Voluntary Sector Network Support Program - Letter of Intent
Table of Contents
Lead Agency - Project Management*
Delivery Agency Partner Contacts*
Lead Delivery Agency Partner:*
Partner Missions and Experience*
Vancouver Community Network*
United Way of the Lower Mainland*
Vancouver East Community Skills Connection*
Tradeworks Training Society*
Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology*
Lead Partner Detailed Description*
History of Vancouver Community Network*
Voluntary Sector Experience*
Uses of the Internet in the Voluntary Sector*
Internet Training Programs in the Voluntary Sector*
Collaborations with Voluntary Sector Organizations*
Other VCN Project Experience*
Accountability and Record Keeping*
Voluntary Organizations to be assisted*
Summary Description of Method*
General Work Plan*
Detailed Work Plan*
Identify and assess voluntary sector organizations*
Provide Hardware and Software*
Provide Connection to the Internet*
Train Voluntary Sector Group Members*
Provide Technical Support and Sustainability*
Evaluate the Impact*
604 Connect! will provide 200 Lower Mainland voluntary sector organizations with meaningful, sustainable connectivity to the Internet.
The Delivery Agency Consortium is composed of United Way of the Lower Mainland, Volunteer Vancouver, Vancouver East Community Skills Connection, Tradeworks Training Society and the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology. A Community Advisory Committee will assist with identification and implementation phases and be composed of representatives from broad networking groups that focus on youth, seniors, First Nations, disabilities, low income and other groups, especially those that are otherwise isolated.
Lead Agency Ė Project Management
Throughout its six-year history Vancouver Community Network has built on its strong partnerships and collaborations with Lower Mainland organizations and agencies. Providing Internet services to organizations is a core VCN service to the community. Vancouver Community Network range of training programs build community capacity and sustainable use of the Internet.
The 604 Connect! Delivery Agency Consortium will identify a large number of voluntary sector organizations through its member and affiliate groups, a community advisory committee, direct community outreach and a publicity campaign. Organizations will be assessed for program eligibility and interest in receiving the VolNet Service Package. Completed applications will be compiled and forwarded to Industry Canada with an Assessment Report and full proposal for Implementation and Evaluation Phases.
During the Implementation Phase, the Delivery Agency will provide 200 eligible organizations with new or used computer equipment, Internet connectivity, group based and on-site training, assistive devices where necessary, regular group capacity building workshops and ongoing support.
An evaluation team will prepare a narrative report on the numbers of groups and people affected by the program, the uses of services provided, the long term impact of program delivery and itís sustainability.
Delivery Agency Partner Contacts
Lead Delivery Agency Partner:
Vancouver Community Network (est. 1993 as FreeNet)
United Way of the Lower Mainland (est. 1933)
Volunteer Vancouver (est. 1943)
Vancouver East Community Skills Connection (est. 1995)
Tradeworks Training Society (est. 1992)
Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology (est. 1988)
Partner Missions and Experience
Vancouver Community Network
"Information is the currency of modern life. This has been properly called the information age. The free exchange of information amongst members of society has long been recognized as a public good."
- Mr. Justice James K. Hugessen.
The Vancouver Community Network (VCN) has been providing affordable Internet access to individuals and non-profit groups for over four years. In providing a free public computer utility, free training and ongoing support, the CommunityNet provides an invaluable service to those who would otherwise experience barriers to the benefits of Internet based communication and research tools. Vancouver Community Network also provides Public Access Terminal for those who do not have access to a computer at home or work. The Community Network is also a wealth of community information generated by local organizations and agencies, many of which keep their information on VCNís Web server. Vancouver Community Network was awarded charitable status in 1996 after a landmark decision from the Federal Court of Appeal for providing access to new information technologies.
United Way of the Lower Mainland
United Way of the Lower Mainland has been helping children, youth, families, seniors and people with disabilities for more than 65 years. During this time, United Way has worked with communities to address family violence issues, create culturally accessible services, and ensure that human care agencies are supported in all communities throughout the Lower Mainland. United Way brings together business, labour, government, the voluntary sector, and individuals to strengthen the communities in which we live and work.
