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Grassroots tech help – Focus on social justice

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By Todd Cohen

Small grassroots groups in the Pacific Northwest will be eligible for tech assistance from a new initiative backed by four foundations.

The Project Alchemy initiative aims mainly to help small social-justice groups assess their tech needs, but it also will offer services ranging from training and consulting to troubleshooting and volunteer-matching.

Because the four foundations found they lacked the know-how to assess the tech aspects of grant requests or grant-applicants’ tech needs, Project Alchemy will serve both the foundations themselves and their grantees with annual budgets of less than $300,000.

Some services will be free, while others will be fee-based on a sliding scale.

The four foundations are contributing $10,000 each, and Project Alchemy plans to raise the bulk of its operating costs for the first three years from larger foundations and individuals.

The group will have its own board and staff, and will work in collaboration with other tech providers, including ONE/Northwest, a Seattle nonprofit that provides tech services to conservation groups in the region, and NetCorps, a nonprofit in Eugene, Ore., that recruits students to put their tech know-how to work for nonprofits.

Funders include A Territory Resource, Pride Foundation and Women’s Funding Alliance, all in Seattle, and McKenzie River Gathering in Portland, Ore.

The initiative is headed by Andrew Himes, former director of Internet publishing for Microsoft.

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