Date: March 2, 1999
San Francisco, CA
Facing the same Y2K, or Year 2000, computer "bug" that their commercial cousins are spending an estimated $300 billion to fix before next New Year's Eve, the nation's one million non-profit organizations can now access a free Y2K Audit Manual and Virtual Help Desk. These will provide them with a snapshot of their vulnerability, a detailed list of do-it-yourself options for becoming Y2K compliant, as well as the technical support to implement these procedures.
In a program developed by CompuMentor, the largest, non-profit computerization assistance program in the country, with funding from three of the most highly regarded foundations in the West, non-profits can now undertake their own plan of action, based on a just-released, free manual that helps to identify and mitigate potential disruptions resulting from the Y2K bug. The problem is caused by some computer programs' inability to distinguish between the years 1900 and 2000 because their original code was written with just two digits assigned to identify years.
As a result, problems associated with the Y2K bug range from simple annoyances to potential computer disasters. A file stamped with the wrong date is easily fixed; but the more serious failure modes for computer applications, including the refusal to start-up or to accept input data such as dates on checks and pledges, could disrupt any organization severely.
The CompuMentor action plan, which can be used by anyone with a basic knowledge of computers, was developed with startup funding from the Peninsula Community Foundation and additional support from the James Irvine Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
The manual includes Overview and Methodology documents, as well as an Audit Task List that takes the user through the steps necessary to complete a thorough review of all systems. It not only provides guidelines for internal meetings, inventory and analysis of equipment that might be affected and the completion of an Audit Report Template, but it also gives directions for an audit of external organizations that send or rely on the non-profit's data and services.
The manual will be available to non-profit organizations throughout the country for free via CompuMentor's website, or as a printed copy for $35. All users may take advantage of CompuMentor's free Virtual Helpdesk service, which will be offered by email and fax. In addition, the Peninsula Community Foundation will do a nationwide mailing of the CompuMentor Y2K manual and disk to over 300 community foundations, which are members of the National Council of Foundations.
"Few, if any, non-profit organizations have the financial resources to hire their own Y2K consultant, yet the potential impact caused by the Y2K bug can be just as devastating for them as for commercial organizations," said Sterling K. Speirn, President of the Peninsula Community Foundation. "This project is a terrific example of 'venture philanthropy,' which means uncovering good ideas from social entrepreneurs such as CompuMentor, and acting to support them in real time to satisfy community needs. CompuMentor had the idea; and with the assistance from the Packard and Irvine Foundations we were able to move quickly in providing the financing that will assist thousands of non-profits in overcoming the problems and costs inherent in assessing and resolving Y2K problems."
"The Peninsula Community Foundation played a key role in recognizing the importance of this project, and in developing additional support from the Irvine and Packard Foundations. All of which made it possible for us to develop the assessment manual and get it into the hands of non-profits quickly and, just as importantly, at no cost," said Phil Ferrante-Roseberry, Executive Director of CompuMentor. "Having the funds available is only part of the solution; putting them to work quickly and effectively is equally important," he added.
Since its founding in 1987, CompuMentor has utilized its consulting staff and volunteer mentors to provide training, support services, and low-cost software to more than 6,000 non-profits and schools. Other recent major projects include development of community technology centers; provision of donated software (CompuMentor is one of two organizations designated by Microsoft to implement its national software donation program); development of an inexpensive hardware Web resource; and various forms of circuit riding, consulting and mentoring, including remote mentoring and matching of mentors with low-income youth transitioning into the high technology job market. Additional information about CompuMentor.
The Peninsula Community Foundation is a permanent charitable institution dedicated to developing and sharing resources for the common good, by bringing donors together with social entrepreneurs, such as CompuMentor, to enhance the quality of life for all community members. With a primary focus on the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley, the Foundation has $220 million in assets under management and granted $32 million to more than 1000 organizations in 1998. Additional information about Peninsula Community Foundation.
Established in 1937 as trustee of the charitable trust of James Irvine, the San Francisco based James Irvine Foundation continues to promote the general welfare of the people of California by funding and supporting community development, health, higher education, youth programs and the arts.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is a private family foundation created in 1964 by David Packard (1912-1996), co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard Company, and Lucile Salter Packard (1914-1987). The Foundation provides grants to non-profit organizations operating at the national and international level, and also has a special focus on the Northern California counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Further information about the Foundation, including recent grants, grant guidelines and the annual report, can be found on the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Web site.