Connecting for Good, Inc.
2006 N 3rd Street
Kansas City KS 66101
Denise Brown, from Juniper Gardens in KCK, got a job with UPS following her digital literacy training with instructor Richelle Phillips
Mission Statement
The mission of Connecting For Good is to provide digital literacy skills, computers, and internet access for low-income communities to open minds and opportunities for a better future. 
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Thomas Matthew Esselman
Board Chair Michael Levine
Board Chair Company Affiliation Susan G. Kommen Foundation
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2011
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer Connecting for Good needs donations of computers that can be refurbished and provided to low income Kansas City families.  Volunteer opportunities include teaching and mentoring people of all ages in digital literacy classes and collecting, refurbishing and distributing donated computers.  Financial donations are always welcome and much needed, in the form of cash, checks, foundation and trust grants, and through individual contributions using PayPal through our website.
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement The mission of Connecting For Good is to provide digital literacy skills, computers, and internet access for low-income communities to open minds and opportunities for a better future. 
Background Statement
At Connecting for Good, we ask the question: What happens if you don’t have internet access? If you don’t have a computer? Without these resources that many of us take for granted, can you attend community college? Can you readily apply for a well-paying job?
The truth is that unequal access to technology tools and skills can topple low-income neighborhoods’ chances to become stable, thriving places to live. Education, jobs, entrepreneurship, and even access to basic knowledge—technology makes-or-breaks these opportunities for many individuals and families.
Connecting for Good tackles these challenges—bridging the “digital divide”—ensuring equitable technology access through innovative, community-based solutions. Founded in 2011, the initial mission of Connecting for Good (CFG) was to provide internet connectivity to low-income communities throughout Kansas City’s urban core. Just one month after we became a certified nonprofit, we installed the first free Wi-Fi networks in Rosedale Ridge, Kansas, bringing low-cost internet services to nearly 400 residents.
Today, Connecting for Good operations are broad and deep. Our four-pronged strategy provides:
  1. Connectivity and low-cost internet service to residents in the urban core
  2. Refurbished and discounted computers to income-qualified residents and agencies throughout Kansas City
  3. Education including free digital literacy classes, workforce development programs, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities for students
  4. Nonprofit technology capacity building to help organizations achieve their missions
Impact Statement
Accomplishments in 2018:
  • As a mission-focused agency, all CFG programs are designed to reach low- income residents as well as nonprofit partners and community centers serving urban core neighborhoods characterized by the digital divide. Since inception, Connecting for Good has impacted over 20,000 lives. In 2018, we saw a 20% increase in the number of Wi-Fi connections installed in housing developments, community centers, and nonprofits. Additionally, since 2015, CFG has either donated or sold over 2,000 refurbished computers for as little as $35 each.
Needs Statement
Major program funding needs:
  • Life Skills program: Curriculum development, professional development training, materials, and support costs— $80,000
  • Education Skills program: Curriculum development, professional development training, materials, and support costs — $50,000
  • Career Skills program: Curriculum development, professional development training, materials, and support costs — $70,000
Major facilities funding needs:
  • Completion of remodeling LAMP campus for Cisco workshop, Pearson Vue Testing Center, childcare space, Drive Up Computer donation service entry ($25,000)
  • Support costs for developing workforce development expansion to 'Digital Commons' concept on LAMP campus ($50,000)
  • $85,000 in costs for upgraded job training program for Juniper Gardens KCK Housing Authority residential facility (240 apartments) in 66101, the poorest zipcode in the state of Kansas, to upgrade internet access, computers, and training —this is in response to Google Fiber announcing that Juniper Gardens will no longer be included in its Connect Home gigabit fiber installation plans.

