Tag: 17NTC

What are your barriers to implementing digital literacy programs at your organization? We addressed this question in the panel we presented at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference: “Same Issues, Different Contexts: Digital Literacy in Schools, Libraries and Housing.”

All four of us have worked across sectors in housing, schools, and libraries and found the same barriers to digital literacy throughout. We facilitated a discussion among attendees, who also came from varying backgrounds, and found some common themes.


Lack of knowledge of what digital inclusion is

There is an assumption that everyone has access to technology. This was brought up by attendees who referenced attending local government meetings where officials made comments implying that everyone should be able to access the internet. Other attendees focused on the need to educate community members; one person even created a tutorial on digital literacy education. Another suggested tying issues of digital inclusion to community priorities around workforce development.

Barriers in libraries

One panelist, Stacy Vincent, spoke about barriers from her personal experience as a librarian. Much of her job as a public librarian is spent putting out fires and doing behavior management, so setting aside time for training and addressing digital literacy falls to the bottom of the list. Other librarians from the audience mentioned that many librarians aren’t trained to help patrons with these issues.

Practical issues: child care and transportation

Another panelist, Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, teaches refugees how to use the computer. She told a story of how one student had to bring her child to class due to lack of childcare. The child sat under a desk while the student gave her toys to occupy her during the lesson. Childcare was an issue brought up by other panel-goers. Other practical and logistical issues such as transportation and lack of English skills to particulate fully in digital literacy trainings were cited as barriers to digital literacy programs and effectiveness.


A factor affecting all organizations was lack of funding. This large elephant in the room was pointed out by both panelists and attendees. Funding can be limited, very restricted, and not secure. One attendee who works in a nonprofit brought up that foundations do not understand what digital inclusion issues are. Others brought up barriers such as metrics to show success and how to share stories of digital inclusion.


Digital literacy is part of all our fights, and although there are barriers, there are also solutions. One solution that goes beyond context is communicating the importance of the work being done. The panelists asked attendees to draft a Tweetable elevator pitch talking about what they do.

Panelists suggested additional solutions, such as building relationships or creating mentoring programs like the Ready, Set, Connect! youth program in Oakland Public Library. Other solutions brought up by attendees were getting help for childcare from existing after-school programs, using volunteers for one-on-one tech assistance, and addressing digital skills training as part of staff professional development.

During the panel, it was reiterated that issues of digital literacy are issues across different organizations. One of the panelists, NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellow Jamie Littlefield spoke on the importance of digital literacy work: “If you fight for literacy, digital inclusion is part of your fight. If you fight against poverty, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.”



During the panel, Shauna Edson shared some of her favorite digital inclusion resources to help address barriers:

For more information about this panel and discussion, see the collaborative notes.


The nonprofit technology community recognizes these individuals and organizations, whose contributions demonstrate a passion and dedication to the role that nonprofit technology plays in making the world a better place.

The NTEN Award celebrates an individual who has helped advance NTEN’s mission to serve the community. This year, it was given to Emily Weinberg, full-text analyst at the American Psychological Association. Emily has been an NTEN member since 2006, a community organizer for three online groups, and contributed to two NTEN committees. She has twice been a speaker at Nonprofit Technology Conferences and is the fourth most active community member in our online groups! Emily is a tireless champion for NTEN and a fabulous asset for the nonprofit tech community.

The Rob Stuart Memorial Award honors the spirit of the man who was so pivotal in creating our community. Rob was a builder—of communities, of ideas, and of movements. Central to all of this work was the idea that technology can accelerate the pace of change, making it possible for movements to grow overnight and for change to be created in new and surprising ways. The recipient of this year’s Rob Stuart Memorial Award was nonprofit news organization Mother Jones. The team at MoJo believes that a free, independent Fourth Estate is vital to a vibrant democracy, and that its format as an investigative, national news outlet is the best way to call the powerful to account. Jamie Maloney and Brenden O’Hanlon received the award on the organization’s behalf at 17NTC.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to self-described “website whisperer” Yesenia Sotelo. The award recognizes community members who have been instrumental in shaping the field of nonprofit technology, and who have contributed a lifetime of service to the sector. With more than 16 years’ experience in web development, Yesenia could afford to rest on her laurels. Instead, she has dedicated herself to training the next generation of nonprofit technology workers, as a member of the NTEN faculty producing training for our courses, plus webinar presenter, NTC speaker, article contributor, and an organizer in our online groups. Altogether, we estimate she has spent nearly 200 hours training members of the NTEN community! Thank you, Yesenia!

