Category: Technology

Eliminate Technology Poverty: COVID-19 is Exacerbating The Digital Divide:

Let's Get To Work, Together! #PowerUp #EliminateTechnologyPovertyOur recent situation with COVID-19 has taught us that “Technology Poverty” is a real thing and we need your help to bridge the digital divide.

“Technology is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!”

Even before COVID-19 there has always been a gap between the haves and the have nots. Access to technology in communities is most closely connected to poverty. Progress is determined by the ability to raise all boats. With the integration of technology access as a necessity, you provide more access to a better way of life.

“COVID-19 is exacerbating the digital divide.”

More than 40,000 Corpus Christi students have had their schools closed due to COVID-19. Many of them don’t have the tools they need for remote learning.

With necessary social distancing, Corpus Christi school districts have closed in response to concerns about the coronavirus. School districts and educators are working diligently to transition to remote learning so students don’t fall behind. My husband Denis is an instructional technologist for the school district and his role is more crucial now than ever before.

But here is the problem: according to the census, approximately 20% of Corpus Christi’s school-age children don’t have internet access or a device at home.

Since 2007, at we have been working diligently, partnering with organizations all over the world to bridge the digital divide.

Technology changed the way the world works and we need to make sure our children have the skills to compete in this new global economy. Every single child deserves the opportunity to succeed in this 21st century.

“This is bigger than COVID-19.”

Did you know that 62% of our students in Corpus Christi are considered economically disadvantaged and research tells us that children from poverty do not arrive at the starting age of school at the same level of readiness as their more affluent counterparts? COVID-19 shed light on the urgency of providing students with long term access to the devices they need to further their education. These students require internet and laptops in order to advance to the next grade level, graduate high school, and complete college applications.

Our mission is to ensure that all individuals—especially those at risk of being left behind—have the resources and the opportunities they need to live healthily and lead productive lives.

Lack of access to technology introduces new hurdles that make it harder for many children to get ahead. For too many children—particularly those from low-income families—regular Internet access is out of reach. Without regular exposure to technology, kids are unable to develop the digital literacy skills they need to compete and excel in a 21st-century economy. Basic computer skills are as critical today as reading and math. Without those skills, children find themselves at a great disadvantage that limits their academic success, future job prospects and earning potential.

Today, I hope to give you a snapshot of how we can increase our community success during the “Window of Opportunity’.

Children have an advantage over the rest of us. They have a rapidly developing brain. This allows them to effortlessly learn and absorb mass amounts of information, all before their 5th birthday. The experts refer to this period of intense brain development as a “Critical Period” or a “Window of Opportunity”. That simply means that during this period of time, it is considered the ideal time to introduce certain things. Skills, such as learning to read, are acquired with the least amount of effort during these periods.

About Little Texas Techies Programs:

Little Texas Techies was created for one singular reason: To give the children in Corpus Christi a strong start in school readiness. My son Zaleik continues to amaze me every day. He was the inspiration for Little Texas Techies. This little boy could turn on a computer, enter his password for his user profile, type his first name and last name. He would open his Little Texas Techies computer programs every day after school and insist on doing what he called his super homework on the computer. He could drag and drop, use keyboard shortcuts and shut down the computer. All by himself. Zaleik did all these things when he was 3 years old. When he was in Pre-k3 he was quickly moved along to be in pre-k4 because he was getting bored in class. When others were learning the alphabet, Zaleik was reading first-grade level books. All this success with the use of a simple tool called a computer. Zaleik is now 11 years old and recently won the CCISD multimedia fair with a first-place award for the best video game designed. There were over 250 entries from all over the local area.

Little Texas Techies provides a rich, totally fun and interactive stimulating learning environment. Our target audience includes prekindergarten and Kindergarten-age children – 3 years old and up. This includes children enrolled in all community early childhood education facilities, including public school pre-kindergarten programs, Kindergarten classes, Head Start, and licensed childcare facilities in Corpus Christi. The program also targets preschool-age children not enrolled in formal childcare or school settings and their parents or guardians.

