TECH CORPS has established a process for organizing state chapters that helps to ensure a national identity while maintaining local and state character. The process also ensures high quality and service standards among all state chapters.
The process of organizing a state chapter has ten basic steps:
1. Convening an Initial Planning Team
Whether they come from industry or education, the initial planning team should include 3-5 leaders who can bring an understanding of the educational and economic dynamics and resources of the state. Planning team leaders should have contacts that will enable them to shape an effective coalition of people who are committed to making TECH CORPS a reality in their state.
2. Forming a Task Force
Because TECH CORPS represents a strong partnership between business and education, the Task Force should have members from both of these sectors, and ideally would include a senior representative of the state department of education. A key task of the planning team is to recruit a Task Force of 10-15 people and/or organizations that can provide the necessary guidance, direction and feedback that will be required to implement the TECH CORPS program. Typically, the Task Force continues to work as an advisory committee to the state program director even after a Board of Directors has been appointed.
3. Appointing a State Chair
The Chairperson should be an individual with vision and passion for educational technology who is capable of leading, inspiring and directing the efforts of the Task Force. Look for a person who is already recognized as a leader in fields that relate to education and/or technology. Credibility, recognition, commitment and the ability to work effectively with Task Force members are the qualities to seek.
4. Establishing Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Status
The national TECH CORPS organization is incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity. In order for contributions to states to be tax deductible, each state chapter must be independently established as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, and must be covered by the TECH CORPS national group exemption. The national office files annually with the IRS to bring qualifying states under this national group exemption. In special cases, waivers may be granted to allow a new chapter to link with an existing organization that has that independent 501(c)3 status.
5. Soliciting Financial Sponsors
A TECH CORPS state chapter requires sponsorship and funding to support itself. Typical expenses include a state program director; operating expenses such as postage, printing, mileage and meetings; office space and equipment, such as computers, phones and fax; and resources to support volunteer recruitment efforts. Multiple corporate, foundation, and other sponsors should be sought, consistent with the philosophy that TECH CORPS provides a “big tent” where even competing organizations can collaborate to benefit students, teachers and schools.
6. Creating a Board of Directors
At the same time that sponsors are being recruited, efforts should begin to build a formal organizational structure for the new TECH CORPS state chapter. The Board of Directors is responsible for the fiduciary guidance, governance, and long-term strategic direction of the new chapter, and for hiring and overseeing the state program director. The Board should be comprised of thoughtful community, educational and corporate leaders who are able and willing to contribute funds to and raise funds for the new state chapter.
7. Appointing the Chair of the Board
The Chair of the Board of Directors should be a recognized statewide leader with a compelling vision to steer by, and the reputation, leadership skills and personal leverage to realize that vision. Ideal chairpersons would include a statewide elected official such as a governor, senator or congressperson; a university president or the state’s chief education officer; or the chief executive officer of a major state corporation.
8. Naming a Project Director
This individual will implement the program, train the District Coordinators, recruit and manage the volunteers, work with the Task Force and Board, and oversee the day-to-day activities of TECH CORPS. The program director is usually one of the only paid positions in the state organization (depending on the size of the state). A minimum half-time commitment is recommended during the TECH CORPS pilot phase, while a full-time paid director is needed to successfully implement the TECH CORPS model thereafter.
9. Selecting School Districts as Pilot Sites
School districts are not a formal part of the actual state organizational team, but they are critical implementation partners. Selection of the pilot districts is an early responsibility of the Task Force. Selected school districts should represent demographic and geographic diversity among urban, suburban and rural areas of the state. For the pilot phase, choose districts that have demonstrated a commitment to educational technology.
10. Completing the License Application
The chapter license application documents the creation of the TECH CORPS state chapter as it carries out the above nine steps and accomplishes each task. Actual paperwork requirements are very minimal in order to keep the organizers’ focus on building the teamwork, partnerships and relationships that characterize a successful TECH CORPS chapter. The licensing application must be completed and the license agreement signed before pilot programs can be implemented.