Demonstrate a Technologist’s Spirit of Generosity on Martin Luther King Day

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During my relatively brief tenure in Washington, I have had the privilege of working with technology professionals who share a sense of purpose that often extends beyond corporate walls and into their local communities. This year, the Administration wants to tap into that spirit of generosity by collaborating with the Corporation for National and Community Service during the MLK Day of Service to launch the MLK Technology Challenge (on Twitter: #MLKTech). Our goal is to connect technologically thirsty schools and non-profits with IT and web professionals, developers, graphic designers, and new-media professionals who are willing to volunteer their skills for the common good.

As the nation’s Chief Technology Officer, I am posting this blog to encourage technology professionals to participate. Now is the time to take the MLK Tech Challenge and invest your talents in service to a local school or non-profit facing a technology hurdle.

Find a technology need in your community. If you don’t see a service project in your area, this is a great opportunity to reach out and ask the leaders at your neighborhood school if they need some tech or online assistance. Thousands of schools and other organizations need your skills to train students to write HTML or update a Web site. As inspiration, I’ve shared a partial list of ideas that are surfacing from schools and non-profits in just the past few days:

  • Refurbish computers for schools
  • Teach students how to use popular software or online services
  • Build a database for a non-profit
  • Help out in your school’s computer lab
  • Become an online mentor for students across the country

Some of these projects can be completed on MLK Day -- others might take longer. That’s perfectly ok; the heart and soul of this initiative is to start a dialogue around collaboration. Let’s use the MLK Day of Service as an opportunity to kick off this conversation with schools and non-profits to let them know you want to help.

Your work can have a huge impact on kids and others in need across the country. Take the MLK Tech Challenge and make a difference in your community on MLK Day and throughout the year. Service is a solution, and together we can help overcome a technology hurdle for an organization built to serve others. Make MLK Day a day online, not a day offline.

Getting involved is easy – to register your tech need or to find a volunteer opportunity in your community, visit http://www.serve.gov/MLKTech.

A final word of thanks: Many in the tech community, personally and professionally, have graciously lent a hand to those struggling from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, from waiving text messaging fees to providing much needed tech equipment. We greatly appreciate your support.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer. This blog was originally posted on the White House blog.  

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