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is a wide array of nonprofit organizations that serve the 1.6
million Native Americans in the U.S. They address high poverty, a huge epidemic
of diabetes, the high school dropout rate that is double the American
average, and several other issues.
The American Indian Resource Center, Inc. in Oklahoma
is one of the frontline organizations that addresses these and other issues in a
very interesting way – starting with the children.
I spoke with them recently about how they've used the software donations received through TechSoup to help run their programs. They've benefited particularly from getting a whole host of donations from the Microsoft Software Donation Program and Adobe Donation Program through TechSoup.
The American Indian Resource Center
is located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which is the capitol of the Cherokee Nation. Among the 564 Native American tribes in
the U.S. the Cherokee Tribe is the second largest, nearly as large as the
Navajo Tribe in Arizona and New Mexico.
The Cherokee Nation is the largest part
of the Cherokee Tribe, spanning 14 counties in the northeastern part of
Oklahoma. It is one of the tribal leaders in the Native American environmental
movement. They have for many years led the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council.
American Indian Resource Center’s mission is to develop culturally
appropriate resources to meet the needs of Native American communities in the
areas of education, health, and social services. The organization has multiple
youth focused programs, has 10 employees, and supports several tribes in
addition to the Cherokees in the U.S. The organization is mainly funded through federal grants from the U.S. departments of Justice, Education,
and Health and Human Services.
I had a chance to
chat with Heather
Hale who is their web and publications director, and primary IT person in
the organization. She is a classic accidental techie, having joined the
organization 15 years ago straight out of high school. Because she had a knack
for doing computer stuff, she became the de facto IT person and over time
developed their infrastructure, which is now based on Microsoft
Server 2008, with the help
of consultants from time to time.
She mainly does marketing support though,
running four web domains, running social media
campaigns, and all their graphic and web design. She is a power user of Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver for her websites, InDesign for
newsletters and pamphlets, and Flash for animations (all available to eligible nonprofits in the Adobe Creative Design Suite and some also individually available.)
Heather is pretty proud of the work
they’re doing on behalf of Native American children. Their Educational Talent Search
program prepares middle and high school kids to prepare for going to college.
Most Native American students do not go to college, so many Educational Talent Search
kids are the first in their families to attend college.
The program serves 750
students in 14 rural schools. Heather designs Microsoft PowerPoint-based games, like the Jeopardy inspired one she did that prepares kids for OHLAP, which is a scholarship
program for Oklahoma students to attend Oklahoma colleges and universities. The
kids have a great time playing the games and learn about how to apply for college scholarships.
also creates PowerPoint presentations, brochures, and flyers for their domestic
violence and sexual assault prevention programs called ARRA Track
and TRACES. Heather says that they are technology heavy programs.
are national programs, Heather has to keep track of a traveling staff with
complex scheduling. She uses Microsoft
Outlook to coordinate this work, keeping track of travel and expenses for
caseworkers and consultants. She’s a serious power user. She uses the other
tools in Microsoft
Office, but is one of those people that can do amazing things with Outlook.
Finally the other technology heavy program
that American Indian Resource Center will be doing is called NATIVE,
the Native American Teaming and Visual Empowerment project. This is a new
program that will teach visually impaired Native Americans to use text readers
and text magnifiers, which is a serious need in a high diabetes population.
It looks like
Heather is right where she belongs doing this good work. Her advice to her
teenage son is: “Make sure you really love what you do, and your work will not
seem like a job.”
What does your organization accomplish with the technology donations received through TechSoup and our donor partners?
Share your story about the impact of the donations you receive by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Community Story" in the subject line.