Skeleton of animal who stopped growing
In the first ten years of our existence we have built a good curriculum and developed good relationships with other local and national charities. We helped thousands of people in classes: most recently about 1,400 last year and almost 1,800 the year before last. Our skeleton — our infrastructure — is in place: now we need some meat on our bones and we need to grow. We cannot now sit down and wait for life to come to us: we must grow ourselves to remain alive.
At the recent Chick-Fil-A Leadercast hosted in Fort Wayne at the Abundant Life Campus, one speaker was discussing how he and a co-leader realized, I think it was Intel Corporation, that their corporation had reached a point of inflection — change was needed in their direction or they would be replaced as the Senior management. And so they reasoned together and asked themselves, “If we were gone and the board hired two other guys to come in here and run things, what would those new guys do?” And they decided they would become those two new guys, and took the corporation through another couple decades of excellence.
And so I look at Adult Life Training, Inc. as CEO and ask myself “If I was gone and the board brought someone new in to take over, what would that person do?” We are at an inflection point this year and need to set our direction and focus in order to continue to fulfill our mission.
To help me and our Board of Directors understand where we need to go, we are soliciting input from those who would contribute. Some copies of this case study have been distributed in written form. If you wish to contribute, I encourage you to comment below: comments will not appear immediately but they will be collected and reviewed by our board over the next month for discussion at our July meeting.
It is desired to take this organization to the next level. If the current CEO and Board President were gone and YOU were placed in charge, what would you do? What would you keep, what would you drop: what would you change: what would you add? A description of the organization follows.
In the last decade, Adult Life Training, Inc. has come a long way. ALTi started with nothing but a purpose: “To holistically improve the lives of our community through training, mentor-ship, and example” and with the guiding principal that “We succeed when our clients are no longer denied employment due to lack of computer job skills”. It is now an officially recognized Public Charity (school) which is tax-exempt under IRC section 501(C)(3). It has a curriculum, students, some programs, and a very nice computer lab with attached offices. It also has built good cooperative relationships with, and has a good reputation with, other local charities.
ALTi’s focus has been on Employment: its method has been Job Skills Training. Its process has involved the production of a curriculum with self-published books heavily populated with pictures for most of the program modules. Its curriculum uses both Linux and Microsoft operating systems and office applications to the end that the student will be emotionally and technically capable of using whatever type of computer is used by the potential employer, and is partitioned into four parts:
1. Beginners – teaching the most fundamental aspects of operating a small desktop computer: turning the computer on, using the desktop, keyboard, and pointing device, and properly shutting it down.
2. The Core Modules – used in all other areas of the curriculum, they address three topics: using the File System, using the tool bar buttons for formatting, and using multiple windows. If appropriate, a separate training session dealing with use of Internet browsers and on-line job searches is inserted immediately before the Core Modules.
3. The Office Applications – Spreadsheets, Word Processing, and Presentations.
4. Advanced topics – everything from more intensive use of the spreadsheet to web site programming. This is the only section that is
In the process of performing this work, ALTi has developed student manuals and built a teaching lab with eight student workstations, one workstation for the aide who serves as assistant and room monitor, and a very nice media rack with server, sound system, and two 55 inch video monitors. These computers are all running Ubuntu Linux and Microsoft Windows with both LibreOffice and Microsoft Office.
Over time ALTi also has been called upon to repair client’s computers, reset forgotten passwords, and related client needs, and so it also is enrolled as an official Microsoft Refurbisher: it can legally rebuild and install Microsoft Windows on donated computers for distribution to other public charities: but it has never conducted a big community event doing this.
There are four current programs in addition to which ALTi also helps local charities with computer issues:
1. SCSEP “Senior Aides” program (similar to the youth “IMPACT” program) through Catholic Charities, which trains displaced workers over 55 years of age in jobs skills,
2. Employment training services for the Indiana Access to Recovery program, which helps persons recover from addictions (100% of these clients have either obtained employment after ALTi counseling or entered University)
3. a cultural training program for elementary age Karen (Burmese refugee) children, which provides help with homework during the school year, computer games, a snack, and then group participation in a children’s choir setting to learn American culture and bond with American children,
4. and a public computer class Monday nights.
Heretofore the only funding has been one grant from the Verizon Foundation for some of the equipment, reimbursement at $30 per client contact hour from the InATR program (50% of which goes to the clinicians – gross revenue of about $600/year), a few donations from the community (about $200/year), our volunteer’s labor, and the Nash family’s finances. ALTi cannot hire paid staff due to lack of funds: it is an “all volunteer” organization. this works both for and against ALTi: against in that it is highly restricted in the quantity of people it can help: for in that other organizations and granting agencies know 100% of all money goes to the work, not to executive pay.