GTOPS Statement

Chip at GTOPS press conferenceLast weekend, I mentioned the press conference to announce the Grant for Technology Opportunities selections for this year. The press conference happened this afternoon, and will be replayed this week on cable channel 6. Here is the statement I gave at the press conference:

Over seven years ago, local leaders had a vision to use technology in novel ways to help people and to strengthen our community. That vision led to the Grant for Technology Opportunities program, or GTOPs.

GTOPs was created in 2001. It was designed by the predecessor of the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission. The Commission wanted to support digital technology projects that could benefit our community. GTOPs is funded by the city, and is administered through the city's office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs, or TARA.

The goals of GTOPs are to:

1. Support programs that provide public access to computers and information technology, especially among under-served segments of our community.

2. Support programs that provide information technology literacy, education, and training.

3. Support programs that use information and communication technologies in innovative ways that serve the community.

4. Provide seed funding for Austin community and non-profit organizations for their technological outreach efforts.

GTOPs is a matching grant program in which local organizations submit programs for consideration. Applicants must demonstrate community support for their program by matching any funds awarded with an equal amount of additional donations or in-kind contributions.

In its first six years, GTOPs awarded $570,000 in grants.

More than 15,800 individuals have benefited from a variety of programs including computer training, media production, and Internet accessibility. GTOPs programs have served people all across the community, including kids, families, and seniors.

GTOPs recipients have raised more than $1,000,000 in matching funds. That includes 17,000 volunteer hours, $429,000 in-kind donations, and $368,000 cash donations. GTOPs grantees have exceeded the one-to-one match requirement by 75% -- an extraordinary return on our investment.

As a condition of receiving a GTOPs award, the recipient organization promises to meet certain goals for success, and a set of measures that evaluate the results of their program. To date, the success rate of GTOPs programs has averaged 123%. That means most GTOPs grantees are not only meeting, but exceeding our expectations for success.

GTOPs is a remarkable program, achieving remarkable results. It's a tribute to the innovation and community spirit of Austin.

Many people have contributed to the success of GTOPs. First, thanks to all the local organizations doing such great work. Also, thanks to the people of Austin for supporting this program -- particularly those who have volunteered to serve on the grant review committee. Thanks to the city staff at TARA, and program administrator Sheena Harden. Sheena has been involved in GTOPs from the very beginning, and nobody in this city has worked hard to make GTOPs the success it is.

Finally. GTOPs would not be where it is today if not for the continued support of the Austin City Council. The Council has allocated funding in the amount of $150,000 for the current fiscal year (2008-09).

Our City Council stood behind GTOPs through the boom years and through the lean years. That steadfast support has allowed GTOPs to grow into the success it's become, and so, our thanks to them.

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Lookin' good!

Your speech was good - but more importantly, you look fabulous (as usual)!