Category Archives: Charity

Help Me Introduce Rural 100,000 Students to Technology

I didn’t know when I was growing up in rural western Kentucky that just by virtue of living where I did that I was disadvantaged. I grew up poor, but so did all my friends and as rough as I had it, I knew people who had it worse. The fact is that people growing up in rural areas are significantly more likely to be unemployed, live in poverty, become disabled due to poor health, and die early. I didn’t know that all these things were working against me.

At a young age, I was introduced to computers. This initial spark of interest led me to write software, learn how to connect computers into networks, and use technology to enrich my life and the lives of those around me. A few teachers recognized my interest and helped me turn that spark into a sustained interest that eventually led to a college degree and a career in computer technology. The fate that I seem predestined for was not to be, and it was because of that initial spark and the opportunity to pursue it. Sadly, this spark is too often missed or never cultivated.

I started the RTF to introduce other young people to technology so that it could change their lives in the same way it changed mine. So far, we’ve been able to do that with great success. In 2017 alone, we’ve been able to introduce just over 28,000 rural students to technology careers by equipping their schools with things like Chromebooks, Raspberry Pi’s, Robotics Kits, 3D Printers, and more. While our progress this year has been tremendous, we’ve got more work to do.

We want to reach 30,000 students in 2017 and 100,000 total students within the next two years. These are massive goals and represent tremendous impact. Our goal is to introduce students to the potential of technology careers so that we can help end the generational poverty that has defined their lives. Through this, we hope to bring greater economic impact to rural areas and help decrease the massively unequal distribution of wealth between rural areas and their urban counterparts.

We need your help to reach this goal. The month of December is our most important month for fundraising as it helps us meet our year-end goals and begin the new year with momentum. If we’re going to reach 100,000 students we need your contribution. With this, you have our guarantee that 100% of your donation will go straight to the classroom. We are an entirely volunteer-led organization, which means we pay no salaries. Your donation will have direct, tangible impact.

There are several ways to help:

  • One Time Donation: A one time gift can be made via check or PayPal. A PayPal account is not required to make an online gift. You can do so here:
  • Recurring Donation: A recurring gift helps us better plan our charitable work. As a part of contributing to our Patreon, you’ll get exclusive updates about work we’re doing in classrooms all over the country. You do so here:
  • Amazon Smile: As you’re doing your holiday shopping considering doing so through Amazon Smile. When you select the RTF as your charity of choice, Amazon will contribute a portion of your purchase price directly to us.

The Rural Technology Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization, which means your donations are tax deductible.

I didn’t know what I had working against me when I was growing up in a rural area. Now I know, and we’re working to change the future for kids like me. I hope you’ll join us. We can’t do it without your help.

The AND Student Charitable Profit Sharing Program

When I decided to launch Applied Network Defense, I did so with the intention of using it as a platform for making positive change in the world. We do that through our primary business model of educating people so that they can further their careers and secure their works. We also do that by donating a portion of every course purchase to charity. Thus far, those donations have helped introduce tens of thousands of kids to computer science education and save lives by outfitting entire villages in Africa with mosquito nets.

It’s time for the next evolution of our mission, and that is a student charitable profit sharing program. Now, AND students will have a say in where a portion of their course proceeds go. Periodically, AND students will have the opportunity to submit a charity to receive a donation. After nominations have been received, the collective group will vote and we will select 2-5 winners to receive a donation.

If you are a current or former student of mine, I want you to know that my life is enriched by having been able to interact with you. Now, I’m thrilled to be able to help you contribute to causes that matter to you as well. It’s very important that people who purchases training from AND know that they aren’t just educating themselves by doing so, they are enriching the lives of others too. This is another way for us to do that, together.


Rural Tech Fund Shirts

If you’re looking for a fun way to support the Rural Technology Fund, we’ve got shirts now! Our new “This Shirt Fights Poverty” shirt does exactly what the name says. All proceeds from the store go to support computer science education in rural and high-poverty classrooms.

You can grab your shirt here:

We have plenty of sizes, styles, and colors available.

If you bought a shirt, I’d love to see it! Take a picture and post it to the Rural Tech Fund Facebook page or tag on @RuralTechFund on Twitter!

Training Course Scholarships

I’m glad to announce that I’m offering full scholarships for my online training courses to individuals employed by non-profit human services organizations. These are given out based on availability, and each application is evaluated individually by me. This covers the courses listed on my training page, and is my way of serving those who are helping others.

To apply, visit this link and fill out the application:

Making an Impact with Local Security Conferences

Student's Using OSMO Coding Kits

Student’s Using Donated OSMO Coding Kits

Running a non-profit is really tough sledding. It requires a complex balance of spending just enough to raise awareness, while ensuring that the donations you are bringing in are substantial enough to make a positive impact on the world. The absolute best way to ensure success is to partner with other people who are like minded and willing to help.

I’m excited to announce a recent effort resulting from a partnership between the Rural Tech Fund and the great folks who run the Archcon security conference. One of the organizers, Paul, contacted me a month or so ago and asked if the RTF could use the funds generated from the conference to do some positive things in rural and low income areas in Missouri. We made the commitment (as I do with all donations to the RTF) that we would use 100% of the donation to donate equipment to school districts in the area. With that money, we were able to do the following:

  • Robotics and Ardunio kits in the St. Louis / Mehlville area. 
  • Programming kits in Gladstone, MO
  • Robotics and Ardunio kits in Essex, MO. 
  • Electronics kits in Saint Charles, MO
  • Chromebooks for programming classes in the St. Louis / Jennings area
  • Circuitry and robotics kits in the St. Louis / Mason area
  • Raspberry Pi kits in Independence, MO
  • Robotics and coding kit to El Dorado Springs, MO

With a relatively small amount of money, we were able to make donations that will directly impact around 600 students across Missouri. By utilizing giving networks like Donors Choose and matching funds from organizations like the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the value of the money was maximized to ensure reach to the most number of students.

Don’t just hear about the impact from me though, take it from a couple teachers in these classrooms:

“I am humbled and grateful for the generous donation from the Rural Technology Fund. It will be thrilling to watch the students interact with their new technology and enhance their creative potential. Expressing my thanks does not relay the full measure of emotions at this moment. I am incredibly appreciative…to the point of tears.” – Dr. Flynn (St. Louis)

“Thank you so much for seeing my vision for my students. Your contribution to my class will forever impact the students. To know that one person’s generosity can change the lives of others is the greatest gift ever. Your contribution will bring to STEM to life in my class”. – Ms. Jefferson (Jennings, MO)

While Archcon already had a tangible impact in the security community, this ensured that the conference will have a lasting impact that pays dividends for underprivileged students in the state, as well as for the overall economy of the state.

It’s sometimes hard to find massive wins like this, but this is one I’m very proud to be a part of. I want to thank Paul Jaramillo and the folks who organized and participated in Archcon. It’s a fine conference and I plan to attend myself next year.

If you run a security conference and want to help connect your conference to your community and make a similar impact, please reach out to me. Your donation is tax deductible and I’ll commit to using 100% of it to support technology education. The RTF is a volunteer led organization, so nothing will be eaten up by administrative costs.