United Way plays a unique role. It is a fundraiser, a funder, and a community leader. As a fundraiser, United Way raised over $24,450,000 million in 1997. Many agencies could not undertake their own major fundraising efforts and many smaller agencies could not survive without United Way fundraising efforts. As a funder, United Way provides stability and sustained funding to cover 105 member agencies and special project funding to respond to emerging issues and changing social conditions in the Lower Mainland. Over 93 projects were supported in 1997. Donors can be assured that their contribution helps fund agencies that have proven credibility in our communities. United Way ensures donor dollars go to where they are most needed in our community. As a community leader, United Way adds value to the community by encouraging voluntarism, by addressing the cultural diversity in the Lower Mainland, by conducting research on important social issues, by bringing together different sectors in our community to seek solutions to critical social issues and by leveraging resources from different sources to strengthen the well being of the community.
Volunteer Vancouverís mission is to promote volunteerism, and to strengthen the voluntary sector. For 55 years, Volunteer Vancouver has been a vital link between people who want to make a difference in their community and the countless opportunities to provide time and energy as volunteers.
As that link, Volunteer Vancouver promotes volunteer involvement through ongoing media exposure, special events, and public presentations to thousands of local schools, seniorsí centres, companies, ESL groups, community centres, etc. Volunteer Vancouver makes it easy to volunteer by providing access to volunteer positions with over 425 member agencies through personal interviews, its website, a touch screen multimedia kiosk network, and the Talking Yellow Pages.
Volunteer Vancouver builds successful volunteer experiences and strengthens the voluntary sector by providing the necessary resource materials, training, professional development workshops and seminars to Boards of Directors, staff and volunteers.
At the same time, Volunteer Vancouver works with corporations to encourage corporate social responsibility. In 1992, Volunteer Vancouver was a partner agency in launching Leadership Vancouver and has also developed and coordinated training programs in partnership with Vancouver Community College on volunteer management and community development.
This year, Volunteer Vancouver has developed a program in cooperation the New Westminster School District. The Youth Initiatives Program ensures that young people receive planning and organizational skills to connect to a future, which includes taking responsibility for what is important in their lives and their community.
Vancouver East Community Skills Connection
The Vancouver East Community Skills Connection is a coalition of 40 social service agencies, community centres, colleges, universities, governments and private training organizations whose mission is to enhance the employment opportunities of residents of East Vancouver through education, training, employment services, job development and advocacy.
The Vancouver East Community Skills Centre provides computer-based training and skills upgrading. The centreís services are community driven and have evolved according to the needs of the Vancouver Eastside. The volunteer Board represents a wide range of community agencies, interest groups and other stakeholders. Direct community involvement is the key to the decision making process regarding the identification and assessment of training needs. Training programs that meet the needs of business, industry, labour, equity groups, and the community economic development strategy are priority areas for centre activities.
Tradeworks Training Society
Tradeworks is an accessible and relevant part of the Downtown Eastside continuum of services focussed on youth. Tradeworks is accountable, responsible and co-operative. In a safe, supportive environment, sensitive to the individual, Tradeworks provides skills, training, knowledge and work opportunities to enhance quality of life and foster sustainable independence.
Tradeworks has grown substantially from its beginnings as a training facility that focused on the twelve week Basic Building Trades Training into a multi-faceted organization helping identify and meet the diverse needs of the community in which it operates. In October of 1998, Tradeworks entered into a partnership with Vancouver Community College and The Vancouver East Community Skills Center to deliver hands-on training to income assistance recipients wishing to pursue careers in the hi-technology industry. The resulting twenty-week computer-refurbishing project has been an enormous success to date, and the student accomplishments have been many. Tradeworks also provides employment services to income assistance applicants and recipients. Its Job Shop is increasingly utilized as a community resource for all persons seeking employment.
Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology
The Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technologyís (CPROST) primary research focus is the relationship between public policy and the management of technology. The Centre brings together practitioners and scholars to study the interaction of advances in science and technology, their implementation in the marketplace, and the consequent impact on community and individual interests. CPROST promotes understanding of the relationship between private and public sectors as they stimulate, monitor, and control the process of technological innovation. CPROST also promotes sound methodologies for the implementation of technological change and retains researchers skilled in case study techniques, advanced qualitative methods, and the strategic use of information technologies.
