New Website, New Fiscal Sponsor, New Beginings

Seattle Sunset

In 2017 the fiscal sponsor for Geeks Without Bounds, School Factory, closed its doors. We had long been planning to apply for our own 501(c)3, and figured that this would be the obvious moment to do so. Unfortunately, we weren't able to raise the funds we needed to file the paperwork with the IRS before the end of 2017, and so GWOB had to go into short term hibernation. Our board of directors and core team considered multiple options for moving forward, but in the early months of 2018, it just didn't seem right to go from one fiscal sponsor to another when we felt certain that the right move forward was to become a standalone nonprofit. Executive Director Lisha Sterling committed to finding a short term contract job in order to fund the reboot of GWOB as a 501(c)3. And then an amazing opportunity arose.

Another nonprofit, Mentor House in Tacoma, WA which was established to provide educational opportunities for homeless and at risk youth was discussing closing up shop, but they were also contemplating the possibility of shifting their business plan to continue to serve the community. It was suggested to them that it might be good to talk to us at Geeks Without Bounds about merging our organizations so that Mentor House and Geeks Without Bounds could both continue the work we care about. For Mentor House it would be a new shift -- focusing on technology education rather than on permaculture as their core subject matter -- but we all realized that we had some core agreements around open source, open opportunities, listening to the communities we serve rather than dictating "solutions" to them, and that sustainability for both the environment and the community was vital.

So, we've agreed to take this new relationship in steps. For now, Geeks Without Bounds is under the fiscal sponsorship of Mentor House. This arrangement will last for a few months, possibly through to the end of 2018, as we continue to discuss how we would like the new, merged organization to function.  At some point, when the two boards of directors feel that the time is right, we expect that Geeks Without Bounds will change over from being "Accelerator For Humanitarian Projects dba Geeks Without Bounds" and will become "Mentor House dba Geeks Without Bounds". 

We will continue to organize and run programs to teach programming, systems administration, cybersecurity, and hardware development in low resource communities. We will continue to organize hackathons where communities can work on the challenges that they consider important to them, building prototypes of humanitarian open source technology and working on new features and bug fixes for existing humanitarian open source projects. We will reboot our Accelerator Program to help teams turn promising prototypes into sustainable open source projects.

We will also be looking into more ways in which we can combine technology deployment in low resource communities with hands-on learning. In 2015 and 2016 we worked in Tanzania with local youth to develop tools for improving the maintenance of rural public water infrastructure. In 2016 and early 2017, we worked at the Water Protector camps at Standing Rock, North Dakota to improve the security of digital devices, set up wireless Internet at the camps, program radios for emergency health and safety communication, and install and maintain renewable power systems that served community tents, medical facilities, and more. This year we are working with a community in Loveland, CO to develop portable demonstration units so that we can teach workshops on how to set up power systems and wireless community Internet service in remote areas on Native American reservations.