Tech Rising, an initiative founded by AvidXchange, was created with the goal of helping to eliminate the digital divide and foster digital inclusion here in Charlotte. The initiative launched last summer and AvidXChange hosted their first Tech Rising Virtual Summit in partnership with SHARE Charlotte on February 25, 2021.
The Virtual Summit brought together local government officials, public school representatives, business leaders, nonprofits, and members of the community all of whom play a key part in bridging the digital divide in our community.
In an effort to help seed innovative ideas from nonprofit organizations that are helping to eliminate the digital divide and foster digital inclusion and equity, the “Tech Idea Incubator” Fund was created as part of the Tech Rising initiative.
Tech Idea Incubator grants were between $3-5K gifts and were used to seed creative and innovative ideas that could eventually become larger initiatives in the future. The fund was open to applications from any nonprofit that attended the Tech Rising Virtual Summit, serving Mecklenburg County, and supporting youth in Title 1 schools.
Funding corporate partners include Google Fiber, Truist, Allstate, Lowe’s, Duke Energy, Bank of America, and Better.com.
Below is an overview of the six grantees who received Tech Idea Incubator funding and their results
Overview of the grantees:
A Better World: A nonprofit focused on supporting under-served youth in West Charlotte.
- Tech Idea: Create a virtual after-school program that provides homework help, academic enrichment, group therapy, and one-on-one reading buddies.
- Results: They were able to purchase Chromebooks and licenses to support reaching 60 students through their Virtual Reading Buddy Program and their students' reading grade levels have increased.
- Tech Idea: They worked together to create pop-up classes in Title 1 schools that helped students utilize technology to be producers and creators.
- Results: They worked with Freedom Communities to provide a series of workshops to expose 50 students to STEM careers and gave the students the opportunity to code, program, and improve their digital proficiency. They also were able to partner with other creative professionals for curriculum production and facilitation and will continue to provide this collaborative experience to students moving forward.
Blacks in Technology (Charlotte Chapter): Their mission is to increase digital literacy and technology education opportunities for Black youth and families in Charlotte.
- Tech Idea: They partnered with YouCanTech, an educational program that helps kids ages 7-12 get excited about STEM. It is a fully packaged Lego Robotics program: the robot kits, curriculum of activities in story form for kids, and support from experienced coaches.
- Results: Through this grant, they were able to extend their reach from 10 to 100 black youth this summer including students at Northridge Middle School. Click here for a short video about the impact of this program on the Northridge middle schoolers.
Charlotte Bilingual Preschool: Their goal is to prepare Spanish-speaking children for success in school and life by providing dual-language early childhood education.
- Tech Idea: Due to the pandemic, Hispanic students experienced a disproportionate amount of learning loss due to school closures. In response, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool launched the Reading Bridge which helps families support their children’s literacy at home. However, technology access and digital literacy remain barriers for their families to implement this program so through this grant they provided Family Engagement Specialists. These specialists will help families gain access to technology, empower them with digital literacy skills and teach them how to use the online resources to help close literacy gaps for their children.
- Results: 10 families received a computer, printer, and digital skills through a Family Engagement Specialist who provided weekly digital literacy workshops. They were also able to partner with Digi-Bridge to provide the second semester of their Tech Rising Digital Literacy program to an additional 10 families.
First Gen Success: Their mission is to bridge the generational gap and lessen the constant economic disparities for high school girls who are on the path to be first-generation college students.
- Tech Idea: They created Mentoring Central which is a web-based mentor training program that offers three core courses to help their mentees. The programs are designed to improve outcomes and achieve excellence with the ease of using online, state-of-the-art mentoring.
- Results: They were able to provide mentoring to 8 high school girls through this evidence web-based training which enabled them to streamline their program infrastructure and address the needs of the scholars. This new program will also make it easier to manage and measure their program while creating more productive mentorship experiences for their participants.
She Built This City: They empower women and nonbinary individuals of ALL ages in the construction and trade industry through elementary camps, Builder Girls middle school clubs, Women@Work Trade Circle mentoring, and advanced training.
- Tech Idea: They used a 3D printing curriculum focusing on 3D printing options to make homes accessible for Seniors to increase the ability to age in place as well as support the dwindling supply of naturally occurring affordable homes. Their goal is to teach young girls 3D print and create with software, and use innovation to solve problems.
- Results: They were able to purchase eleven 3D printers and create a custom curriculum to teach the future of construction through the use of 3D printing to up to 80 students who are part of the Level Up program at three branches of the YMCA. Once the training is complete they will donate the 3D Printer to each of the locations, giving access to software on laptops at the facilities and opening the door for continued programming and access related to 3D printing.
If you would like to learn more about Tech Rising, please contact Rob Phocas the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at AvidXchange.