Part of the Initialize’s (init) mission is to provide a positive and collaborative environment for all computer science/engineering civic engagement projects. This mission is pursued through one of our founding goals: to develop software tools for RSOs, non-profits, and other groups that would not have access otherwise.
These projects help members develop technical and professional skills, including computer science and engineering, full-cycle software development, teamwork, and project management skills. The goal of init development teams is to connect non-profits and other charitable entities with the technical talent that they would otherwise not have access to. In turn, the organizations provide members with the opportunity to practice their technical talents with real stakeholders and objectives. This provides members with valuable and unique experiences that are difficult to gain in a classroom setting.
Init also aims to provide some of the best hands-on experience that one can receive outside of an internship or full-time job. As such, development teams are partnered with industry mentors so that members can gain insight from professionals who have practiced the skill for many years. This gives members the opportunity to learn best practices, software design, software development methodologies, and project management—all from someone knowledgeable in the practice.
If you are a group or organization looking for technical talent to help solve a problem you’re facing, then Initialize (init) may be able to help. We are a talented group of college students who enjoying using our skills to improve the community we live in. To see if we can help, please fill out this form so we can get a better idea of what problem your group or organization is facing.
Summary: Collaborate is a platform designed to provide development and teamwork experience to students across UNL. Using keyword search, people will be able to post, message about, and view project ideas from students. These could be small projects, or an idea for a company. Students who know what skills are needed to make their project come to life, but don’t have access to those skills, will be connected with people who have the skills and express interest in the category the project is listed under.
Current Status: Collaborate is in the early stages of development. It will experience a lot of evolution and changes before launch.
Anticipated Launch Date: Fall 2019.
VITA TAX WEBSITE
Summary: One of the software development projects right now is for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) coalition—an initiative by the Center for Civic Engagement on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. This initiative prepares taxes for low-income individuals, international students, and other Lincoln residents. VITA currently runs ten physical tax preparation locations in the Lincoln area during the tax season, and it helps prepare over 3,000 taxes every year.
As the VITA initiative has grown so large over the last few years, it has had a problem with scheduling and managing appointments using a spreadsheet tracking system. So, init has partnered with VITA to develop a new system for appointment scheduling and management. Members of init are currently developing a PHP web application to streamline the appointment signup and management processes which will help clients schedule appointments and help VITA volunteers keep track of where people are at in the tax preparation process.
This project began in October 2016 and successfully helped VITA schedule and manage over 2,300 appointments during the 2018 tax season. Init estimates that this web solution saved VITA nearly 40 hours of volunteer time scheduling appointments during 2018. Additionally, the site significantly reduced the number of appointments scheduledfor wrong preparation locations. Init continues to improve the website as VITA prepares for the 2019 tax season.
Current Status: initial release complete, under development for enhancements.
Contact: for more information, feel free to contact Matthew Meacham through email.
Here is a link to the site: VITA Website