General operating funding needs:
  • $45,000 to support recruitment, background checks, training, and materials for volunteer program in support of expanded services
Service Categories
Urban & Community Economic Development
Educational Services
Job Training
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement Entering its 7th year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Connecting For Good is emerging in the scale of its programs, outcomes, and financial sustainability. The strategy for 2019-20 focuses initiatives and resources on driving growth and the capacity for managing growth. Metrics for growth focus on two outcomes categories: Education and Technology. EDUCATION: Recognizing the significant barriers the youth and adults we serve face, Connecting for Good (CFG) continues to increase the education-to-workforce opportunities we provide. This continuum of services assists youth and adults with building STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), digital literacy, and career readiness skills helping participants (1) improve educational outcomes, (2) strengthen employment prospects, and (3) strive for economic stability. TECHNOLOGY: Since 2012, the expansion of accessible and affordable broadband internet infrastructure and mobile devices has not outpaced the demand within low-income communities for low-cost computers, wifi hotspots, and internet-enabled community services. CFG is expanding its positioning--and staking a big part of its future financial sustainability--on becoming the leading community partner in Kansas City for computer refurbishing, reuse, and electronics recycling.
Programs
Description
  1. Free Internet for families in low income public housing. We use Wi-Fi mesh networks to spread connectivity to communities that otherwise would have very limited access.  As of March, 2019, we now have nine Wi-Fi Communities with over 1,800 devices connected at any given time among these low income households.
  2. Wifi Hot Spot Devices with Affordable Internet Service- partnering with two national organizations, Mobile Beacon and PCs For People, we offer this special service to low income families and nonprofit organizations.
  3. We offer a referral service to all the existing ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offering affordable internet programs for qualifying residents.  Often times confusing for families to navigate on their own, these offerings range from large corporate companies like Google Fiber, AT&T, and Comcast, to smaller targeted vendors like PCs for People
Program Budget $25,000.00
Category Community Development, General/Other Neighborhood Revitalization
Population Served At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
As of March, 2019, we now have nine Wi-Fi Communities with over 1,800 devices connected at any given time among these low income households. 
Long-Term Success
Access to the Internet brings with it a chance to apply for jobs online, connections with family and friends, access to virtual library shelves, information about medical and health issues, online education - GED completion and college courses - and a whole lot more.

These are resources with the potential to help an under resourced family move toward a healthier, happier and more secure future. Along with a broadband Internet connection, we are also including digital literacy training and distributing very inexpensive computers as part of this initiative.
 
Program Success Monitored By

For our wireless projects we have developed an initial survey and do follow ups at regular intervals to identify who is using the Internet and what they are doing online.

The wireless equipment we use can track which devices are connecting to the network, how often they connect and for how long they are using it. While not tracking individual user behavior, we can get a very accurate picture of the population that is using the networks we will set up.

Examples of Program Success
Residents of Juniper Gardens and other housing complexes with internet access provided by Connecting For Good regularly visit our computer labs for assistance with job searches and employment skills.  In 2018, eighteen individuals attained new jobs or promotions as a direct result of the internet access and skills gained by the interaction with Connecting For Good.
Description

One of the main contributors to the Digital Divide is a lack of access to affordable computer equipment. Many under resourced people who could connect to the Internet simply do not have the funds to purchase a PC.

Our staff, interns and volunteers take used desktops and laptops and create high quality, Internet ready PCs. As a participant in the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program, a software grants program allows us to provide these computers for as low as $50 to those who complete our free digital life skills classes and meet income qualifications.
Category Human Services, General/Other Household Goods Provision
Population Served At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success
In 2018, Connecting For Good experienced its biggest year ever for refurbished donated computers, exceeding 2,000 devices sold or given away to low income families throughout the KC area. A big portion of that came from the Back to School Kansas City, MO public school event during which over 300 computers were sold for as little as $20 each. 
Long-Term Success

Our goal is to see that still useful computer equipment does not end up in the landfills but rather in the hands of people who really need them.

Long-term success for us is to see thousands of refurbished computers disseminated to adults, students and seniors through the Kansas City area who otherwise may not have been able to afford them

The ultimate goal is to assist them to become functioning citizens in a digital age, participating fully in all of the online activities that are essential for life in the twenty first century.

Program Success Monitored By

One of the main contributors to the Digital Divide is a lack of access to affordable computer equipment. Many under resourced people who could connect to the Internet simply do not have the funds to purchase a PC. Meanwhile, millions of still usable computers are sent out to be stripped down and their components recycled. The return on these activities is about $12.00 per unit.

As a participant in the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher Program, a software grants program allows us to provide these computers to those who complete our free digital life skills classes and meet income qualifications.

Every computer that comes out of our shop has a fully registered copy of the Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft Office is also available. We work with Macintosh and Linux computers, as well.

