By Tara Williams, Tech Scouts
Greenfield, MA: August 26, 2014
This past summer, a Greenfield group of young adults called the Greenfield Tech Scouts (http://techscoutsma.org) redesigned and recreated Franklin-Hampshire Youth’s website, fhyouth.org. The new website is easier to edit and maintain, designed to keep information current, and much more beautiful.
Tech Scouts, founded by Greenfield Middle School teacher Bram Moreinis, brings teens and young adults together for IT service learning: finding ways to be productive and useful to others in need of technical support and digital development.
This summer, the focus of the intensive two-month program was on-the-job training, learning the process of building a website as high-functioning teams. Tech Scouts made the new fhyouth.org site by converting static HTML pages into an open-source content management system called Drupal, because of the complex database elements. Other scouts redesigned sites for the Girls Club of Greenfield and the Recover Project, and reconditioned old donated laptops for our use.
Bram Moreinis provided coaching and scaffolding to all teams. Josh was able to design a modern logo to fit the needs of Franklin-Hampshire Youth while having a more visually appealing, modern, and professional look. They were also able to redesign the database system, with the help of Bram, so that both job positions and support sites could have their own unique records to be updated regularly while allowing visitors to search the databases.
The ability for a business to create an account has been added, which gives employers the ability to login and update their listings as well as associate with job vacancies, allowing them to edit or add new job descriptions. The theme of the website was also redesigned using an “off the shelf” theme which was then customized with CSS by Gabe to match the new logo colors.
For some, Tech Scouts has been a beacon of hope for a better life, providing real experience in the field of web development. Without the program, many scouts declared, they would have done essentially nothing productive this summer, playing games or sleeping fourteen hours per day, only to return to a linear education system to graduate and hope to get hired somewhere near their fields one day.
A new cohort of Tech Scouts will form in September, with weekly meetings Monday evenings, 4-5:45, at the Recovery Learning Community Center on 74 Federal Street, and perhaps in school-based locations as well. The Tech Scouts program has provided an unforgettable summer experience and has changed the lives of some of our community’s teenagers and young adults. For Franklin Hampshire Youth, it has also provided a new website to support employment preparation and job application for everyone else.
In fact, a group of Tech Scouts are creating their own web development and media company, Greenfield Digital (http://greenfielddigital.com). Two paying clients are already lined up, and the team is hard at work finding programs and mentors to assist them in organizing the business, developing branding and marketing, and creating the basic infrastructure needed to remain an efficient team when school restarts. These four Tech Scouts have been able take this on with the support of Bram and with the confidence, dedication, and organizational skills that they have gained throughout the summer program.
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