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Site launch: KIPP NYC is preparing students for success

kippnyc_screenshot_thumbFor fifteen years, KIPP NYC, a non-profit network of public charter schools in New York City, has disproven the ordinary about urban schools in the United States. Their goal has been to “graduate students with the strength of character and academic abilities needed to succeed in life.” They have 1,300 students and 700 alumni, with 80% of them from low-income families and 98% are African-American or Latino.

KIPP NYC is an organization focused on results and results it has shown. Over its lifetime, it can consistently grown to educate more students from low-income families and give them a true opportunity to seek higher education. Their programs have extended from kindergarten to college prep, all supported by a dedicated staff of dynamic teachers. These programs have helped 95% of students score at or higher than the state average in math, 93% of students to finish high school, and 86% of graduates go to college.

In December, PICnet launched a brand new website for the organization, encasing information on various programs, a professional design, and multimedia on staff and students.  It consolidated information from several websites on different programs onto one universal and streamlined site.

Some key components of the project:

  • A lot of content needed to be migrated
  • Information architecture had to be designed for pulling content from multiple sites onto one universal site
  • We set up a simple-viewer photo gallery
  • Plenty of videos for staffers/alumni/families/family testimonials

KIPP NYC is on track to having 50% of their graduates finish college in 6 years in the next two years. The organization’s goal is to strengthen and expand their programs so that 75% of their graduates complete their college degree, compared to national average of 10% for low-income communities.  If you would like to learn more or support these students and teachers in their endeavor, please visit them on the web at

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PICnet Volunteer Series: Pradeep is providing hope

This is the fifth post in our series about the PICnet Team’s volunteer efforts.

Who: Project Manager Pradeep Suthram How he serves: Volunteer for Friends of Prajwala and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

Pradeep has been working for PICnet for several years as a project manager, but still finds lots of time for his community, including his church, and even supporting charities his friends work for as well. But his main project hits close to home: for the last couple of years he has been volunteering for Friends of Prajwala, an organization that works to help victims of sexual trafficking and prostitution in India. As a a native of Hyderabad, India, Pradeep has found a way to help the people from his home country, and has even gotten support from multiple friends and family members.

Through Friends of Prajwala, Pradeep has been leading a fundraising effort called The Rebuild Campaign to help build a new shelter near Hyderabad for 600 women and girls who are survivors of sexual assault and trafficking. Growing up, Pradeep witnessed a lot of poverty and wanted to do something about it – he says that trafficked women and girls are some of the most poor people in India, and therefore denied their rights. He has since built a website for The Rebuild Campaign, and helped to raise $16,000 so far through his friends and networks.

Pradeep also assists the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) with website development (using Joomla! of course) and he has helped to organize an international development career fair and hosted seminars on microfinance and technology related to international development. “UNA NCA has helped me to connect with a lot of like-minded ‘do-gooders,’ and learn about some really interesting issues,” says Pradeep.

Read more about UNA-NCA.

Learn more about Pradeep.


CEO Women, a Non-Profit Soapbox Client, Uses New Media to Educate Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs

One of our Non-Profit Soapbox clients, Creating Economic Opportunities for Women (C.E.O. Women), was featured on this week for their innovative approach towards using new media to educate women entrepreneurs.  The organization’s mission is to train and assist immigrant and refugee women to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners.

C.E.O. Women launched “Grand Cafe,” an educational video series in a Latin Telenovela format, that features immigrant women helping each other to establish their businesses.  Characters range from a Haitian jewelry maker to a Chinese accountant, each learning how to integrate entrepreneurship into their lives.  C.E.O. Women is using “Grand Cafe” to reach out to more than 170,000 women in the San Francisco Bay Area who could benefit from their services, and we’re pleased to see them getting recognized for this.

With the help of our information architect, project manager, and in-house designer, we developed the organization’s website in mid-2008 on our Non-Profit Soapbox 1.0 System.  As C.E.O. Women continues to work diligently to serve a wider clientele, our team at PICnet is constantly improving our technology and services that match their scale of work.

Check out the trailer below:


Check out Non-Profit Soapbox 2.0


Tools we love: Google for Non-Profits 

In addition to some of the work we do for clients like site redesigns, upgrades, migrations to Non-Profit Soapbox or Joomla and custom applications, we also like finding cool tools for our clients and partners to use in whatever way works best for them. We’ve written about website, databases, applications, webinars, conferences and more in the past. Today’s cool tool is a combination of many resources – Google. Oh, just Google? you might be thinking. Well, duh, we use Google Docs and Gmail and Google Calendar.

But hold on, don’t click away yet. You might use some of Google’s basic features, but have you really looked into what they do for non-profits? Read on a little more and you’ll see some of the great resources at your fingertips – all through Google.

Read more »


Cool tool: GovTrack

We love finding new tools for our clients to use, and we recently came across a pretty cool one that was highlighted on the Progressive Exchange listserv*. GovTrack, an independent web tool that allows the public to track the activities of Congress, including voting records, legislation status and member information, has an API that makes it easier than ever for non-profit organizations to pull the information they need for free. And we know that in non-profit technology, free is good!