We follow a strict set of data destruction standards that ensure the confidentiality of the information on the donated computers we receive. What we can’t use, we send out to certified recycling organizations so nothing ends up in a landfill.

Examples of Program Success Sarah is a 23 year old single mother who was living on public assistance with two children when we first met her. Knowing she wasn’t providing for her children, she, too, experienced struggles with self-esteem and hopelessness. With minimal education, no marketable job skills or computer knowledge she was going nowhere fast. Over a period spanning several months, this young lady attended our basic classes and learned how to use a computer for the first time.

Because of her limited income, it took Sarah four months to pay for her $50 refurbished computer. She did it by taking on odd jobs to earn the money. During this time, we provided her with one-on-one assistance to learn how to apply for jobs and to develop a top notch resume. She also asked for our help with interviewing skills and choosing appropriate attire.

The good news is that she did get an office job and then a promotion within six months of being hired. Besides moving from public assistance to a career, Sarah also completed her GED and is taking college courses on line. All of this happened within the span of just nine months!

Description

By teaching everyday digital Life Skills, Education Skills, and Career Skills, Connecting for Good helps under-resourced families, senior citizens and the disabled to experience all of the possibilities that the World Wide Web has to offer

We are conducting regularly scheduled free classes and one-on-one and hands-on digital tutorials at our centers located at 3210 Michigan Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri and at 2006 N 3rd Street in Kansas City, Kansas.

We also offer tutoring and special classes on these topics at public housing facilities, churches, and community centers throughout Kansas City’s urban core.

Program Budget $195,000.00
Category Education, General/Other Computer Literacy
Population Served At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

Education:  In 2018,  Connecting For Good provided over 5,000 hours of digital literacy training through 22 staff members and volunteers. Over 500 students completed at least one module of the North Star digital literacy assessment and fifteen people completed the more advanced Cisco Comp TIA A+ IT basics course. 

Long-Term Success

Our goal is to bring more users on to the Internet and to assist them to use it in a productive way. Long-term success for this program is seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of people who were previously not users at all become fully functioning digital citizens.

Success also includes seeing these people improve their lives because of the knowledge we impart, especially in gaining employment and education online.

Program Success Monitored By
Pre- and post-instruction surveys are being developed. We plan to do a follow-up survey at various intervals to learn how people who have been through the training have been using the Internet and how their lives have changed.
 
For the digital literacy classes we have to measures of success, a student create an email account and send a message with an attachment. A second measure is the ability to open a web browser and use a search engine to find information they seek. 
Examples of Program Success A 68 year old senior living in low income housing, once felt very alone. All of her family members had moved to Texas and California. Because of her limited budget, after completing the classes it took her 3 months to pay for a computer on our “lay away” plan . In the meantime, we taught her how to use Facebook and it’s chat feature. Before, she had very limited contact with her children and grandchildren and just a few pictures at holidays.

Using Facebook Annette now sets times to chat with her daughter and grandchildren. She is also able to see their photos in sports, school functions and family activities. She also does chat sessions with her son every week. This is so important for her because all she can afford is a cell phone with limited minutes.

Because she is now “digital,” she no longer feels unwanted, abandoned or old and unnecessary. Instead, by staying in touch with her family, she now feels loved, wanted, needed and has more fun. Getting a computer, learning how to use it and being a part of the world and connected changed Annette’s life dramatically.

Description

CFG currently operates two community technology centers, at 2006 N 3rd Street in Kansas City KS and 3210 Michigan Avenue in Kansas City MO. Located in two of the areas most under resourced neighborhoods, we offer a variety of programs to promote technology use and access, including regular free classes in computer and Internet use.

We are in the process of creating after school and summer programs for youth that will be conducted at these sites.

Category Education, General/Other Computer Literacy
Population Served At-Risk Populations
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

 

  • Northstar Digital Literacy Certification—over 500 students completed at least one module. 
  • 173 kids trained through collaboration with Operation Breakthrough and Coder Dojo (KC Women in Tech).
  • Provided training in five HUD Public Housing communities.
  • Averaged 1500 subscribers per month across nine low-income housing sites.
  • Provided over 70 wifi hotspots through PCs for People

 

Long-Term Success Our goal is to make sure those who live in Kansas City's under resourced urban core neighborhoods have access to the Internet, even if they do not yet have an in-home connection.
 
