Bootup Baltimore utilizes technology for charitable cause

By Mo-Yu Zhou | March 14, 2012

Bootup Baltimore is a unique community service group on campus that intersects technology with charity. If you're interested in technology - even if you don't have much computer knowledge - and in reaching out to the Baltimore community, you may be interested in Bootup Baltimore.
The News-Letter sat down with Bootup Baltimore's Secretary and Publicity Manager, Daniel Levenson, who talked to us about how the group works. In a nutshell, Bootup Baltimore is a computer community service organization that provides substantive technology-related aid to those in need in the form of computers and the teaching of computer skills. It has two main divisions. The first is refurbishment; computers are donated to the group, which either breaks them down for parts or refurbishes them to make them ready for re-donation to other charitable organizations, churches and schools.
Many of these schools are ones that the group coordinates with to conduct teaching sessions, which comprise the second main operation of Bootup Baltimore. Elementary school students are trained in computer skills, such as word processing, image editing, basic programming, hardware maintenance and web development. As Levenson puts it, these are "very applicable skills that students in public schools aren't necessarily taught," adding, "It's a really interesting program, really fun."
Levenson emphasizes that computer knowledge is not necessary for active participation in the group: "If you think you're very computer-unsavvy, it's totally not an issue." While the group seeks members of all skill levels, he points out that "you just need to have an interest. We've definitely had people come who haven't had computer experience, and they've loved it." The group trains and briefs its teachers on what is to be taught, and there is a refurbishment coordinator who is always at refurbishing sessions to show everyone how the process works.
"It's pretty algorithmic to a certain level, so it's definitely not too challenging, but it's pretty cool," says Levenson. But, as he points out, "it's a great opportunity to crack open computers - we've got tons."
For teachers, this opportunity to help and nurture computer skills in elementary school students is a very engaging one. As Levenson points out, "It's not like you're at the outskirts of the process by helping teaching. You're really teaching." Thus, while it is easy to get involved in Bootup Baltimore's programs, the impact of the group's activities is formidable.
Levenson also stresses the importance of what Bootup Baltimore does: "There's definitely very much a need for our services. There will always be more public school students that could use our aid, absolutely. There are tons of organizations that are reaching out to us." And, as extra incentive for elementary schools to participate, Bootup Baltimore has also been known to give them computers at the end of the program.
Moreover, members of Bootup Baltimore become part of a powerful and personal process. According to its mission statement, the organization aims to "both expand computer access in Baltimore and create opportunities for [their] participants to engage with technology in a personal way." The skills that Bootup Baltimore fosters, which are crucial in the modern world, are also provided in tandem with Bootup Baltimore's goal of promoting sustainability, as well as other valuable services.
If you are interested in being a part of Bootup Baltimore's efforts, check them out at bootupbaltimore.org, where you can join their mailing list and get in touch with their officers.

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