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Berkeley Access to Skills, Information, and Computers (BASIC) is  the result of a year-long technology planning project in the low-income neighborhoods of South and West Berkeley (called Team TECH).  The project has convened more than 20 organizations, facilitated by the Berkeley Community Fund, in conjunction with the United Way, Americorps*VISTA, and IBM, to form the BASIC collaborative.  Together, BASIC agencies assessed existing technology capacity in South and West Berkeley, helped to acquire new computer resources for the neighborhoods, and assisted local organizations in developing a long-term plan for using technology to improve service delivery and quality of life in Berkeley. 

BASIC aims to create an accessible system of organizations, people, and equipment that will maximize the use of technology resources to provide people living in Berkeley with information about available resources, jobs, and services.  The system will also serve as the communications foundation for service coordination.  This will create a service system with no wrong doors; where residents can gain access to information and services from many welcoming, nearby locations. 

The Team TECH technology planning process has placed 15 computers into local nonprofit organizations, helping to establish a technology infrastructure that will serve as the backbone of the BASIC program.  This infrastructure now includes seven largely unstaffed computer labs spread throughout the neighborhoods, a wide array of public access Internet terminals located at local community based organizations, and an established online information and referral system of local organizations (the Berkeley Information Network) maintained by the City’s Public Libraries.  BASIC will use this as the foundation for operating the network of computer and information sites throughout the two neighborhoods to connect local residents with important information about obtaining services. 

In this system, technology will function as a tool for connecting people to information, services, and jobs, while also acting as a vehicle for employment and improving the job prospects of residents.  It will both serve and employ local residents who have limited access to computer technology in using a technologically linked social service information system. 

 This technology plan details the activities involved in the seven primary components of this system for increasing the neighborhoods’ capacity to use technology: 

1. The acquisition and placement of publicly-available computers; 
2. A program to train and employ local residents, with a special focus on welfare recipients, to staff public computer access and information sites (computer labs and individual public access computers) available at social service agencies across the neighborhoods; 
3. An icon-based web site to provide information about services (enhancing the Berkeley Information Network) in a more easily used and accessible form; 
4. Staff training to increase organizations’ ability to use email and the Internet for communication and referrals between organizations; 
5. Marketing and promotion of available computer resources to the public; 
6. Coordination and technical assistance in the use of technology resources (both human and hardware) by service agencies city-wide; and 
7. A system for ongoing evaluation of the BASIC program to document progress and guide future efforts. 

Together, these integrated project components will help South and West Berkeley to maximize its use of computers as a tool for training and employing the City’s neediest residents, while simultaneously helping others to access both technology itself and information on the services available in the two neighborhoods.