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Here’s How to Give Back — With Your Tech Skills

by Megan Pearl

As the holiday season comes around, many start thinking about ways to give back to the community. There are a myriad of ways to do so, from serving meals to donating gifts, but for those with specific professional or technical skills — there are also ways to have a more meaningful impact beyond just the season of gifts.

Whether you want to guide children from underserved backgrounds to get into STEM careers or help an unemployed person learn the office skills they need to land a new gig, here are a few ways to use your expertise to make a difference this year.

Mentor and Engage Girls with STEM

ChickTech is dedicated to helping girls and women choose and retain careers in STEM. One of their programs, ChickTech: High School, specifically focuses on events and workshops that get high schoolers interested and excited about STEM while fighting stereotypes and lack of resources or opportunity. Because of the communities they target, mentorship through “confidence, trust, and leadership skills” are just as important as the tech information. With chapters across the country, including Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, and more coming soon, they offer volunteers a few ways to get involved including a leadership team, an event-focused “extra-hands” team, and the mentor program. 

Help Seniors Learn Smartphones, Social Media and Computer Skills

Technology can be really helpful for seniors, but there is a learning curve. Jane Ratliff, the founder of BH Tech Group, was inspired by potential for the senior population to fully realize the benefits of consumer tech after buying and subsequently tutoring her 86-year-old mother on an iPad. Jane gave her mother three months of iPad tutoring and by the end of it says she was “sending and receiving emails, interacting with family and friends on Facebook, and playing Words with Friends.” From iPhone basics to learning how to use Facebook, the classes help seniors from all over metro Atlanta learn how to stay in touch and communicate with friends and family.

Teach Office Skills to Job Seekers

Whether you’re looking for a college internship or just winter volunteering, Goodwill offers a variety of community-based opportunities for helping unemployed and underemployed people get the skills they need to succeed. From computer skills like internet browsing or using Microsoft Outlook to dressing right for the office, your tech and corporate knowledge could help someone land a job.

Set Up Educational Computers for Low-Income Children

PowerMyLearning recognizes the benefits of taking education outside the classroom, but also knows powerful tools like computers aren’t available to all children. The program partners with schools to engage the teachers, parents and students in the education process, and provide “Home Learning Centers,” computers loaded with educational software, to families in the program. Volunteers can help train families on the software and set up the computer in the home.

Empower People to Self-Sufficiency with Career Training

Lift Up Atlanta aims to provide homeless and low income families in the metro area with “safe housing, food, clothing and other services designed to help them meet their basic needs, support their education, and empower them to reach self sufficiency.” Those with computer and corporate skills can volunteer to lead or assist in Lift Up Atlanta’s free workshops for those in need.

Of course, these are just a few examples of some of the organizations providing opportunities for skills-based volunteering — and you may not even need an organization to connect with someone in need. Decide what your passionate about and who you want to help and from there, there’s really no limit.

Photos via respective organizations

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