Under The Hood with Techspark!



size_550x415_PPL circleIn October, we introduced Under the Hood to better understand how technology oriented nonprofits in Minnesota function.

This recurring series is made possible by research partner Altrulytics and underwriter Atomic Data.  Over the coming weeks we will publish individual responses, and in the end, compile an aggregated assessment of the landscape with further analysis.

Organization name: Project for Pride in Living (PPL); program is techspark! (formerly BRIDGEdotMN)

Executive Director: Paul Williams

When was it formed and for what purpose?

PPL was established as a nonprofit affordable housing developer in 1972. Since then, PPL has evolved to become a multifaceted service provider to help lower income families and individuals get on the path to self-sufficiency through affordable housing, employment training, support services and education. Our techspark! program, formerly BRIDGEdotMN, launched in 2010 to build digital literacy skills in low-income youth by providing them with computers, internet, and technical training.

Who or what do you serve?

The techspark! program serves low-income youth generally ages 13-18.


How many do you serve?

There have been 65 participants in the techspark! program.

What are the main programs/resources that you offer?

techspark! provides after-school programming for middle school and high school students. Through these courses, the children are given laptops with Internet access and are taught a technology curriculum and monthly tech skills lessons. Pre and post tests are administered as well as bringing the children on field trips to places such as the University of Minnesota, Clock Work, and the Hack Factory.

Do you have earned income and if so, how?

No earned income.

What key metrics do you use and how do you measure the impact of your org?

techspark! uses assessment tests, a learning consortium, employment tech skills, pre and post tests, program and individual measurement, technology adoption ,social skills development, and literacy measurement (fall — middle — end of year)

How do you source funding and can you provide us with three years most recent tax returns?

Funding comes from a unique fundraising partnership with TECHdotMN, sponsorships, and philanthropy.

2011 | 2012 | 2013

Do donors fund the organization as a whole, specific programs and/or something else?

techspark! donors specifically fund a portion of the youth development program. We have raised close to $70K + a $20k Youthprise grant and received $5,400 internet service in-kind donation from Mobile Citizen.

Given the options of nonprofits to support in the technology industry, what makes yours unique?

techspark! is a unique youth programming offering which eliminates transportation barriers by delivering programming onsite at their affordable housing locations. In addition, techspark! provides technical skills/training to use the computers provided, digital literacy, providing access to such materials and Internet, a tutor/mentor model, and teaching technical skills for more than recreational use. techspark! helps a ‘hard to reach’ population and provides holistic life skills.

Who is on the executive board of your organization?

Paul Williams, President and CEO
Julie Brekke, Vice President of Programs
Jack Katzmark, CFO and Vice President of Operations
Brad Linville, Vice President of Education
Barbara McCormick, Vice President of Housing

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank You!