Empowering Learners

By on Dec 3, 2018 in Giving, People

The second annual Santa Barbara Gives! (SB Gives!) is now underway. This holiday fundraiser and competition is a fun way to unite local donors and nonprofits. When their efforts are combined, Santa Barbara thrives.

So, What’s This All About?

SB Gives! aims to motivate philanthropy by highlighting innovative nonprofits. Readers can explore the nonprofits’ missions on the SB Gives! website. Once inspired, readers are encouraged to donate to their nonprofit(s) of choice.

Of course, a little friendly competition keeps things interesting. SB Gives! features a leaderboard to show which nonprofit has raised the most funds to date. Donations are tracked in real time!

What’s the Skinny on EqualiTech?

Among the noteworthy nonprofits stands EqualiTech, the brain child of math teacher Danny Fitzgibbons. Through his studies and career, he learned of the disparity that occurs between children with early access to technology and those without. Learning gaps are evident as early as kindergarten. Fitzgibbons wanted to create a program that provided access to critical technologies regardless of socioeconomic status.

Today, EqualiTech makes technology accessible to residents of Goleta and nearby neighborhoods. The organization aims to improve computer literacy by providing public computer access at Goleta Valley Tech Center. The site is staffed by a bilingual manager and instructor who is available to answer questions and work one on one with patrons who need help.

At the center, students learn basic computer skills such as typing, navigating a computer, and creating and managing an email account. Students can also receive help with special projects like website design and resolving hardware issues.

Students’ time at EqualiTech is meant to be fun and practical. Naturally, students learn how to keep in touch with loved ones via social media. Of equal importance, they learn tips and tricks on how to stay safe while online.

During its first 18 months, 300 students visited EqualiTech. Most came several times for a total of more than 3,000 visits. The center continues to flourish.

Though Fitzgibbons created EqualiTech for children, the organization accepts learners of all ages. Many EqualiTech students are mature adults who did not grow up with daily computer access. This population includes first-generation immigrants as well as local Baby Boomers. It is common to see mature adults attend the center with their grandchildren in tow.

To address the growing demand, EqualiTech has received an Adult Education Block Grant through the state of California and Santa Barbara City College. Through the grant, EqualiTech will formalize its Adult Education offerings and launching an exciting new program, the Digital and Language Literacy Program in Goleta. The organization will expand to a bigger space with additional computers and a structured adult education curriculum. This unique program will bridge adults to the city college non-credit courses, which can then lead to credit courses, new job opportunities, and general life enrichment.

“We envision a world in which every person, regardless of socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to thrive in an increasingly digital society,” states the EqualiTech website.

SB Gives! Unites Yardi + EqualiTech

Special corporate donors may participate in donation-matching programs. Yardi is proudly paired with EqualiTech.

“Yardi has a fantastic reputation for its work with local nonprofits and as a technology company, located in the same neighborhood, it felt like a natural fit,” said Julie Nisbet, director of technology at EqualiTech.

She continues, “One of our long-term goals is to start a volunteer program where technical professionals, like those at Yardi, would come in to the center to either help patrons with basic problem solving, or even teach a course in something they are passionate about. Yardi has been incredibly supportive. We literally couldn’t have gotten to where we are today without Yardi’s support.”

How Can I Help?

Donations will be used to extend operating hours from twenty-five hours per week to forty per week. These additional hours will make the center more accessible for working adults.

Click here to make a donation to EqualiTech through the SB Gives! website. Be sure to make your contribution before midnight on December 31st.

Learn more about how Yardi supports nonprofits on the Giving Page.