Lead Partner Detailed Description
History of Vancouver Community Network
VCN started in 1993 as the Vancouver Regional FreeNet Association. Community activists, librarians and computer scientists came together to form a grassroots initiative that would ensure that the advantages of rapidly evolving Internet technology would be made available to everyone, not just to those who could afford the current commercial rates and acquire the necessary skills. They chose a FreeNet model that had been successfully used for community development in Cleveland, Ohio and applied elsewhere in Canada. Original funding for the initiative was raised, after numerous community consultations, from government and private sources. The funding base also included a large group of interested citizens who formed the core of VCNís membership.
VCN started offering online services in 1994 and grew rapidly over the next few years. By 1996 VCN had made the transition to a Web based information system and was able to offer hosting and support services to include community groups wanting web pages to support and promote their activities. After signing an agreement with VCN, groups are able to modify and update their own information archive, making it available to the public via the Internet. This community level input created a foundation for VCN providing a local content web guide in the form of its Community Pages Index (www.vcn.bc.ca/community/). The Community Pages are the most comprehensive index to Lower Mainland not-for-profit organization and agency information on the web.
VCN services to individuals and community groups are offered without charge. However, VCN does encourage users of its services to support operations to the level they can afford with voluntary memberships and donations. In recognition of this, in 1996 and after a lengthy process, Vancouver Community Network was awarded charitable status in a landmark decision from the Federal Court of Appeal for providing free access to community information and the Internet (www.vcn.bc.ca/vcn/charitable-status/).
Voluntary Sector Experience
Vancouver Community Network (VCN) is a voluntary sector organization with an active Board of Directors (www.vcn.bc.ca/vcn/board/) and around 40 volunteers. Technical roles include Help desk (on-line, phone and walk-in), hardware and software installation and maintenance to UNIX system administration. Administrative volunteers process user information and member fees, keep records and maintain the front office. Educators provide introductions to Internet tools, community liaison, public outreach and networking with other community groups. Others help with partnership building, proposal development and report writing. Others, through their relationship with local groups, help build a community-based, knowledge and skills resource in the non-profit sector.
Uses of the Internet in the Voluntary Sector
Since its inception Vancouver Community Net has worked with the voluntary sector to develop a wide range of information and communication resources. VCN encourages the widest possible participation by voluntary sector organizations towards supporting their goals through the application of new media information and communication tools. It also encourages them to make their information available to anyone with access to the Internet. VCN offers a comprehensive range of Internet services and currently provides these to over 200 voluntary sector groups (www.vcn.bc.ca/ip/). Many take advantage of extensive support provided by experienced technical staff and volunteers.
Internet Training Programs in the Voluntary Sector
Training is considered an essential component of providing genuine access to those who experience barriers. In this respect, VCN has provided and delivered Internet related training to both individuals and to community groups in the voluntary sector. VCN offers introductory workshops to the Internet and workshops specifically designed to meet the needs of community organizations (www.vcn.bc.ca/whats-new/welcome.html#TR). VCN has an extensive library of help information online (www.vcn.bc.ca/help/) and provides an email help desk for groups. In its early days, VCN was a partner in the Trinet program to develop community based Internet training (www.vcn.bc.ca/trinet). An extensive training curriculum written in plain language and aimed at new computer users was developed under the Job Seekers Internet Access Project. Training modules include Windows, Internet, email, newsgroups, and searching the Web. The modules have been successfully used in one-day workshops and will be developed further (www.vcn.bc.ca/jobseek). In addition to the above, VCN has offered occasional in-depth sectoral workshops for specific areas of the voluntary sector. For example, the Community Development Institute workshop in the summer of 1998 (www.vcn.bc.ca/cdi98). or workshops for groups dealing with family health issues through the Community Action Program for Children (www.vcn.bc.ca/capc). Trainee evaluations are available on request.
Collaborations with Voluntary Sector Organizations
VCN is an associate member of the 411 Seniors Centre Society and collaborates with them in offering a computer training facility, public access to the Internet, an online directory, a web page and many other activities. VCN previously collaborated with the National Academy of Older Canadians and Vickery, Mathews and Associates to deliver the Trinet training program. VCN currently works with the BC Centre of Excellence for Womenís Health to provide training, with the Latin American Community Council to provide services for Spanish speakers, with Dawn to Dusk, the Carnegie Centre, Gathering Place and Neil Squire Foundation to provide public Internet access.
