Nonprofit Technology Resources aids in preparing people for the workforce

Nonprofit Technology Resources works not only to teach participants how to use computers, but also aids them in searching for jobs that are right for their skill sets.

Nonprofit Technology Resources is helping to bridge the digital divide by providing training and computers for people using public assistance through the Tech Ready program.
“The goal of the program is to give [participants] the experience and confidence so that they can work in a team environment and learn new skills,” Program Director of the Tech Ready Program Peter Kiliani said.
The Tech Ready Program is a 12-week program that trains participants to become certified computer technicians.
The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare Workforce Program, Kiliani said.
“People on public assistance are sent to various locations called Earn Centers where they have the opportunity to find jobs,” he said.
“We contracted with the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation to take welfare to work participants at the welfare through the Earn Center,” Kiliani said, adding that they recently expanded the program to include an additional 40 participants.
“The mission of NTR is to provide various real-life work opportunities,” said Kiliani.
He said participants learn various skills including warehouse production services, customer service, quality control, production schedules, how to diagnose and troubleshoot problems and how to identify computer parts and use them properly.
NTR also offers an Adult Literacy Program.
“We offer training for the GED and teach participants how to use Microsoft Office Suite,” Kiliani said.
“We believe you cannot get a decent job without it,” he said. “We try to raise [participants’] comfort level by teaching them how to use the computer. We use real life examples – how to budget, how to find information on the internet and perform simple math calculations.”
Kiliani said he believes there is no point looking for a job, particularly in this economy, unless an applicant has the skills to offer and is able to market those skills effectively. He said NTR teaches participants not only how to find jobs, but also how to match their skills to different jobs effectively.
NTR evolved over the last 35 years. A group of volunteers whose goal was to teach the community organizations how to use various media started it, said Executive Director Stan Pokras.
“[Volunteers in Service to America participant] John [Zelson] became interested in refurbishing computers as a way to help low-income communities,” said Pokras. “He organized various community and non-profit organizations to form a city-wide coalition of refurbishers [and] encouraged VISTA volunteers to become staff.”
Brian Lancaster, adult education and tech ready instructor, who has been an educator for 30 years, said he enjoys teaching his students how to use the computer and achieve their goals.
“I have been in the program for six and a half weeks. I like coming here. I have more fun at my job, because I love what I am doing,” said Tech Ready participant Janine Collazo. “If you stay focused and continue to build on your knowledge of computers, you can learn a lot here.”
“This program is supporting what I want to do,” said Joe Jackson, a graduate of the Tech Ready Program and retired mental-healthcare worker.
NTR’s Computer Adoption Program distributes donated computers to community organizations. More than 100 organizations have benefited from this program.
Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at

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