NextStep believes technology should be made accessible to everyone. Our goal is to bring resources and people together. We are dedicated to providing technology to community members who otherwise would not have access, giving them the ability to communicate with others, create jobs for themselves, educate themselves, and to be connected to others in similar life circumstances. NextStep believes all people are brilliant and given the opportunity can excel.
The individuals in our ‘training programs’ are not volunteers. These are community members who come to us to learn job and social skills in our different departments. They generally come to us without prior experience or knowledge. We refer to this program as our ‘technology education training’. The program begins with a Saturday orientation and progresses into a schedule of training opportunities within several areas of the organization. Should an individual choose to participate in the training program, they are informed of an additional opportunity to enhance their educational experience: the ‘Technology Grant’-which is an opportunity to take home a computer and apply the skills they have learned in our training program.
The educational training program is an individualized training in one of three training areas within NextStep. These three areas were developed to meet the individual needs of the participants. They have different requirements, both physically and psychologically. Our educational pedagogy is based on the mentorship model. Our trainers are paid NextStep staff, whose job is to teach and work with these individuals. The training typically begins with dismantling, identification of components, sorting, reassembly, testing, and review. Because the majority of trainees come to us without prior knowledge or skill, sometimes the results are not usable and the process is started over. The training program can then move into more complicated or less complicated technology education – based on the participants desired outcome.
Through partnerships with local government agencies, other local NGO agencies and Lane County school districts, NextStep has utilized a broad coalition of community partnerships over the past 16 years. The goal of these training programs is to help the individual develop job proficiency, to be in an environment that is a functioning ‘business’ and to learn interpersonal communication skills. Many of the individuals who come to NextStep have been unemployed for extended periods and developing technology skills is critical to future employment opportunities.
All items used to build the technology grant are from a donation to NextStep. The educational process is to restore and reuse the technology and to help remove barriers to technology that marginalize children and adults in our community. NextStep may charge an administrative processing fee when delivering this service to other agencies outside of its own organization, but the technology is always free. Collected administration fees are used to support the paid staff, whose job is to train the individuals who utilize our services.
NextStep’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to ‘at risk’ population groups. NextStep carefully separates the goals and individual aspirations of those people who seek its services. Additionally, the individualized programs are structured to meet the abilities of each person, as not every person is full mobile and many come with their own support people.