SeniorNet

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SeniorNet
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization
Industry Education
Founded 1986
Headquarters Herndon, VA, USA
Key people
Mary Furlong-founder, Leslie M. Smith-Board Chairman
Revenue Unknown
Number of employees
6 Full-Time, 4 Part-Time
Website www.seniornet.org

SeniorNet is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals age 50+ learn how to use computers and the Internet to enhance their lives. With over 200 learning centers [1] both nationally and internationally and membership of approximately 20,000, SeniorNet is a leading technology educator of older adults. SeniorNet has benefited millions of seniors since its founding in 1986.

SeniorNet provides an extensive curriculum of over 30 courses, delivered by thousands of volunteer instructors and mentors at SeniorNet Computer Learning Centers via a proven ‘seniors teaching seniors’ methodology. At SeniorNet Computer Learning Centers, members can take classes at all experience levels and learn new computing skills like ‘Computer Fundamentals’, ‘Internet and E-mail’, ‘Digital Photography,’ ‘Buying and Selling on eBay, ‘The Many Uses of Google’ and more, in a friendly, low-pressure environment. The SeniorNet Computer Learning Centers are operated by 4,000+ senior volunteers across the nation with a standardized curriculum provided by SeniorNet headquarters.

In addition to its Learning Centers, SeniorNet features online classes and many discussion groups ranging from current events and hobbies to health matters. The website serves over 2 million page views per month.

As of 2007, SeniorNet operates with a paid staff of six full-time and four part-time employees. SeniorNet generates income from membership dues, class fees, the altruistic donations of individuals and the generous support and sponsorship of corporations and foundations.

Note change in headquarters: 12801 Worldgate Dr., Suite 500, Herndon, VA 20171. Ph: 571-203-7100

Background[edit]

The organization was founded in 1986 by Dr. Mary Furlong, with headquarters originally located in San Francisco, CA. In 2005, headquarters were relocated to Santa Clara, CA. SeniorNet grew out of a research project funded by the Markle Foundation to determine how computers and telecommunications could enhance the lives of older adults.

With an interest in how technology enhanced the lives of older adults, Mary Furlong sought out a funding source. She encountered much skepticism as she tried to find funding for a program to support seniors using computers. In 1986, the New York based Markle foundation, led by Lloyd N. Morrisett, recognized the potential that existed and funded a research project, based at the University of San Francisco. Five learning centers were opened with twenty seniors that year. Apple Computer donated computers to the individuals and centers.

Over the next several years, SeniorNet earned respect in the community and gained new sponsors, which led to the opening of more Learning Centers. Around this time, the organization started to receive national press attention, which caused a flood of interest from seniors from across the country.

Milestones[edit]

1986- SeniorNet opens their first Learning Centers.

1987- Newsline, SeniorNet’s quarterly newsletter, makes its debut.

1988- The first national conference is held at the University of San Francisco. The theme is ‘Building a Community of Computer-Using Seniors’. Sponsors include Apple Computer, Pacific Telesis, the Markle Foundation, and the Ophthalmologic Surgery Society.

1990- SeniorNet is incorporated as a 501c(3) educational non-profit organization and establishes its first independent headquarters in San Francisco. Don Rawitch writes and debuts the “Seniornet Song”.

1992- SeniorNet goes global with a new Learning Center opened in Wellington, New Zealand here. This year IBM becomes a major sponsor and supporter, sponsoring twelve new centers in cooperation with other companies, and later co-sponsoring seven more Learning Centers along with NYNEX.

1993- National press attention from CNN, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today.

1997- SeniorNet launches a new program, the Solutions Forum, sponsored by Met Life, to allow seniors to collaborate on the Internet to address important national and global issues. Ann Wrixton becomes SeniorNet’s Executive Director.

1998- In collaboration with Microsoft, the AARP and Sony Lifetime Connections, SeniorNet introduces over 50,000 seniors across the U.S. to computers. SeniorNet launches “SeniorNet at Sea,” a program with World Explorer Cruises to teach computers on board cruise ships.

1999- SeniorNet earns the inaugural Webby Award for Best Community Site. Southwestern Bell and PG&E sponsor a Consumer Education Center, DrKoop.com sponsors a Healthy Aging Center and Charles Schwab sponsors an Investing Education Center.

2001- The eBay Foundation pledges a 5-year one-million dollar grant to SeniorNet to help bridge the digital divide. SeniorNet partners with SeniorWorld Japan to develop Learning Centers in Japan.

2002- SeniorNet embarks on a nationally televised public service announcement about their programs supported by a grant from the Skoll Foundation.

2003- SeniorNet serves as the test site for IBM’s Web Adaptation Technology to provide visual and auditory support for individuals viewing web sites. PeopleChart funds and produces an online Medical Records Center for SeniorNet. It was approved for association with the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the Dept. of Public Information of the United Nations to disseminate information about aging and technology. SeniorNet becomes a PBS Program Club and offers the first Program Club discussion on the Internet.

2004- Kristin Fabos, a former board of directors member, becomes Executive Director of SeniorNet. A national alliance is formed with the non-partisan By the People to engage individuals in civic issues.

2005- With funding from SeniorCorps and the UPS Foundation, SeniorNet establishes a Retired Technology Volunteers program to identify, recruit, and support older adults who use computer technology in volunteer work in their communities.

2006- SeniorNet celebrates its 20th Anniversary. It has a new focus on under-served older adults. It will work over the next several years to bring computer access and education to older adults in under-served communities. SeniorNet is also opening Learning Centers on five Native American Reservations through an IBM grant, and three scholarship-based Learning Centers through a grant from the HRC Foundation.

2007 – SeniorNet opens its first Spanish-language Learning Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

2010 -

Awards[edit]

SeniorNet was awarded the 1999 Nonprofit Technology Award by OMB Watch for the MetLife Solutions Forum.

In 1999, SeniorNet earned the first Webby Award for Best Community Site

SeniorNet's web site was named among of the top ten rated Web sites devoted to seniors by eMarketer, the international authority on business online. Over 75 web sites were evaluated.

SeniorNet was once again selected as the Best Community Site for Seniors by Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine in its list of The 100 Best Web Sites for 2000.

In 2007, SeniorNet received the Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award from the Alliance for Public Technology in recognition for its dedication to empowering older adults through technology.

External links[edit]