Who should we recognize next? We accept nominations for our awards year-round and would love to hear from you about the community members who should be in the spotlight.


Jamie Littlefield is a Digital Inclusion Fellow and a speaker at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference.

In too many communities, digital inclusion is a challenge without local owners.

Unless your organization is specifically dedicated to digital inclusion or digital literacy, it can feel like a less tangible cause and perhaps a less important cause than, say, poverty or inequality.

When I was a high school English teacher, my colleagues were so worried about the need for our low-income school to perform well on standardized tests that many felt we didn’t have time to take students to the computer lab. Someone else would have to be responsible for that.

Later, when I was a college instructor, there was a lot of discussion about what the English department should be responsible for. Sure, we were committed to literacy. But, were we also the gatekeepers of academic literacy and digital literacy? It seemed like too much.

Now that I’m a Digital Inclusion Fellow with a nonprofit host, there still seem to be a lot of competing priorities. How can digital inclusion be important when we’re also dealing with homelessness, food insecurity, poverty, and families in crisis?

The answer: Digital inclusion is a part of every battle.

The shifting of information from the physical to the digital form makes it so. To fully participate in education, access community resources, and be a part of the democratic process, people must have access to the internet, working devices, and technical skills.

If you fight for literacy, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight against poverty, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight for equality, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight for resilient neighborhoods, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight against homelessness, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight for women’s rights, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

If you fight for refugees, digital inclusion is a part of your fight.

Perhaps, like me, you work for an organization that isn’t focused on digital inclusion alone. If so, there are a few ways you can weave it into the work you’re already doing.

Map out how information is reaching your clients.

Look at the information you’re providing online. Review your website, your social media accounts, and any smartphone apps.

Is there information that can’t be acquired unless a client has access to a computer and knows how to use it? If so, consider providing paper copies of important information and showing clients where they can go to get internet access and one-on-one help if they need it.

At the United Way of Utah County, we developed a tri-fold brochure to give to clients participating in targeted programs. The brochures, available in both English and Spanish, give simple explanations for how readers can access our Library Computer Help Lab or enroll in our Adopt-a-Computer-Program. They also explain where readers can use public computers, get free access to the internet, and find discounted home connections.

Even if your organization isn’t providing the tech help itself, can you find or create a guide for clients who need this information?

Look for opportunities to transform competing priorities into complementary priorities

Some of the most successful digital inclusion projects at the United Way of Utah County have been carefully tied into existing, well-known programs.

For example, at Sub-for-Santa application events we set up tables with Chromebooks, brochures, computer class sign-up sheets, and consultants who spoke both English and Spanish.

Through multiple night and weekend events, we provided personalized tech consultations about devices, internet access, and programs to 735 families. We were able to turn an existing program into an asset (rather than a competitor) and target the families most in need of our services.

Train staff to see digital inclusion as a part of their toolkit of solutions

Digital inclusion isn’t a problem competing with poverty. It’s a part of a holistic solution to poverty. And, a part of the solution to many other programs.

As a Digital Inclusion Fellow, I’ve made an effort to work with staff and send out success stories that show how digital inclusion can impact other areas of focus (even when those stories sound a little braggy).

In one email, I shared the story of Thomas. This Adopt-a-Computer participant showed up to the Computer Help Lab for ten hours of training. Working with our mentors, he learned job search essentials and applied to half a dozen positions online. The day he got to take home his refurbished computer was the same day he got a call offering him much-needed employment. We celebrated with high-fives.

