Evaluation of the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program: Information Technology Initiative

Gary Silverstein
The Information Technology Initiative (ITI) was designed to install networked computer systems in five settlement houses and link them to a frame-relay wide area network (WAN) that would (1) enhance the quality of their programs by facilitating the integration and coordination of services for individuals and families, (2) equip  participating settlements with computer tools to facilitate their administrative, planning, and evaluation tasks, (3) facilitate the sharing of information about individual clients across the participating settlement houses, and (4) provide settlement program participants, community residents, and groups with access to computers and the information infrastructure. The fourth objective—increased access to computers and the information infrastructure—was to be achieved through the development of community-oriented technology learning centers (called “family rooms”) that had multimedia equipped, Internet-linked computer systems for education, recreational use, and job skills preparation. At the end of the TIIAP grant period, the five settlement houses were linked to the WAN. However, due to extensive delays in “wiring up” the pilot sites, settlement house staff and community residents had not had an opportunity to make extensive use of their new computers. As a result, many of the implementation and community objectives outlined in the TIIAP proposal were not achieved until after project funding had formally expired. By the time of the site visit, four other settlement houses hadbecome participants in the WAN, bringing the total to nine settlement houses (all of the original settlement houses were still participating in the ITI). As a result of being connected to the WAN, these nine settlement houses have the capacity to send e-mail and computer files to each other, and to access information from the Internet through the World Wide Web.
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