Google Helps Nonprofits Innovate

Google Helps Nonprofits Innovate

It’s halfway through first period and 10th grade students from Frances Perkins Academy in Brooklyn, N.Y., are in science class. Not in school, but on a specially outfitted bus parked outside.

The monitors above the microscopes flash into focus and the students are suddenly animated. “There’s something moving!” “They’re just crawling around.” “Do we drink this?”

“Those are protists,” Ben Dubin-Thaler tells the students. “And no, we don’t drink this. This is puddle water I gathered in the Bronx.”

Dr. Ben, as students call him, is the founder of the Cell Motion BioBus, a high-tech, carbon-neutral laboratory housed in a retrofitted 1974 San Francisco transit bus. The BioBus provides providing hands-on science education to more than 10,000 students each year, visiting public schools across New York City and the country. It focuses its efforts on schools that lack resources for hands-on science education, allowing students to explore the immediate, microscopic world around them in an inquiry-based, hands-on setting aided by state-of-the-art science equipment and supervised by Ph.D.-level scientists.

Recently, the BioBus was gifted an impressive electron microscope, but the staff had found it difficult to share the images after the lesson. Ideally, Dr. Ben said, they’d be able to access images in a cloud-based image library where pictures would be instantly stored and easily sharable.

That’s where HandsOn Tech came in. A partnership between Points of Light and Google, HandsOn Tech leverages AmeriCorps VISTA members to develop the nonprofit sector’s effective use of technology in order to increase community resources and improve outcomes for low-income communities and families.

To streamline photo sharing, New York Cares engaged skills-based volunteer Stephen Bozak to build a plan to network the BioBus, paving the way toward an online image library that gives students greater access to their research from home and allows them to share images with friends through social media.

Housing these images in the cloud allows more youth access to the benefits of science education and enhances their learning experience. The network also allows BioBus teachers to more readily access the files and collaborate remotely, freeing up their time and energy to focus on supporting their students

HandsOn Tech has mobilized 52 AmeriCorps VISTA members across nine communities to develop the technology capacity of the nonprofit sector. Leveraging skills-based volunteers, HandsOn Tech has provided technology training to more than 2,100 different nonprofits and 4,400 individuals on tools ranging from social media to cloud computing. At the deepest level of engagement, select nonprofits that serve the low-income community receive in-depth technology assessments. As a result of the assessment, the nonprofits receive technology plans and implementation of new technology tools for more effective and efficient service delivery.

Google is a Points of Light Leadership Partner, recognized for its commitment to corporate service and its leadership in showcasing the value created through employee volunteer programs. Points of Light’s Leadership Partner Program recognizes and engages companies and business leaders whose social responsibility investments have resulted in significant advancement of its mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.