This summer, Community Tech Network (CTN) participated in the University of Texas at Austin’s CONNECT Program, which matches graduate students with community organizations. The students gain real-life experience supporting nonprofits while also helping improve the organizations’ impact through better data practices.
Shiyang Zhang, a fourth-year doctoral student, was paired with CTN to support the data collection, analysis, and reporting processes for our DigitalLIFT program. She developed pre- and post-assessments to analyze the impact of our learning modules, searched for new tools to meet the organization’s needs, and even helped with data visualization by creating infographics.
“Shiyang is just a powerhouse,” says Skye Downing, CTN’s capacity-building program manager. “She was an absolute joy to work with. We met weekly throughout the process, and she jumped right in from the get-go, always providing deliverables.”
According to Skye, one of Shiyang’s biggest contributions is the creation of a diagnostic assessment for the DigitalLIFT program. “The diagnostic assessment helps us understand the needs of partner agencies so that we can provide customized recommendations to best serve them.”
The experience was excellent for everyone.
Says Shiyang: “I’m interested in nonacademic career paths, specifically the intersection between nonprofits and data analytics. I had the chance to learn a lot during this experience and use a variety of new tools.”
Alyssa Studer, the CONNECT Program manager, was also thrilled to work with Community Tech Network. She says: “CTN’s work is so important. We interact with organizations from many different sectors, but digital literacy runs through the core of everyone’s work. Digital access is not a commodity, but a necessity. CTN’s work supports everyone’s work.”
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