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Creating a Digital Peace Corps




Jan 25, 2001


Barbara Chang

I think the concept of a Digital Peace Corps is a great idea and would love to see it become a reality. However we do need to be mindful of our previous conversations in which we discussed at length the need for trusted sources to be the entree through which technology is introduced in these communities.

At NPowerNY, even though we are at a very early stage of ramp up, we have already observed and personally experienced several instances in which our corporate partners have sent in extremely well-intentioned individuals to help this nonprofit and others. Finding the right fit between a volunteer and a nonprofit recipient is a real challenge if for no other reasons because of unrealistic expectations and cultural differences. While the Peace Corps concept may work well in third world countries we would need to be careful of the perception in our communities.

I do agree that the combination of expertise in a particular field coupled with the technical expertise and vision is a powerful combination. It reminds me of the circuit riders that are currently working within nonprofits to bring technology know-how into the culture of these organizations. Again though I think unless the evangelical messages are followed up with real, low to the ground, tangible assistance, we are not helping anyone out.

Whether corporations would find this an intriguing retention tool is an interesting point. Our corporate partners are always looking for ways to make their employees' work experience more meaningful but so far on a short term, volunteer basis. Once a paying project hits however, the employee must find a way to fit their philanthropic activities in on their own time. I believe there is a consulting firm here in NY that gives their employees the option of a 6-9 month leave to work with nonprofits as a way to keep them engaged. I can find out more.


Barbara Chang

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