Take The SMB Makeover Challenge


BACKGROUND:
The Center For Family Life Employment Services (CFLES) is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based nonprofit agency that specializes in free employment preparation and job placement. The Center, founded in 1978, has seen a surge in the number of people coming through its doors,as many as 200 per day,given the rise in unemployment and, more recently, the number of displaced workers following last year's terrorism attacks. But in terms of technology, CFLES has been "doing a lot with a little," says Hal Allen, senior technology consultant at NPower NY, which provides tech support to the Center. According to Julie Cohen, a computer instructor at CFLES, the Center has 26 old PCs, none of which are networked and only two of which can access the Internet. "We haven't purchased anything new in the three-and-a-half years since I've been here," she says.

Current Infrastructure

  • 26 standalone PCs from

    myriad vendors (5 with NICs)

  • 8 standalone printers

  • 1 external modem

  • 1 Netgear four-port hub

  • 4 phone lines (2 dedicated,1 for fax and 1 for Internet

    dial-up access)

  • Office 97 application software

  • No virus protection

    Goals
    A technology makeover would go a long way toward helping CFLES meet four objectives:

  • To establish a client/employer database that would improve the ability to match the skills of program participants with potential employers

  • To enhance the English-as-a- Second-Language instruction component of the program through the use of computerized instructional software

  • To increase the computer-

    training capacity of the Center so clients are better able to compete in today's job market

  • To enhance Internet access for program participants to enable them to perform more self-directed job searches

    VAR Challenge
    Come up with a solution for CFLES, keeping in mind the limited funds of a nonprofit agency. Think servers, PCs, firewalls and backup software, wireless NICs, cabling, and also business software that clients could be trained in to make them more competitive in the marketplace. VARBusiness is in the process of lining up vendors, including 3Com, among others, to provide some of the necessary equipment. Now we just need your ideas. Detail an infrastructure, complete with hardware and software recommendations, plus how your solution will help CFLES realize its goals. The winning solution provider will be featured in an upcoming story that profiles this project and its outcome. Please e-mail your proposal by Sept. 9 to VARBusiness

    sections editor Gayle Kesten (gkesten@cmp.com).

    Have an SMB makeover in mind?
    Or maybe you'd like to tell us about one you already did. We're all ears. E-mail VARBusiness sections editor Gayle Kesten (gkesten@cmp.com) with the details, and your story could be featured in an upcoming issue of VARBusiness.