 12 weeks on Saturdays, from 10am to 2pm. Students from local schools are teaming up to select a nonprofit or small business in their community that could use their help. Over the course of the 12 weeks, teams will assess the organization’s web presence, make a plan for improvement and implement that plan.

A CRM is a client/ customer relationship management tool. It is a database system for tracking constituents, donors, members, volunteers and more.

How do you select the right one for your nonprofit organization?

1. Decide why you need a CRM – Are you planning to use it as a platform for all stakeholder data management or for a single segment, like donors? Have all stakeholders (not just leadership) been involved in the process? Write down your goals for selecting a CRM. Establish the current state and the desired state of your needs. Remember to keep in mind your overall strategic plan. Don’t get stuck with what you need right now. Think about what the CRM will need to do and look like in the future. Establish the team needed for the project. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate in this process. Also, is your staff capable of setting up and customizing a CRM or will you need external help?