Using GovTrack’s API, for which there is no key, you can track bills, votes, congressional districts, and even map the districts using Google maps. It’s very cool and can be very useful for organizations who focus on Big A Advocacy and legislation. The website pulls from sources like Thomas, the official Library of Congress legislation database, among others. It was nominated for a Webby Award in 2006, and is run by Joshua Tauberer, a PhD student and software developer.

Companies like PICnet and those working in the non-profit community should be thinking about ways in which this data can be used – and not just for advocacy, but to simply inform their supporters how their congressional representatives are voting. It’s a great way to educate people on how politics can play a role in your issue or cause. So check it out!

*The Progressive Exchange is an online community for non-profit technology organizations and individuals. People submit best practices, questions, job vacancies and more. A must-read for NPO techies!


Non-Profit Soapbox 2.0.5 is released!

Tonight, we launched Non-Profit Soapbox 2.0.5 to add some nifty features for our Soapbox clients.  We modified and updated a number of good features as requested, including some of the following:

  • the Display News module more effectively displays upcoming events
  • provides Soapbox administrators more access to editing their Web sites from the frontend (visitor’s) view
  • optimization to the search engine friendly URL system

We’re clipping forward at a great pace using our PICnet Agile methodology, and we’re bringing in bug and feature requests into each of our releases.  If you’ve got a request you’d like to see tossed into our queue, let us know, and we’ll be happy to review it in our agile process.  Hop over to the Support Center to submit your request, and we’ll take it from there.

Release 2.0.6 has begun, see you in a few weeks!


Non-Profit Soapbox 2.0.4 rolls off the assembly line

In early April 2009, we launched Soapbox 2.0, a system that allows organizations to enjoy the power of  Joomla! 1.5 without needing to worry about common open source hurdles, like installation, hosting, and full-service support.   It also consists of some awesome new components that Joomla! lacks out-of-the-box, such as our Taxonomy 1.0.

Just 30 minutes ago, we officially launched Soapbox 2.0.4, which gave us an opportunity to improve some key functions within our Taxonomy extension.  These improvements will make our Soapbox clients quite happy, and include key updates like the creation of  hierarchical term (or tag) structure for your content with a slick implementation of RSS feeds per term. You can also change the view of the term to be like Joomla’s Category List Layout or Section Blog Layout.

What does all this mean?  It means that you can now provide several ways for your audience to view an article/page without duplication, maintain a list of terms/tags without overcrowding your tag cloud, and better meet your audience’s hunger for specific tag-specific information.

Enjoy it! I know these folks will – Behind the Green.


Innovators Who?

Innovators NetworkEarlier this year, PICnet Inc. started working on another exciting new project with Alan Rosenblatt, at Turner Strategies, to create an online infrastructure for 3,000 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, patent lawyers and more! This network will serve as a platform for business owners and angel circles/venture capitalists to find each other, thus developing a network for innovators to simply “plug” into.

Using Community Builder and other inextensible Joomla! components, we are practically building another MySpace or Facebook to help fellow entpreneurs grow their companies. Cheers to the “Innovators Network“!


First Tuesday of November

Next Tuesday, November 7, 2006, the United States of America will conduct its mid-term elections, putting all the seats on the House of Representatives (Lower House) and certain seats on the Senate (Upper House) up for re-election. At this critical juncture, there is a large possibility for the Republican party to loose its majority in these houses to the left-leaning Democratic Party.

Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization, engages in registering Americans to vote and was successful in registering 1.4 million citizens in the 2004. This year, Rock the Vote, worked with Google Inc., to produce the US Election Guide as a layer on Google Earth, showing US Congressional Districts and the candidates running for these seats. It also provides you with “news, web, and photo searches” via Google. Read more on Google’s blog.

Download Google Earth to figure out where you and your friends can go to vote in America.

Image Source: Rock the Vote


Blogging in Sudan

Jan PronkLast week, a highly reputable Dutch politician and UN Envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk posted on his personal blog about the loss of the Sudanese Army against militias in the troubled area of Darfur. Arguably outside his job description, this action resulted in removal of Mr. Pronk from his position in Sudan, thus throwing another blow at the UN’s efforts to restore peace in the region.

For the techies out there, this “blog” was nothing fancy – a series of simple html pages. It was the usage of the technology and not its superiority that really mattered. Within 48 hours of the content going live, a significant diplomat lost his job, insulted the Sudanese Ministry of Defense, and apparently fractured a diplomatic effort. Unlike the typical corporate world, this situation reminds us the importance of tech-developers (companies and/or organizations) in the non-profit sector to engage directly with and adopt the agendas of our clients, mostly non-profits and political clients. It becomes increasingly important to deliver technology that meets their specific needs, not simply as existential tools but as reliable paths to accomplishing one’s agenda.

Image Source: US Department of State