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Pittsburgh GiveCamp to offer technological boost to nonprofits

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 12:05 a.m.

A Downtown nonprofit that teaches business skills to youngsters from low-income neighborhoods would like to enable online coaching but is wary of the pitfalls, an official said.

Entrepreneuring Youth requires its volunteer business professionals to pass security clearances before they get matched with sixth- through 12th-graders for supervised sessions at schools or community locations.

Online interaction worries Jerry Cozewith, the nonprofit's cofounder and president.

“We certainly know that in the post-Sandusky era — we've always known — that really bad people do things in public ways and don't get caught initially,” said Cozewith, referring to Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State University football coach convicted of child sex abuse.

For that reason, Entrepreneuring Youth will be among six nonprofits sending representatives to Pittsburgh GiveCamp next weekend at Pittsburgh Technical Institute in North Fayette, where 23 information technology professionals will help them with website and other technology projects.

Entrepreneuring Youth wants a web-based platform that lets staffers view online conversations and sends them alerts when volunteers and youth communicate electronically.

GiveCamp is a national effort to donate technical support to nonprofits with scarce resources, said Chris Koenig, a Microsoft senior technical evangelist who started GiveCamp in Dallas in 2007. Eighteen GiveCamps have taken place or are planned in the United States and overseas in 2012.

Pittsburgh GiveCamp co-organizer Irwin Hurst, a software developer at Mt. Lebanon-based Computer Enterprises Inc., said the camp fills a need, because some nonprofits struggle to keep up with technology.

Dollars spent in that area could instead go toward fulfilling their missions, he acknowledged.

Koenig said some nonprofits make the mistake of assigning employees with “the nicest computers” to maintain websites, but those employees might have little grasp of web design.

Josh Sager, program director of multimedia technology at Pittsburgh Technical Institute, is helping coordinate GiveCamp.

“To the lay person, it might just look like a website, but there's a lot of web design and infrastructure involved,” Sager said.

This is the second GiveCamp in the Pittsburgh area. The first was last year at Development Dimensions International Inc. in Bridgeville. Nonprofits are accepted on first-come, first-served basis, Hurst said.

“In this day and age, if you don't have a web presence, you're missing out on a lot of customers,” said Chris Claypoole, 22, of Robinson, a website developer and GiveCamp volunteer.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com. Jacob Flannick is a freelance writer.

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