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Nonprofit View: Technology & Innovation (Council) to the rescue | COMMENTARY

Thanks to tech companies like Netflix, Peloton, Microsoft, DocuSign, Amazon, Zoom, MicroVision, and others, our stock portfolios soared in 2020. But also thanks to them, we were able to utilize their services in our daily lives and businesses to survive the COVID-19 pandemic! 2020 is not soon a year that we will forget, and four months into 2021, it still feels very much like “second verse, same as the first!”

But what did we learn?

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For the Carroll Technology & Innovation Council, we quickly learned how innovative we needed to be in utilizing technologies to provide information and resources to our members and the community to help them navigate COVID-19 news and resources. We acquired the ability to adapt and overcome, although, many of us never became Zoom Meeting Masters — if you do not believe this reluctant techie, check out our 2020 Holiday Greeting!

From a philanthropic perspective, we were reminded just how big the “digital divide” is in Carroll County! The demand for computers through our TechKids program increased dramatically as we placed 435 new and refurbished computers into the hands of students to help them succeed with virtual learning. To answer another part of that demand, we partnered with Carroll County Public Schools and Comcast to provide Internet Essentials internet services for students without internet in their homes for one year.

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Personally, I have never worked so hard yet been so fulfilled by the work that the CTIC has done and has continued to do despite the pandemic. Hearing from our membership that they shared our COVID business updates with their clients, or from a grateful family that received a TechKids computer, reminds you that we will get through this and when everyone is working together, we all succeed.

How did we provide amazing contributions to our community despite being in a pandemic? Like many, I feverously wrote grants and was fortunate to received substantial funding for TechKids, which prior to COVID, was the first of its kind in the state. (The CTIC has donated over 4,000 computers back into the community and during COVID, assisted other organizations get their programs up and running across the state!) We held a phenomenally successful (and safe) golf tournament in July amidst a full-blown pandemic! By the way, we are hosting our 17th annual golf tournament on May 7 if you want to discuss business “in person” while supporting a great cause!

Like many of you, we anxiously await the day to able to safely return to the office or in-person events, give a proper handshake, and no longer worry about germs from the copy machine. But until then, we will continue to critique our appearances on Zoom and MS Teams meetings, upgrade the capacity of Dropbox, and utilize our Pelotons while binge-watching the latest series on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

One thing is for certain, the CTIC truly works its mission of “Moving Carroll Forward” and will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond!

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Kati Townsley is the Executive Director of the Carroll Technology & Innovation Council and can be reached at kati@carrolltechcouncil.org. For more information about the CTIC, please visit www.carrolltechcouncil.org.

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