With his permission, I told his story to other stakeholders in my community. Yes, this is a story about digital inclusion. But, it’s also a story about poverty, education, job skills, and many other causes that organizations in my community are working to address.

Our collective responsibility

By nature, digital inclusion is an issue that cannot be addressed by digital inclusion organizations alone. No matter what our cause or focus, when we find ways to weave inclusion into our work, we increase our ability to do the greatest good.


Client names have been changed.

Some of us are new to the NTC or new to Twitter and other social media and, for some of us, the 17NTC is our first conference experience all together. Our nonprofit tech community likes to use social media a lot during the NTC—tweeting, posting, liking, and re-sharing like whoa.

Here are some lessons learned and helpful tips for using social media to make the most of your conference experience, some drawn from our community discussions.

  • Use the correct hashtag: #17NTC. It’s easy to switch numbers and letters around, but then you’ll be getting updates about things like the National Theatre Conference. Which could be fun, but not what you’re looking for.

  • Each session has its own hashtag, like #17NTCcookiemonster or #17NTCmoveoffline. Most attendees use the session hashtag as well as the conference hashtag to be part of the bigger conversation. Find it in the session description.

  • If you reply to someone and their Twitter handle is first in the message, it won’t appear on your own timeline. If you want it to appear on your timeline, put a period in front of the handle or move the handle to the end of the message.

  • You can put the conference hashtag in your Twitter name when on site. It’s helpful for the readers at home who’re wondering where all the amazing activities are happening.

  • Remember that your account has to be set to public for everyone to see your posts in the #17NTC hashtag (this applies to all platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.).
  • Try not to check Twitter before bedtime. There’s a whirlwind of activity in the #17NTC hashtag, and as Cindy Leonard points out, it’s easy to get sucked in and stay up way too late.
  • Did you download the app? You can connect your social media accounts so you can simultaneously post to both the app’s Activity Feed and to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.

And it’s not just Twitter: We’re on Facebook and Instagram, too, and will be posting our own pics and reposting attendees’ pics. We look forward to seeing you there and sharing what you share!

Are you curious about NTEN’s new courses but haven’t had a chance to try one out yet? Are you attending 17NTC and already working towards your Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate? Are you looking to extend your experience beyond the in-person event?

This year we are offering something new. We are making two of our weeklong courses available as a crossover event with the 17NTC. Rather than the usual 90-minute live, online session participants will be able to attend a 90-minute session at the conference.

You can learn more here about our courses and what the week-long training experience normally looks like.

Courses Available

Intro to Google Analytics
Advanced Social Media Practice

The live event portion of each will happen on Friday, March 24 at 1:30 pm at the conference.

Who Can Participate

  • Available to those who are already registered and will be attending 17NTC
  • Those interested in earning credits toward the Nonprofit Technology Professional Certificate
  • Those who can attend the related 17NTC session in person
  • Seats are limited to 20 seats for each course


The fee is included as part of your existing 17NTC registration. There will be no additional charge for participating in this unique opportunity.

How To Participate

**Registration for this course is now closed in order to allow to for the pre-work prior to the live session.**


If you have any additional questions feel free to reach out to us at training@nten.org.

Elizabeth Lindsey is a speaker at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference in March.

“There’s this great new digital literacy program. It’s available online.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this well-meaning suggestion. As the Executive Director of a digital literacy and IT training organization, I appreciate supporters and friends taking a real interest in our work. But this statement shows how far we need to go in understanding the depth and breadth of the digital divide, and how we can bridge it.

There are millions of people who have never touched a computer or a mouse, have never Googled, have never sent an email. They cannot register for your program online, see an ad for your nonprofit on Facebook, or access your new mobile app. And they can’t necessarily improve their digital literacy on a computer because they might not know how to turn the computer on.