Approximately 37% of Kindergarten students and 52% of first-grade students are “at-risk” for reading difficulties. According to early reading assessments at our education service center region 2 school districts, this places those students in the category of “at risk of dropping out”, as defined by the Texas Education Agency. Reading proficiency is considered to be essential to success in other core subjects.

So here is what Little Texas Techies can do. Since 2007, our number one goal has been to prepare all young children with the skills they will need to succeed in their future. Our program is expected to impact an estimated 7,200 pre-K and K children each year. This is the estimated capacity of our current program when operating 40 weeks out of the year.

“Building a habit of excellence in our community.”

School readiness doesn’t just happen in a week or two. For example, nobody ever showed up to the Olympics and said, gee, you know what, I’ve always really been interested in this triathlon thing and I’m really kind of feeling it today. So lets me enter. And they just happen to by accident win the triathlon. Yeah, that will never happen. School readiness is a result of certain habits. It is a repeated effort. Long term effort. We are an intricate part of the process by creating a totally fun, technology-rich, and interactive stimulating learning environment that will help our children building a habit of excellence in our community.

As the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, the ability to benefit from the opportunities delivered through computers and the Internet can help a generation of young people move out of poverty.

As we at PowerUp continue to explore ways to provide our programs at an affordable rate, we are respectfully asking for donations and partners to allow more at-risk students the opportunity to succeed.

There is no greater investment than investing in the life of a child. Behind every dollar donated is a child whose education has been changed forever. The future depends on what we do in the present. Be a part of this movement and you will know that you have invested wisely in our community and our children and in our future.

“Together we can bridge the digital divide!”

  1. JOIN: Join The Movement – Become a Member of Learn more about the cause and consider joining the talent lab to help children do their school work online.
  2. ASK: Do you or your school need to request a device? If you are a student, teacher, or parent and need a device or WiFi hotspot to access a student’s homework, tell us your needs.
  3. GIVE: Donate Money: We have partnered with companies to match your donations. The money you donate to will be used for buying laptops and WiFi hotspots for students in need. Thanks to BestBuy and other partners, $150 gets a student full access to remote learning. PowerUp is a non-profit organization exempt from federal income taxation under IRC 501(c)3. Donations are tax-deductible.
  4. PARTNER: Interesting in partnering with PowerUp? If you share our passion for providing opportunities where everyone rises up partner with PowerUp for community success.
  5. DONATE: Donate a Device: Your device can change a life. If you have an old device lying around, you can make a tax-deductible donation below. We are accepting donations of Laptops and Wifi Hotspots that are in good working condition, manufactured after 2017, and WiFi capable. We will contact you with logistical information around getting the device to us so that we can get it in the hands of students who need it most.

#PowerUp #BridgeTheDigitalDivide #EliminateTechnologyPoverty

Share your Story. Spread our Mission. @ProjectBINK

PowerUp and Project Bink

With the right educational tools, children have the power to realize their full potential. They can make life better for themselves AND their communities. That’s why we all share our time, resources, and experiences in PowerUp’s programs: to give children the life-changing tools they need to succeed!

This month, we’re excited to partner with Project BINK to give you another sharing opportunity – one that will help even more kids.

We are asking you to answer a simple but important question: What was your life changing moment?

Think about why children’s education is important to you. Think about what made you get involved in PowerUp’s programs. Then, just record your story in a 2-4 minute video (Phone cameras welcome!).

By sharing your story, you will help others see the importance of childhood education, and encourage them to get involved. You will help spread PowerUp’s mission – and ensure that more kids receive the educational tools they need.

If you have a life changing moment, now’s the time to share it!

Share your story today!

You could win a trip to Hollywood!
Every 100th entry wins a GoPro Camera.

