Summer 2003

Jemuel Johnson: The CTC behind the CTCs in Rochester, NY
by anonymous

Jemeul Johnson

“My loves in life are people and technology, the arts and sciences,” says Jemeul Johnson, Program Coordinator for Community Computers for Rochester, NY, a Science Linkages in the Community (SLIC) project. After graduating with a B.S. in Communications in 1994, Johnson began working as a technical and instructional consultant in the Dr. Freddie Thomas Learning Center, a school that stresses computer and media technology’s importance in the development of students, families, and the community. And when an opportunity arose at SLIC, Jemeul was eager to continue his work building and strengthening Rochester’s computer access programs.

Current Work

For the past two and a half years, I’ve been the Project Coordinator for the Community Computers for Rochester project which received a three-year grant to establish 30 community technology centers in the Rochester area, in organizations that wanted CTCs or wanted help with the CTCs that were already running. My job is to carry the baton in a way, to be the drum major.

Each CTC works with us for two years. The first year is for setting up centers—for overseeing the design and building of the center, for developing staff, and for creating the CTC environment. This sometimes involved work with architects, engineers, overall vision. During the second year, each center creates a tech plan.

What we provide to the CTC during this time are three things: technology, human resources, and curriculum development. With the technology, we help them with their networking, with installation, with connecting their center to the larger community network. We provide encouragement for management, staff, and volunteers. We help them coordinate their team and develop problem-solving and other leadership skills. We give them a resource CD with operations, curriculum (we don’t dictate curriculum—they create curriculum that fits their community’s needs), instructions for developing a tech plan, and free software and tools—needs that are common among all centers.

Community-wide, I’ve been working with the City of Rochester and with the Academy for Career Development on the virtual help desk, CommuniTech. No tech support? Call into the Help Desk. Our goal is to have 45 CTCs and non-profits connected so we can fix computers remotely. Fifteen are connected now, and 30 more will be connected by the close of 2003.

Another exciting thing is that we’re launching a Marketing Campaign with the Ad Council of Rochester and a private marketing company. CTCNet worked to bring CTCs up to this level of national marketing, and we’re working on this with the intent that this can become a replicable program. With our program, CTCs can utilize opt-in branding and become a “Cyberlink” center (to debut in November 2003).We’ll have a poster campaign that drives home the message “Computer Skills Matter.”


One thing that comes to mind is staff capacity. It’s not so much that people are often coming and going—that’s a challenge, but we have ways to solve that right out. When I talk about staff capacity, I mean it takes a lot of people to run, manage, carry, and develop wonderful CTCs.

Another thing is getting the boards and directors of some organizations to really take their tech centers seriously from the beginning. After the set up year, the CTCs still face a lot of work. Directors are often shocked to see the tech plans, so that’s why we require a memorandum of understanding, so they plan for collaborations, for monthly meetings, for some time before the community really starts coming around to the idea of their new CTC.

The Rewards

I’m happy to be part of the CTC behind the CTC.

Some Words of Advice

See the big picture first, and then work backwards. Make what you are doing sustainable.

Looking Ahead

Community technology is rapidly becoming not just about community access. It’s worked its way into all aspects of community development and building the utopia that people have been talking about.


assalamu alikum,

remember me from the olive garden. we used to work together as hosts.
i was pleased to see ur pic and work
please hit me back at u r earliest convenience

Posted by: arshad abdulsalam at September 21, 2004 02:00 AM

i thought i was the only person with that name my bad for bothering you

Posted by: jemuel thompson at October 1, 2004 10:01 AM
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