Technology can be a great tool for nonprofit practitioners, but tech can also create a barrier to reaching the communities we care most about. Programs must be accessible to low-tech and no-tech populations, groups that are still widespread both in rural and urban areas.

There are thousands in Washington, DC alone who fall into this category. As Byte Back starts our 20th year providing tech training to underserved residents in the District, we have not yet exhausted the number of people who need digital literacy training.

Having access to technology, to a digital skillset, and to broadband is a privilege. Those being left behind by an ever-growing digital divide can’t also be left behind by us.

Luckily, there are three steps your team can take to include no-tech and low-tech communities in your programs.

1. Ask, ‘Who’s Missing?’

The first rule in diversity and inclusion is to ask yourself, “Who’s missing?” Then come more questions: Why are they missing? Are you effectively targeting and including everyone who needs your services? Is the technology you’re using creating a barrier to anyone?

Answering these questions requires honest evaluation of your work, taking a step back, asking outsiders, and consulting those people on the other side of the digital divide for their perspectives.

The latest study from Pew Research Center shows 13 percent of Americans don’t use the internet. Are those people being reached and served by your organization?

2. Test Your Program with Low-Tech People, Then Think Radically

Now that you’ve identified who is missing and you’ve reached out to them, you need to put your product or services in their hands and see what happens. Do some testing. Look for any gaps in their ability to use technology. You may need to revise your program to address these gaps.

It is impossible for a person who is digitally skilled to be able to identify all the potential barriers to no-tech or low-tech users. Many of us take for granted our own fluency with devices and software, so these gaps must really be identified with the input of the population who needs to be included.

If you’ve created a program to be used with the latest device and operating system, how does this program work on older or slower devices or with a slow internet connection? Test it yourself and also let your potential audience test it for you.

If it doesn’t work for them, think creatively and maybe radically about changes.

You can consider offering training or partnering to make your services more inclusive, as we’ll explore in the third step. Or maybe the gap is deeper and including these populations requires replacing digital with paper, or using it as a supplemental option.

3. Incorporate Digital Literacy Training or Partner for Tech Inclusion

If you find your programs aren’t fully inclusive of low-tech or no-tech populations, it’s time to take action. This could start with some easy-to-incorporate solutions, such as including a printed tutorial on how to use your app, short workshops for your clients, or drop-in sessions where volunteers walk clients through digital use.

You might also need to try different forms of outreach. Partnering with other nonprofits or government agencies in your community can help you bring your services to more people.

Byte Back partners with the DC Office of the Chief Technology Officer to use an innovative Mobile Tech Lab to physically bring digital literacy training closer to the people who need it most, to neighborhoods in Northeast and Southeast DC.

We host AmeriCorps volunteers and recruit community volunteers who teach digital literacy courses, making the program affordable to run and increasing the capacity for reach.

If you don’t have the capacity or technology training doesn’t fit into your mission, look for other solutions.

There is probably a local organization, a government program, or a community library you can partner with. In Washington, DC, Byte Back partners with dozens of nonprofits and government agencies every year for referrals and site hosting. OATS (Older Adults Technology Services), based in Brooklyn, does the same.

You can find digital literacy training programs near you on this great list from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.

You can also work to direct your clients to affordable access to technology and devices. Byte Back works with Comcast to refer students to affordable internet access, and we partner with Project Reboot, a local nonprofit that provides affordable refurbished computers.

Other organizations can do the same, building a network to direct clients to training, access, and devices that will help them across the digital divide.

It’s official: The 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference, March 23 to 25 in Washington, DC, is sold out! We are SO excited to gather with over 2200 of you—the nonprofit tech superstars—in just a few weeks, to learn, connect, laugh, and maybe even make Amy cry (in the good way).

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Didn’t get registered? Well, we do have a wait list you can add yourself to. No guarantees, but it’s worth a shot.