Kids Graduating with Technology

By Liza Wisner, Founder of PowerUp

My kids are so amazing. They consistently surprise me by doing and saying amazing things. However, the way in which they are learning to do and say things has been changing rapidly since the dawn of the new millennium.

From the moment they take their first steps, kids begin taking advantage of the vast number of apps and unlimited access to rich content made possible by the technological advances of the previous decade.

For example, 70% of children between 2 and 5 years old can operate a computer mouse, while only 11% of those same children can tie their shoes.

I love children and I am thrilled to have started two organizations, Texas Techies anchored by PowerUp, which provide children with hands-on technology education so that they may start exploring the technological wonders of the 21st century as early as possible. It has been a delightful journey watching my own children master iPads as they conquer their earliest years of schooling. I can’t begin to imagine what kind of computing magic they’ll be capable of when they’re all grown up.

Technology surrounds us in our daily lives. Of the books a child reads in a year, 24 are now read on a tablet whereas only 15 are read in print. While technology has been in front of us at work and at home for quite some time, it’s now so ubiquitous that we bring it with us wherever we go thanks to innovations in mobility and ease of use. It often makes our lives easier once we make that initial leap to become comfortable with something new. I think this is the driving force behind my passion for technology. I see it as a wonderful new way to improve the lives and education of children, which are no doubt the other two things I cherish most.

Children become comfortable with new technologies way faster than adults, as the younger and younger generations are born into an increasingly advanced world. Children truly are ‘digital natives.’ We should embrace this and encourage a philosophy of optimism and empowerment when addressing the challenges of reaching children who are at-risk of falling behind in the digital age due to inadequate access to quality tech tools and tech ed.

The average number of computers per K-12 schools in America grew from 90 to 194 computers per classroom from 1998 to 2012. One and a half million iPads are deployed in classrooms around the country. Students with access to an iPad will find 20,000 apps for education and 50,000 free lectures, books, and videos. Things are getting better, but there’s always room for further improvements. LearnStuff has developed an insightful image to convey the most interesting changes in technology in the context of education.

With technology advancing so rapidly year by year, we parents and education professionals must work together to make sure we are best serving our children as they enter the world of touch screens and global interconnectivity. They are the next several generations of human beings who will lead us as we turn the corner of the next technological revolution – and in the 21st Century, you can be sure we will see many such revolutions!

Graduating-with-Technology (1)

PowerUp Launch Video

Our vision is simple, it is clear and it is the way of the future.

“I believe that the value of children is grossly underestimated and I would like to have the opportunity to show that in fact, children are the most valued asset in the world. What I love most about my business idea is that it has great potential of protecting children from abuse and neglect and instead offering children the opportunity to quality education that can provide them with healthy and productive lives.” ~Founder, Liza Mucheru Wisner

Chit Chat for Facebook to Protect Children and Their Privacy

Did you know that there is a Facebook application that can protect your children and their privacy?

The system is called Chit Chat. It allows you to access Facebook chat on your desktop, and they recently partnered with United Parents to launch “Chit Chat: United Parents”. United Parents is a solution that allows parents to protect their children online whilst respecting their privacy.

The United Parents system analyses behavioural parameters of online chats to identify and flag potential predators, cyber bullies, as well as self inflicted threats. In the short time since its launch, the system has identified issues on a variety of issues, ranging from suicide related discussions to sexual conversations with strangers.

chitchatIt is designed around the idea of a “digital fingerprint,” the idea that a person’s behavior online is predictable and that phrases, grammar, sentence construction, and other details can be used to identify an individual regardless of the screen name he is using or the computer he has signed in on. So, when a child is messaging with friends on Chit Chat and a user begins chatting with the child, the system compares the content of the messages to a database of flagged offenders to see if the digital fingerprints match.

Chit Chat for Facebook is an instant messaging application that integrates with Facebook to provide enhanced chat functionality. The Facebook tool has received wide praise for its aesthetics, ease of use, and streamlined user interface. The decision to integrate with United Parents Child Protection Service now adds enhanced online security to the long list of positives that have made Chit Chat so successful.

