SmartRiverside is doing its part to grow the tech community in Riverside. The program offers a High Technology Tenant Improvement Program, awarding grants to small technology companies with sales of less than $20 million per year. The program is designed to help offset tenant improvement costs for small technology companies, allowing them to redirect capital.
The Digital Inclusion Program is also contributing to the Riverside tech community by developing a future workforce. The program generates revenue through its e-waste collection efforts; such revenue is then used to purchase and provide free computers to low income families. They receive the free computer and Microsoft software after they take eight hours of free computer training, provided in English or Spanish. To date, SmartRiverside has given away over 6,500 computers, and was recently featured in a Forbes article about how Ex-Gang Members Help A Smart City Bridge The ‘Digital Divide’. The SmartRiverside Digital Inclusion program teaches at-risk youth how to refurbish and repair computers, and the experience gives them a life-changing opportunity to develop ‘soft skills’ to last a lifetime.
The Digital Inclusion Program is funded through e-waste collection, grants, and SmartRiverside’s successful golf tournament, which recently netted over $80,000. It will also receive funding through Give BIG Riverside and its day of giving to the nonprofit community. The number of computers given to low income families is directly correlated with SmartRiverside’s ability to generate funding. SmartRiverside Executive Director Lea Deesing says, “The demand for computers far exceeds the supply. SmartRiverside is looking for new ways to generate revenue so that more computers can be given out to meet the needs of the community.” SmartRiverside will soon begin “crowd funding” through a new web site where local citizens, who care about the project, may make electronic donations directly to this nonprofit to help continue to narrow the digital divide within their city. In return, the citizen, or sponsoring business will get a listing on the web site as a “sponsor” of the program.
SmartRiverside’s High Technology Tenant Improvement Program and the Digital Inclusion Center are working together to grow Riverside tech businesses, and to train Riverside’s youth for a future high tech workforce. To learn more about SmartRiverside, visit smartriverside.com