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If you don’t make it off the wait list, there’s still another way you can attend part of the conference: We’re selling passes to the Exhibit Hall, open to the public from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 24. For just $25, you can check out the latest technology and cool tools for nonprofits, make some awesome new connections, view presentations on the demo stage, and get a professional profile photo taken.

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The 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference is just around the corner and we’re getting more and more excited (and more and more ridiculous, if you go by our Instagram posts).

Today, we’re launching the 17NTC app, generously sponsored by Community IT Innovators, so you can start planning your conference experience and connect with other attendees.

The 17NTC app lets you:

  • View session and speaker information
  • Add sessions to create your own personal agenda
  • Check out exhibitors ahead of time
  • Connect with other attendees through the activity feed or direct messages
  • Get real-time alerts during the conference

Read on for some tips and frequently asked questions to help you get the most out of the app.

Where can I find the app?

You can find the iOS or Android app or access the HTML5 version here. Or, you can search for “17NTC” in the App Store or Google Play.

I have an older smartphone or don’t want to download the iOS or Android app. How can I participate?

Access the app content through your web browser via the HTML5 version. Note: When you get to the sign-in page for the first time, click the link to sign up instead. Create an account and then go to town!

What email and password do I use to log into the app?

You will create a brand new account to access the 17NTC app. It’s not connected to the 16NTC app or your NTEN account. Use whatever email address and password you wish.

How do I create my personalized agenda?

  • From the sidebar menu click Agenda.
  • Scroll through the list then click the calendar plus sign icon next to the sessions you want to remember.
  • View your agenda by clicking the My Agenda tab at the top of the Agenda screen.

Reminder: Adding a session to your agenda does not reserve your spot. NTC sessions do not take reservations. Arrive at the session rooms early to ensure a seat. Additionally, we recommend selecting a second or third session as a backup plan.

How do I share posts I make to the Activity Feed to my social media accounts as well?

You can simultaneously post to both the app’s Activity Feed and to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.

  • To share an update in both the app and in your social media accounts, first go to your profile and give the app permission to access these accounts.
  • Go to the Activity Feed, then click the pen-and-paper icon in the top right corner.
  • Choose a social network by toggling the Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn icon in the lower right corner.

Pro Tips:

  • Be sure to include the conference hashtag (#17NTC) on your posts if you want to share them via social media. The app does not do this automatically.
  • If you share a photo, it will display as a photo in the app but as a link in your social media posts.

There’s the conference app, the online conference forum, and social media. Which platform should I use during the conference?

Once we get on-site, we encourage attendees to use the app’s Activity Feed and the #17NTC Twitter hashtag for real-time conversations. The online forum tends to be the most active before and after the conference.

As always, please direct any customer service-related questions to info@nten.org or find an NTEN staff member (distinguishable by a staff lanyard). Our response team is 💯 but we don’t want to risk your question getting lost in the forum or app discussion feed.

I’m having trouble with the app. Where should I go for help?

For questions on how to use the app, we recommend the app’s attendee support center. You can also check out our FAQs for help with the app and everything else conference-related. If you need additional help, please contact us via info@nten.org or come to the NTC tech help desk (open during registration hours) when you’re on-site.

Thanks again to Community IT Innovators for sponsoring the app!


The 17NTC is right around the corner! It’s time to start preparing. We put together some tips for first-timers, many of which come from a 17NTC forum post started by “longtime listener, first-time attendee” Mark Root-Wiley.

The NTEN community comes from numerous sub-sectors, cultures, and countries. Let’s make sure we all have a common understanding of how to maintain a safe and welcoming space for all 17NTC attendees. Make sure to review NTEN’s code of conduct before arriving on-site.

Judy Freed wants to save us all from overwhelm and encourages attendees to plan in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to read through the agenda and session descriptions.

screenshot of the 16NTC mobile appWe’ll add: Download the conference app after it’s released in the beginning of March. Use it to create your personalized 17NTC agenda. We’ll let you know via email and social media when it’s released, so keep your eyes peeled!