UnitedParentsLogoUnited Parents Child Protection Service is a leading provider of a solution for parents who want to protect their children online while respecting their privacy. Because children have more social interaction online than almost anywhere else, it has become necessary for parents to be proactive about protecting children from unsavory elements. The system analyzes behavioral parameters of online chats to identify and flag potential predators or cyber bullies as well as self-inflicted threats. In the short time since its launch, the system has issued alerts on variety of issues, ranging from suicide-related discussions to sexual conversations with strangers. The founders. The founders of United Parents developed the Child Protection Software to safeguard their own children and hit upon the idea that a community approach would offer enhanced protection.

Daniel Offer, Managing Director at Athena IT Limited explains that the IT firm is “concerned about online privacy as well as security. This is one of the reasons that we have partnered with United Parents. The Child Protection Service from United Parents was designed with privacy in mind from its inception. Parents want to give their children freedom while still protecting them from potential danger; United Parents and Chit Chat for Facebook make that possible.”

The combination of Chit Chat for Facebook and United Parents Child Protection Services offers the following features:
Child’s Summary Dashboard – A continuously updated analysis of the child’s online behavior including time online, demographic information of people communicating with child, social networks and instant messaging services used, and top subjects discussed.
Alerts – Alerting the parent of the child if/when a child gets into trouble online.
Digital Graphology™ – Automatic predator tracking and blocking software using “digital fingerprints.”
Monthly Reports – Snapshots of child’s online behavior that is sent to parents via email.

Rather than providing parents access to private conversations or emailing them complete transcripts, the system instead provides a streamlined overview of chat content based on things listed above. It also provides a simple display of how risky the child’s online behavior is compared to a standard model. This means the children need not fear that their parents are reading private conversations, but it also means that parents can start a dialogue with children regarding potentially dangerous communications.

The makers of Chit Chat realized that when children have face to face interactions, parents are aware of who the child is interacting with and who the child’s friends are, which allows parents to assess how safe it is for a child to interact with a given individual. The same abilities to assess safety and get to know who a child is friends with were not available online until now. With United Parents, the goal is to get to know what a child is doing without invading his or her privacy.

Just like parents can get to know whether a friend is trustworthy without invading privacy, so too can parents get to know who an online friend is with the integration of United Parents and Chit Chat for Facebook.

You can find out more about Chit Chat from:
You can find more about United Parents from:

Winner Announced: Texas Techies Animator 2011

Texas Techies Organization, Grande Communications andCelebration Nation proudly hosted the Texas Techies Animator 2011, a competition where we invite all area school children (Kindergarten – 12th Grade) to create an animation using the software Scratch.
For this year’s competition, the challenge was centered around a single theme,”The Oceans”, and we allowed the animators a great amount of creativity in their interpretation and execution of that theme.

Over 200 Corpus Christi area school children participated in the Texas Techies Animator 2011 competition and spent the past two months creating their own animations, games, stories, art and music for submission to the Texas Techies Animator 2011 competition.

Forty-Nine (49) projects were successfully submitted and qualified in the semi-finals.  11 students made the final cut and were selected as the finalists.


Congratulations to Ryan De Leon, 11th Grade student in Ms. Katherine Hewitt’s class at Richard King High School for winning the Texas Techies Animator 2011 Competition.  There were a lot of great entries this year, but Ryan De Leon won over the judges with his wonderful drawings, coding, and sincere performance during the showcase.

In recognition of his efforts, Grande Communications awarded Ryan with a brand new Samsung laptop computer. Ryan also won a “Be Our Guest” Prize pack fromWhataburger.