We are partnering with the Kansas City Public Library and the City of Kansas City to use the free Google Fiber Community Connections to create public access computing spaces in city-owned facilities.  
 
In the coming years, we will be focusing on outreach to the Northeast area of Kansas City on the Missouri side of the state line. Our research has found that a very high percentage of families there are living on the wrong side of the Digital Divide. 
Program Success Monitored By For the digital literacy classes we have to measures of success, a student create an email account and send a message with an attachment.  A second measure is the ability to open a web browser and use a search engine to find information they seek.
Examples of Program Success Liza is an unemployed 38 year old woman could neither read nor write. She how to use a computer and the Internet for the first time in our free classes. Outside of the sessions, we introduced her to educational word games. Using them, she taught herself how to read, write and spell. Because we made it fun for her, she came in every day for several months.

Once she started learning, Liza’s thirst for education was fueled, she couldn’t get enough. She felt she just had to have a computer that she could use at home. Like the other two women, because of her limited income, the only way she could purchase a refurbished PC was to take on odd jobs, like scrubbing floors. Before long, Liza was able to get a part time job and her self-esteem and confidence have blossomed.

CEO Comments

Entering its 7th year as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Connecting For Good is emerging in the scale of its programs, outcomes, and financial sustainability.  The strategy for 2019-20 focuses initiatives and resources on driving growth and the capacity for managing growth. Metrics for growth focus on two outcomes categories:  Education and Technology. EDUCATION: Recognizing the significant barriers the youth and adults we serve face, Connecting for Good (CFG) continues to increase the education-to-workforce opportunities we provide. This continuum of services assists youth and adults with building STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), digital literacy, and career readiness skills helping participants (1) improve educational outcomes, (2) strengthen employment prospects, and (3) strive for economic stability.  TECHNOLOGY: Since 2012, the expansion of accessible and affordable broadband internet infrastructure and mobile devices has not outpaced the demand within low-income communities for low-cost computers, wifi hotspots, and internet-enabled community services. CFG is expanding its positioning--and staking a big part of its future financial sustainability--on becoming the leading community partner in Kansas City for computer refurbishing, reuse, and electronics recycling.

Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Thomas Matthew Esselman
Term Start Jan 2016
Experience

Tom Esselman was named CEO of Connecting For Good in January, 2016, succeeding co-founder Michael Liimatta, who relocated to Washington DC to lead the national Connect Home initiative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Tom has always been passionate about community engagement and leadership.  He came to Kansas City in the late 1980’s to work for Hallmark Cards, and eventually became an Innovation Director, responsible for creating Hallmark’s ‘Song Cards’, and Recordables.  After retiring from Hallmark in 2012 as a senior innovation executive, Tom was recruited to be the CEO for the Institute for the Ages, a startup nonprofit in Sarasota, Florida, where he built a successful record of leveraging healthcare technologies and digital inclusion for the senior market.  He gained experience bridging public and private funding as well as local and national efforts to drive the mission of a nonprofit entity.  Tom, and his wife Mary, returned to Kansas City in 2015 to be closer to their children—and two recent grandchildren. At Connecting For Good, Esselman is focused on developing robust programs focused on Education, Employment, Economic Impact, and the Environment—an outcomes approach to take Connecting For Good and the digital inclusion movement into a larger scale of clarity and impact.  The leaders who have worked with Tom describe him as a “creative connector’ with the ability “to see around corners” and inspire teams to ‘achieve the unthinkable’.  Tom earned his B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and Masters in Business Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Senior Staff
Title Program Director
Title VITA Program Manager
Title Technology Manager
Title Executive Assistant
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 9
Paid Part-Time Staff 3
Paid Contractors 5
Volunteers 150
Retention Rate 100%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 6
Caucasian 6
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 8
Male 4
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Collaborations
  •       KC Coalition for Digital Inclusion
  • Front Porch Alliance
  • Black Community Fund
  • Kauffman Foundation
  • Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
  • R.C. Kemper Family Foundation
  • D.W. Kemper Foundation
  • G.K. Baum Foundation
  • Sherman Family Foundation
  • Francis Family Foundation
  • Housing Authority of KCMO
  • City of KCMO
  • Unified Government of Wyandotte County
  • Full Employment Council of KCMO
  • Workforce Partners of KCK
  • Veterans Community Project
  • Troost Alliance
  • Linwood Corridor Coalition
  • Black Family Technology Awareness Association
  • Blue Hills Community Services
  • Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority
  • Kansas City Public Schools
  • Kansas City Public Library
  • KC Digital Drive
  • Literacy Kansas City
  • Operation Breakthrough
  • Reconciliation Services
  • The Surplus Exchange
  • Upper Room/Swope Renaissance
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiative
  • W. E. B. DuBois Learning Center
  • Linwood YMCA
  • United Way/VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)
  • Jackson County COMBAT
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Life & Justice CampaignDiocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph2014
Sustainable Success StoriesMidAmerica Regional Council2014
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments

To be a trusted partner means that we commit ourselves to all parties engaged in digital inclusion work. This includes the corporations in the technology fields, as well as other corporate employers whose future workforce needs are linked to digital literacy. It includes the core institutions like schools and libraries, whose educational resources are enhanced by community partners who can help to exponentially expand the impact of their learning focus. It includes the broad network of social service providing agencies who collectively target the same vulnerable urban core families and individuals with an aim towards sustainable life improvement. And it includes an ever expanding focus on partnerships with our surrounding community of funding supporters, individuals and organizations with whom we share a perpetual passion for applying creative and innovative thinking and acting to address the stifling effects of poverty and blight in our cities’ urban core.

Board Chair
Board Chair Michael Levine
Company Affiliation Susan G. Kommen Foundation
Term Jan 2014 to Dec 2020
Email michael@eat-kc.com
Board Co-Chair
Board Co-Chair Barbara Lach
Company Affiliation University of Missouri at Kansas City
Term Jan 2013 to Dec 2019
Email lachsmithb@umkc.org
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Chad BlyCPA, Spencer Reed Group, LLC
Tim FeathersStinson Leonard Street
Leslie GasserDon Bosco Center
Barbara LachAsst to the Dean, UMKC School of Biological Sciences
Michael LevineRace & Events Manager, Susan B. Komen Run for the Cure
Ralph MunyanAttorney in Private Practice
James NewRetired, US Army
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 5
Female 2
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 50%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 12
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Operations
Advisory Board Members
NameAffiliation
Michael ThomasOperation Breakthrough
CEO Comments



Financials
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2019
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $750,000
Projected Expenses $741,158
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016, 2015: Financial data reported using Form IRS 990.
  • Foundation/Corporation revenue line may include individual contributions.
Detailed Financials
 
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$321,382$203,475$233,828
Administration Expense$125,361$111,594$73,282
Fundraising Expense$57,971$42,472$16,409
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.691.270.83
Program Expense/Total Expenses171%57%72%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$184,874$173,395$60,823
Current Assets$152,979$139,859$48,898
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$31,790$20,172$5,051
Total Net Assets$153,084$153,223$55,772
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities4.816.939.68
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Campaign Purpose To raise funds in support of two projects:  capital improvements for the Surplus Exchange warehouse; and the construction of the Digital Commons--an expansion of Connecting For Good's workforce development focus at the Linwood Area Ministry Place (LAMP) campus, 3210 Michigan Ave, KCMO 64109.  
Goal $500,000.00
Dates Aug 2019 to Mar 2020
Amount Raised to Date $50,000.00 as of Aug 2019
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years Yes
Organization Comments

In 2019 Connecting For Good is undertaking a full audit of the 2018 financial year, which has just been added to this profile. 

Other Documents
CFG Annual Report2017View
CFG Annual Report2017View
CFG End of Year Appeal Letter2016View
CFG End of Year Highlight Posters2016View
Connecting for Good PowerPoint (PDF)2015View
Organization Name Connecting for Good, Inc.
Address 2006 N 3rd Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
Primary Phone (816) 5597077
CEO/Executive Director Thomas Matthew Esselman
Board Chair Michael Levine
Board Chair Company Affiliation Susan G. Kommen Foundation
Year of Incorporation 2011