Emily Weinberg recommends that attendees arrive at the session rooms early to ensure a seat. Additionally, she smartly recommends selecting a second or third session as a backup plan. This is especially good advice given that we’re going to sell out registration this year, so we’ll be at capacity.

We’ll add another tip: Don’t be afraid to leave a session if it’s not for you. We encourage everyone to practice the law of mobility. If you’re not getting value from a session, please feel free to head to the next session on your backup list. Attending the NTC is an investment in you. Do what you need to make the most of it.

Make use of the collaborative session notes. Stacy Clinton points out that they’re “useful for sessions you attend, and even more useful for sessions you had to miss. So, to echo advice of others, don’t feel bad that you can’t attend every session. Your fellow attendees have you covered. All of us do-gooders want each other to succeed!”

Related: The official hashtag is #17NTC. Contribute to our shared knowledge and chat with the NTEN community now, during the conference, and forever.

Don’t be shy, sit with people you don’t know. Longtime NTC-goer Peter Campbell wants to reassure newbies that “the crowd at NTC is warm, welcoming, and mission-driven, as opposed to ego-driven. We’re all about meeting people and sharing our knowledge and resources.” Bonus: For those who, like me, need a little extra help sometimes, the 17NTC community sourced some excellent conversation starters.

people talking and laughing in the hallways at 16NTCCindy Leonard suggests that attendees take advantage of the “hallway” track. Give yourself permission to skip a session and spend time chatting with new and old friends and reflecting on the content.

Greg Lee encourages everyone to check out the lunchtime Birds of a Feather groups and self-organized community events.

Spend time in the exhibit hall. Nathan Gasser says, “I used to cruise the exhibits and only approach booths where I really wanted to know something about the company or had a really specific need–which meant I passed most of them by. Now I basically go door-to-door and usually start with ‘Hi! Tell me about [Vendor Name]’ and just let them introduce their company. Great way to learn about stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know.”

We’re a business casual and t-shirt bunch. Skip your suit and heels, but do pack warm layers in case of a chilly breakout session room. Additionally, help those of us with allergies breathe easier and leave perfumes and other scented items at home.

Bring plenty of business cards (and do yourself a favor and schedule time post-conference for sending follow-ups).

Does your organization have stickers? Bring a handful of stickers for our sticker swap table.

Bring a portable device charger if you have one, but know that outlets and charging stations will abound.

Think about packing extras like running gear, walking shoes, knitting, or board games—there is so much to do in DC and so many new friends to do it with!

Pro-tip: Let NTEN staff know what you need. We want the NTC to be the most inclusive and welcoming it can be. We’ve made sure to have gender neutral restrooms, a private room for nursing mothers, space for Friends of Bill W. gatherings, prayer room, accessible session rooms, pronoun ribbons, ASL and CART service, and meals to accommodate dietary restrictions. Let us know if there’s something else we can do to help you feel safe, welcome, and at home at the NTC and in the NTEN family.

We can’t wait to see you in March! Get ready to meet and make long-lasting relationships with the fabulous, warm, and welcoming NTEN community. As Peter put it, the “NTC is just the peak week of a year-long gathering.”

It’s awards season, which means this is your chance to celebrate your own wins and the amazing work of other nonprofit technology professionals.

The Care2 Impact Award recognizes a campaign or initiative in the nonprofit sector that has made an outstanding impact on the field of online advocacy, online fundraising, or both. The winning organization will receive a cash donation of $1,000 from Care2. The runners up will each receive the Care2 Innovation Award; Care2 will make a $200 donation to each of these organizations. The awards will be presented in March at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Entries close midnight EST on Saturday, February 11. Enter now.

Entries are also open for the DoGooder Video Awards, which celebrates videos that have the power to move people and transform lives. NTEN is proud to partner on this award, and will show the winning videos from last year’s award at the NTC in March. They’re designed to help honor the best work from people or organizations who are using the medium to move the needle for their cause. Entries close Monday, February 13. Find out more.