Click here to play the winning game and other finalists’ entries…>>

Position Name School Name Grade Teacher Project Submitted
Brand New Samsung Laptop Computer from Grande Communications and Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Ryan De Leon King High School 11th K. Hewett Scuba Diver Dave
Velocity Micro Android Tablet from Grande Communications and Whataburger “Be Our Guest” Prize 
Chris Shoemake King High School 12th K. Hewett Shark Assault
$50 Best Buy Gift Card from Grande Communications and Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Stephanie Tiet King High School 12th K. Hewett Krillian the Krab: Scurry the Seas
$25 Best Buy Gift Card from Grande Communications and Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Matthew Rodriguez Flour Bluff High School 10th S. Speed Dragons of the Nordic Seas
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Candice Longoria King High School 12th K. Hewett Find the Critters
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Avery Henderson King High School 10th K. Hewett Shark Frenzy
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Josh Mireles King High School 11th K. Hewett Slaughter Water
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Daniel Ruiz King High School 10th K. Hewett Atlantis: Revenge of Garcius
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Chris Clark King High School 12th K. Hewett Treasure Cruise
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Alyssa Meza King High School 11th K. Hewett Bubble Maz
Whataburger “Be our Guest” Prize
Minh Le King High School 10th K. Hewett Ocean
DISTINGUISHED TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARD: Ms. Katherine Hewitt, Richard King High School
OUTSTANDING TEACHER AWARDS: Ms. Julia Ray, Miller High School & Ms. Shayd Speed, Flour Bluff High School
  • Steve Alves – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Cyber Defense Team
  • Cayce Berryman – Animator 2009 Winner & Marine Biology Student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
  • Annette Davila – Young Business Professionals of the Coastal Bend
  • Celia Garza – Certified Business Advisor II,Small Business Development Center
  • Rick Geiter – KIIITV Channel 3
  • Nikola Knez – President, iFilms LLC
  • Claudia Lichtenberger – Technology Instructor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School
  • Crystal Reyna – Texas Publishing Co Ltd
  • Dr.Laura Rosales – Director, ELITE Graduate Program
  • Grande Communications
  • Celebration Nation
  • Whataburger
  • Jamba Juice
  • Click N Kids
  • CASA of the Coastal Bend
  • Richard King High School
  • Miller High School
  • Moody High School Minds in Motion Animation Club
  • Flour Bluff High School
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Computer Science Program
  • Mary Kay Cosmetics by Maxie Dennis
  • VIP Limousine

Ongata Rongai Primary School Visit

On November 24, 2010 PowerUp visited Ongata Rongai Primary School in Kenya.

Ongata Ronkai Primary School is a public school started in the year 1949 occupying an area of about 12 acres. Its classes are from Std 1 to 8 which are government sponsored.

We found that the school had no electricity. Most of the students were from the Kware slum. Many who complete primary school have nowhere to go.

There are enough books and teachers but challenges are faced in school transport, food, sanitation, water, electricity, uniforms. Students number about 1,400.

Let’s get started today!
You’re doing a great job!
Thank you HP!
Yes! We will do this!
Passion is the driver for success!
Warm welcomes and beautiful dances.
Community Collaborations are the key to the success.

Anajali Primary School in Kibera Slum

PowerUp visited Anajali Primary School in Kibera to demonstrate the impact technology integration can have on a community. Anajali Primary School is located at the edge of the Kibera slum in Nairobi occupying an area of about 1 acre. It was founded in the year 2000 by Pastor Wellingtone Nabwoba. It has 11 classes from pre-school to standard 8 with a total of 500 students. 95% of its students are from the slum. The children are given 1 meal a day.

Spreading the message of community engagement
Donations from Partners
Let’s get to work!

Texas Techies Animator 2009 TV and Radio Ad

Attention Young digital Artists!

Texas Techies has opened the 2009 computer animator competition to all area school children under 17.

Great prizes include best buy gift cards, livescribe pen, laptop computer and more.

Register and submit your entries by November 1st.

Mayor Joe Adame will be guest of honor and judge.

For more information call 361-774-7454 or visit

Texas Techies Animator 2009 is brought you by grande communications, Texas A&M Corpus Chisti, Moody High School Minds in Motion and The City of Corpus Christi.