Vancouver Community Network has a long-standing partnership with Lower Mainland libraries especially the Vancouver Public Library. The primary partnership activity is in providing public access to community information and the Internet with terminals located in most library branches in the Lower Mainland (www.vcn.bc.ca/vcn/public-access/). VCN also helps develop and hosts a great deal of community content that is used by librarians and those who use libraries. VCNís server, shared Internet feed and phone line access are also housed in the Vancouver Public Library through a partnership that developed three years ago to help provide sustainable Internet services in the public interest. VCN in turn has a close relationship with the BC Library Association.
Other VCN Project Experience
Electronic Labour Market Information Project (1995-1996)
VCN worked with community organizations serving unemployed people and local Human Resources Development Canada offices to establish public Internet access terminals, a Job Bank of employment opportunities, labour market information and training materials online
Communities Connect (1997-1998)
A partnership with EcoCity Network and the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to train 15 local environmental groups and build a website to highlight issues and solutions for an ecologically responsible and socially just vision of the Vancouver region. (www.vcn.bc.ca/ecc/)
Virtual Peopleís Summit on APEC (1997-1998)
Vancouver Community Network provided a "Web Cafe" at the summit site, a Web page and related training and support services to allow for civil society participation in discussion of Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). Activities and services were delivered in partnership with the 1997 Peopleís Summit on APEC and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. (www.vcn.bc.ca/summit/)
Spanish Language Project (1998-1999)
VCN is helping groups serving Spanish speaking people in the Lower Mainland to create sustainable Spanish language community and legal information online. Legal Services Society and the BC Ministry Responsible for Multiculturalism and Immigration are partners in this pilot project. A Spanish language web site is being constructed at www.vcn.bc.ca/spaweb/
Job Seekers Internet Access Project(1997-1999)
VCN is working with the Lower Mainland Career Information Association of BC to provide training and public access for groups providing employment services to "at risk" youth. Additional partners include 12 employment service agencies to house points of access to the Internet, training and other content developed during the project. www.vcn.bc.ca/jobseeker/
Community Building with Community Networks(1998-1999)
VCN is working with the Vancouver Foundation to explore opportunities for community building using the Internet. We are collaborating with local community groups to supplement their programs with online and interactive components and building their capacity to participate in universal access policy dialogues
Community Action Plan for Children - Internet Training (1998-1999)
VCN has been providing a series of two day Internet training workshops for health and family workers around the province in partnership with BC Centre of Excellence for Womenís Health, Frog Hollow Neighborhood House and Health Canada (www.vcn.bc.ca/capc/)
Accountability and Record Keeping
As a provincially and federally registered non-profit, charitable organization, VCN produces annual narrative and financial reports to account for the activities of the society, as well as the receipt and use of society funds. VCNís financial records are maintained by Discovery Accounting. They generate a monthly, consolidated budget comparison and balance sheet for the Board of Directors. They also produce financial statements for the membership of the society, which are presented by the Board at the Annual General Meeting.
Voluntary Organizations to be assisted
The Delivery Agency will identify and contact up to 1000 voluntary sector organizations in the Greater Vancouver local telephone dialing area for eligibility. The 200 eligible groups to be assisted will be drawn from a number of sources: the membership and affiliations of the delivery agency partners, a conference on the community use of Information Technology, other community based events and media campaigns.
A Community Advisory Committee will be struck from representatives of existing networks to ensure that groups approached represent a wide range of activity and geographic location. These networks could include:
The core partnerships of 604 Connect! will be the Delivery Agency Consortium (see attached Letter of Understanding). All Delivery Agency partners will help identify eligible groups from among their membership and affiliates in the initial assessment phase. In addition to this, specific consortium partners will be responsible for particular components of program delivery. The United Way of the Lower Mainland will be responsible for soliciting used computers and some human resources. Vancouver East Community Skills Connection will provide training space, Tradeworks Training Society will be responsible for refurbishing, upgrading and testing computer equipment. Volunteer Vancouver will be responsible for recruitment and referral of trainers and other technical support volunteers. The Simon Fraser University - Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology will provide evaluation and impact assessment of Delivery Agency activities in the Lower Mainland and offer recommendations for sustainability and further development of VolNet goals.
