Support for Grass Roots Advocacy
The following is from the NCLEJ Report 2003-2005:
LINC: Empowering Low-Income Groups Through Technology
Our Internationally Acclaimed Low Income Network and Communications Project (LINC) demonstrates the creativity and skill with which we are honoring our longstanding commitment to support low-income grassroots groups that advocate and organize for economic justice. Through LINC, we have helped resource-poor groups across the country learn how to use modern communications technology to promote their efforts to speak out, reach new allies, educate their communities, share strategies, and participate in public debates.
The key to LINC's success is our Circuit riders-savvy staff members who uniquely blend technology "know-how" with organizing skills, and who travel the country delivering practical technology assistance to groups. They also spread LINC's successes to the broader domestic and international community of nonprofit organizations and technology-assistance providers fighting for social justice.
Delivered Hands-On Technology Assistance
LINC Circuit riders crisscrossed the country to provide intensive technology assistance to 25 low-income groups in 16 states and six national and regional coalitions, including those focusing on immigrants' rights, workers' rights, and housing rights for people with AIDS.
Our Circuit riders were able to identify each group's needs, and then tailor our services to fit. We then trained each group in how to use technology in its organizing and advocacy work, whether their need was for basic email and internet access or for making more effective use of databases in their organizing efforts, including voter registration and voter turnout campaigns. Groups used technology as the backbone of campaigns to improve welfare recipients' access to education and training, to fight for protections for domestic violence victims, and to re-direct state spending to low-income programs.
Led the Way with Innovative Technology Applications
LINC continued to break new ground in adapting technology to meet the needs of grassroots groups whose limited financial resources are a major obstacle to their acquiring technology. In a successful and innovative pilot project, we adapted free Open Source Software (OSS) for grass Roots organizing (a Missouri group), produced a case study on this initiative, and then deployed OSS for other grassroots groups. This pioneering effort won national and international recognition, and an IBM-funded primer on using oSS in non-profits featured our work.
We also provided training on OSS for grassroots groups and non-profit technology assistance providers, both here and in developing countries.
Educated Grassroots Groups Through "How To" Materials
We created and widely distributed practical, user-friendly technology education materials to grassroots groups. Our well-received Technology Tips focused on common questions, such as how to deal with spam. In a major expansion we developed the LINC Guide to Choosing an Operating System to take the mystery out of choosing computer operating systems. Funded by the Open Society Institute Information Program, as part of an international project, it is available in an interactive format on the web.
Spread the LINC Model to a Broader Community
We multiplied LINC's effectiveness by using the web, print, and numerous workshops and conferences in the united States and abroad to spread the word about our strategies and the successes of grassroots groups in integrating technology. These success stories served as models to inspire other non-profits and grassroots groups here in the united States and in developing nations in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Note: The LINC Project ended in 2006 when funding ended.