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Idaho nonprofits leverage tech, lead push for teaching code

Idaho funded computer-code training for 400 K-12 teachers over the past 16 months, and now instruction by the nonprofit Code.org is part of the curriculum statewide. Here, students and parents learn programming basics at a free event put on by Code.org at an elementary school in Mill Valley, California.
Idaho funded computer-code training for 400 K-12 teachers over the past 16 months, and now instruction by the nonprofit Code.org is part of the curriculum statewide. Here, students and parents learn programming basics at a free event put on by Code.org at an elementary school in Mill Valley, California. The New York Times

It’s hard to think of any part of our daily routine that hasn’t been impacted in some way by technology.

Many people start their day, before even rolling out of bed, on their smartphones, catching up on what happened while they were sleeping. They use apps to avoid traffic on the way to work, then spend the workday communicating with clients and colleagues over the internet. Technology has changed the way we consume information, treat the ill and injured, even the way we connect with friends and family.

So it should come as no surprise that tech is also changing the way nonprofits operate — and in some cases changing their missions.

Today’s nonprofits are leveraging mobile apps that increase communication and engagement and social-media platforms that expand reach without expanding costs. They’re using improved analytics to operate more efficiently and affordable cloud-based platforms to bring big computing power to organizations without internal IT resources.

In Idaho, we’re seeing effective collaboration between nonprofits and local and regional tech companies. For example, the Red Cross in Idaho used our AlertSense technology to quickly assess volunteer availability and fully staff the shelter within minutes during a Blaine County fire.

These efforts go far beyond relationships of convenience, and the impact can be stunning. Think about what has happened in Idaho in conjunction with Code.org, the Seattle-based nonprofit focused on increasing computer literacy and teaching young people to write computer code. Idaho was the first state to bring Code.org’s Hour of Code into the K-12 public school system. The state funded training for some 400 K-12 teachers over the past 16 months, and now Code.org is part of the curriculum statewide.

We’re training a generation of computer code-writers, and it started with a nonprofit with a great idea and a mission to make the world a better place through technology.

There are countless examples of nonprofits working with public and private partners to drive innovation with a purpose. They’re making a difference, here in Idaho and around the world.

Von Hansen is president and CEO of AlertSense and chairs the executive committee of the Idaho Technology Council. This column appears in the December 21, 2016-January 17, 2017, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine as part of a special section on nonprofits. Click here for the Statesman’s e-edition, which includes Business Insider (subscription required).

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