The above organizations represent the core partnerships of the Delivery Agency Consortium. A Community Advisory Committee will be established to contribute both expertise and resources (see above). Also, other partnerships will be developed before and during the Assessment Phase. Government partners will be from all three levels and include student and employment program placements. Corporate partners will include local businesses who donate used computer equipment to be upgraded, software companies for operating system and communications packages, and others who contribute specialized services or assistance such as transport and delivery of computers or work space and shared utilities.
Summary Description of Method
The Delivery Agency will use the membership and affiliations of Volunteer Vancouver, the United Way of the Lower Mainland and other networking agencies to identify and assess the eligibility of voluntary sector groups for VolNet. Eligible groups will receive off and on-site training, refurbished computer equipment, an Internet connection and assistance to use the Internet as a part of their regular activities. An ongoing Internet support centre providing connectivity, training and technical assistance will be available without charge after the program period to ensure the increased community capacity developed during the program is sustainable.
General Work Plan
Six major deliverables are included in the work plan. These are in addition to partnership development, volunteer recruitment and training, coordination and administration activities.
1. Identify and assess voluntary sector organizations:
2. Provide hardware and software:
3. Provide connection to Internet:
4. Train voluntary sector group members:
5. Provide Technical Support and Sustainability:
6. Evaluate the Impact:
type of equipment installed
by type and level of workshop
assess workshop evaluation sheets
explanation of Internet usefulness
adequacy of service, help, support
ongoing needs for training, equipment
Detailed Work Plan
The six major 604 Connect! deliverables are described in more detail below.
1. Identify and assess voluntary sector organizations
Outreach to voluntary sector organizations will be through internal networking amongst delivery agency and advisory committee partners, and via a publicity campaign using news releases, public service announcements, posters, flyers, faxes, letters and phone calls to reach the widest possible range of groups. Where existing networks or databases exist, they will be used to broaden and deepen the reach of program material. For instance, libraries, community centres, neighbourhood houses and coalition groups will pass on program information to groups using their services. Library, cultural alliance, information services and other organization databases will also be used directly to seek out eligible groups.
This phase of the project is considered to be of key importance. It is estimated that of the 1000 groups to be identified as potentially eligible, at least 500 will be in direct communication with outreach staff in order for the Delivery Agency to be in possession of all materials needed to establish eligibility of 200 groups. To reach the desired number of voluntary sector groups, including 25% isolated groups, two out reach workers will be contracted for a period of two months each. This will allow for an average of 3 hours of attention for each successful eligible group to provide a full complement of information ready to be submitted.
The outreach workers will use phone, fax, mail and personal visits to contact and determine the potential eligibility of groups. A designated phone and fax line for VolNet activities will be established at the earliest possible date and a further phone line will be made available during this phase. Much outreach work will be take place at sectoral meetings and conferences where presentations will be made and face to face contact established with key representatives of voluntary sector groups. Standard prompt sheets, questionnaires, checklists and reply forms will be used to facilitate the smooth transition of information to a database. The database will be submitted both electronically and in print form to meet assessment reporting requirements and complement narrative reports.
2. Provide Hardware and Software
Refurbished or new computer hardware will be provided to all selected groups, installed and tested on site to ensure functionality. Depending on the price and availability of new units, the Delivery Agency will implement one or both of two action plans for hardware provision.
Through a computer soliciting and refurbishing partnership agreement, the Delivery Agency will solicit 300 used computers from corporate partners. These computers will be transported to the Tradeworks Training Society where they will be refurbished and upgraded to run Windows 95 and be Y2K compliant. Computer equipment will be PC 486 66Mhz or faster to allow Windows 95 installation, or will be the equivalent in another operating system to enable PPP Internet access. All computers will have colour SVGA monitors and have either internal or external modems capable of 14.4 Kbps. or greater. Unemployed trainees in the facilities of the Vancouver Community College will carry out the refurbishing work. Refurbished computers will be delivered to participating groupsí facilities where they will be installed, configured, tested and used as the focus of a training workshop for the group.
