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Kids-U and GiveCamp: good powered by geeks
There are over 100,000 students in Dallas County, Texas between the ages of 5 and 13 who are unsupervised after school hours. Economically disadvantaged students are the most likely to be left on their own due to a severe shortage of free or affordable after school programming in the Dallas area. This leads to an increased risk of dropping out of school as well as becoming involved in substance abuse, juvenile crime and early sexual behavior.
It is these students who are in greatest need of mentoring, academic support and guidance. Kids-U addresses this profound problem. Since 2002, Kids-U has provided after school tutoring in math, language arts and reading to over 3,000 students in Dallas from their 8 tutoring sites set up in low-income apartment communities. 99.9% of Kids-U students have been promoted to the next school grade.
The organization relies on donations from individuals, corporations, private foundations and community organizations, as well as federal funding and in-kind donations that allow them to deliver services, such as food for the children, rent, utilities, and Internet connectivity. Non-profit organizations like Kids-U need to do everything they can to keep their overhead as low as possible.
How can an organization like this afford to hire designers, developers, business consultants and IT professionals? In short, they can't. Every single penny they raise goes towards ensuring underprivileged children get the support they need.
The community steps up - coding for charity
This challenge was precisely what GiveCamp was started for – to help non-profits like Kids-U get the technology and expertise they simply could not pay for, channeling the energy and passion of the developer community towards projects that benefit society as a whole.
GiveCamp is a weekend-long event that pairs charitable organizations with technology professionals who donate their time to assist these non-profits in developing solutions, strategies and tools that help them continue their good work more effectively and efficiently.
Each charity gets their own team, which could include designers, developers, UI experts, database administrators, marketers and web strategists, depending on the specific project. There is no cost for the charities to participate.
GiveCamp relies on the support of local organizations and companies in the technology sector, including hosting services provided by Everleap, to make their events possible.
Since it was started in 2007 in Dallas by Chris Koenig, Developer Evangelist for Microsoft, the GiveCamp program has helped hundreds of charities all over the US with developer and designer services.
Meet Ryan Gilmour, Lead Organizer of Dallas GiveCamp
Ryan Gilmour has been a professional technology consultant for nearly two decades and is currently the Director of Application Development at Slalom, a business consulting company with offices across North America. Slalom focuses on philanthropy, getting involved and community. When Ryan shared with his coworkers in the Dallas office the GiveCamp endeavor and his desire to put his skills to good use, they got right behind the project.
Twelve Slalom people are currently part of the core team of Dallas GiveCamp, doing the heavy lifting of organizing and managing logistics - from something as small as getting the right gluten free meal for someone to something as big as having enough designers on board.Their team of developers, business analysts and project managers come in to help the charities during the event itself. 2015 will mark Ryan's fifth year participating and his third year organizing Dallas GiveCamp.