by Gary Beach

Tech Corps: Giving Back to the IT Disadvantaged

Aug 15, 20032 mins

Several weeks ago I visited prominent CIOs for an early morning breakfast in Seattle. My mission: Convince them that the city’s public school infrastructure needs their help. Fast.

Before the meeting, the CIOs may have been preoccupied with how to transform their businesses through the prudent application of technology. Yet the stats I shared with them grabbed their attention.

In the Seattle public school system, there are 55,000 users, 16,000 computers and 20—yes 20—support staff. Do the math. That’s one support person for every 800 computers—computers that are becoming older and more outdated with each passing day.

Seattle’s numbers are somewhat under the national average: A public school has one tech support person for every 500 computers.

What’s the computer-to-staff ratio at your company? In business, the ratio averages 50 computers for each tech support person.

Public schools, often beholden to vanishing state budgets, must do more with less, like many businesses. For schools, technology infrastructure support is far down on their list of priorities.

Here’s where you can help. Tech Corps ( has started a program called Student Tech Corps. The program is designed to recruit middle and high school students to work with schools in creating and supplementing tech help desks that will ensure their infrastructure keeps running.

A key component of the program is its local focus. Student Tech Corps emphasizes the grassroots tech support needs of your public schools within your community. Some schools need help with broadband and Wi-Fi, while others need help keeping 486 PCs running.

Keeping tech staff morale up during the past three years of curtailed spending and budget cuts has been difficult. But having your business sponsor a school via the Student Tech Corps program gives you and your staff a great opportunity to give back and train the next generation of technology professionals. Your tech staff will work side-by-side counseling those middle and high school students who are managing real-time help desks.

Inspired? Interested in learning more? Drop me a note or contact Tech Corps Executive Director Karen Smith at, and we’ll get you started. I guarantee that participation will make you feel good.