Alternatively, new computers of Pentium 160 quality or better and with internal modems will be configured and installed on site. A training workshop will be provided on using the newly installed equipment to ensure the equipment works for those who will use it.
3. Provide Connection to the Internet
Vancouver CommunityNet will provide dial-in modem access to a Sun Sparc 5 and other Sun servers via an Ascend Max switch with dedicated phone numbers for community group access. The geographical area served will be the Lower Mainland of BC as defined by the Vancouver local toll-free dialing area. Voluntary sector groups will have the option of accessing the Internet via a text shell menu or PPP connection. Service will be available 24 hours a day.
Each group account will include access to email, newsgroups, the Web. A small Web page will be established with information about the voluntary sector group and will be hosted as a sub-domain of Vancouver CommunityNet. The page will contain core contact information, a brief statement of mission and provide an email tag on the page. The page will be listed in the search tools and indexes of Vancouver CommunityNet to make it widely available and accessible. The established Web site is the property of the group which can then maintain and build on it according to their abilities and to meet their own needs.
Voluntary organizations that choose to use commercial Internet Service
Providers for the provision of access, initially or at a later date, will be able to build on their earlier capacity. They will be able to access a VCN POP server for mail and use FTP to maintain their Web site, mailing lists and other utilities, which can be maintained on VCNís server. VCN provides a full range of mail forwarding, CGI, domain name, discussion group and other services to enable groups to take advantage of the community based service while developing their online capacity at a rate that suits their goals.
4. Train Voluntary Sector Group Members
Aside from training volunteers and staff who will be helping to deliver the VolNet service package, there will be three broad training components:
Off-Site Basic Computer and Internet Skills
Half-day computer and Internet training workshops will be held on a regular basis throughout the Implementation Phase of delivery. Two participants from each organization will be encouraged to attend to ensure the sustainability of the groupís use of online services. These sessions will take place in a computer lab where participants will be able to mix and share experiences with others in the sector. The workshop will teach computer and mouse operations, basic Windows 95, using email, lists, Web navigation and searching. Evaluation forms will be used to further develop training sessions to meet voluntary sector needs.
On-Site Organization workshops
After each computer has been successfully installed, a two hour long workshop will be presented to organization staff and volunteers on the installed equipment. Participants will focus primarily on sending and receiving mail, lists and Web searches. The workshop will provide an opportunity for demonstrations, answering questions and personalizing the computer to make it of immediate day-to-day use to the group through establishing bookmarks and mail folders.
Applied Skills Development and Capacity Building
Weekly drop-in capacity building workshops will be held in an off-site computer lab. These workshops will review the concepts learned earlier then develop new skills in Web site development, Telnet, FTP, discussion groups and listservs. These workshops will approach the use of the Internet from the perspective of a voluntary sector organization with minimal resources.
The workshops will explore ways to integrate online activities with everyday office work to optimize the groupís effectiveness in meeting their goals. Discussions will tackle such issues as research, publishing, fundraising, marketing, government and private sector funding processes and resources, online resources and community development.
5. Provide Technical Support and Sustainability
Sustainability in the organizationís use of the Internet will be encouraged through education in the benefits and strategic importance of the Internet which will be integrated with each level of training. Groups will also be encouraged through demonstration to apply their learned skills to the particular circumstances of their sector. VCN provides connectivity on an honour-based donation system, so groups experiencing temporary financial difficulties will not have their continuity of service jeopardized.
Volunteer maintenance and repair teams will be formed to respond to equipment failures or malfunction. A help desk for groups will answer technical questions received in person, by mail, phone, fax or email. Also, an extensive set of help resources covering most frequent problems will be available in paper and online.
6. Evaluate the Impact
Evaluation data will be gathered from database records to be submitted, from written evaluations and from random surveys. Throughout the Implementation Phase, a database will be used to both track the progress of selected voluntary sector groups and to report general progress at regular intervals. During the final stages of implementation, the evaluation team will research, develop and prepare a narrative report on the numbers of groups and people affected by the program, the uses of services provided, their integration, the long term impact of program delivery and itís sustainability.
An external evaluation group, the Centre for Policy Research on Science and Technology, will also confer with the Management Team to ensure appropriate procedures are being developed and complete records being kept.
"604 Connect!" home page