Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve: A new year of CTEP
Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) AmeriCorp Program is
SPNN’s largest program, helping bridge the digital divide for thousands
of people in the Twin Cities through community service. Each fall, 30
people dedicate a year of their lives to working on technology with
diverse populations at a variety of non-profit spaces.
The journey for these AmeriCorps members begins with a Pre-Service Orientation (PSO), led by the CTEP Program Directors, Joel Krogstad and Desirée Culpitt. On Tuesday, their first day, the eight returning and 22 new members met at the Project for Pride in Living (PPL) offices in Minneapolis. The backgrounds and experiences of these new members are as diverse as the sites they will be serving at. Ten of them moved here from out-of-state, several came from other AmeriCorps programs, and they are of many different ages. On the first day of the PSO, members learned about the missions of AmeriCorps and CTEP, and what the digital divide is. New members went over paperwork, while returning members led community building activities to build a cohort feeling among the group. In the evening, the members organized a social trip to the Chatterbox for board games and camaraderie.
On Wednesday, the second day, members learned logistical skills, like how to fill out their timesheets and use the CTEP member site, an internal wiki for members. They also discussed the difference between direct service and capacity building, skills which they are expected to balance in their service. In the afternoon, Joel and Desirée stepped back while returning members led a panel, offering information on how to apply for social services, training opportunities, and things to do in the Twin Cities, as well as answering any questions new members might have. Members finished the day by writing a letter to themselves, which was sealed and will be returned at the end of the year.
On Thursday, their third day, members spent their first day at their new sites, meeting with their supervisors and going through an on-site orientation. Members started to dive in to their work and got to know the space and their new colleagues.
On Friday, the last day of Pre-Service Orientation, members and their site supervisors met at the Powderhorn Park Recreational Center in Minneapolis for a retreat. The day opened with a presentation by MaryAnn VanCura from the Department of Education State Library Services- she is also the co-chair for the Technology Literacy Collaborative. She spoke on the current state of digital inclusion and the digital divide in Minnesota, including information on resources for digital inclusion. Over lunch, Joel and Desirée sat down with the new site supervisors so they knew they were not alone, and that the CTEP staff is available to work with them throughout the year. In the afternoon the group went through the stages of development for Americorps members: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning- they then broke into groups and performed a skit about each stage.
The day ended by listening to a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech about the power of service. He said “Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Members then said the AmeriCorps pledge and were sworn in, officially beginning their year of service.
Members are now at their sites across the Twin Cities. We look forward to a year of sharing their great work with you!
Equipping SPNN Youth
We did it! Thank you for your generous donations.