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President’s Report, May 14, 2024

Summer coming
Hey y’all!  I hope you are enjoying the excellent weather.  I’m really enjoying living in a green world after the winter of grey sticks.   And, as you will see, things are warming up in  Innovate Chatham.

Chatham Tech Talk

3d Modeling

On April 29, Erin Denniston gave an excellent short course on 3D modeling and printing.  The class was fully subscribed with a mix of ages, including a couple of school kids.  Erin provided helpful notes if you want more information about 3D modeling and printing.

Social Meeting

Innovate Chatham will host a social meeting for all of you, our other techy friends, and any Chatham neighbors at Fair Game Beverage, 5 pm on May 23.

Chatham Broadband

Don’t miss June 13, 5 pm at 79°West, when Brenton Hart will present his “State of Chatham Broadband” story and answer your questions about internet availability and grants for various areas of Chatham.


Digital Inclusion

Chatham Digital Inclusion Plan

The County will hold a 3-hour meeting for the Chatham County Digital Inclusion Plan to give all the agencies and community partners a chance to run through the plan and discuss the plan for adoption.  They are organizing the meeting for mid-June and are currently deciding on the best date.

Digital Champion Grant

The State received our grant proposal to install several free WiFi locations in Chatham.  We are still waiting for the grant winners’ announcement at the end of May to see if they will fund our public WiFi proposal.


We provided a hotspot for a student in December so that they could complete their homework and catch up with their class. We received feedback that the student has worked hard and their grades much improved. We found that the process of acquiring mobile hotspots at a discount through another nonprofit is a lengthy one. So, we have purchased two hotspots to be ready for opportunities when they arise. We will attempt to have at least one in reserve to be able to meet such needs quickly. We may already have another student that needs help.

STEM Education


Erin Denniston and I met with Tori Sylvestre in the SparkLab in Siler City (in the Chatham School of Science and Engineering building).  Tori is a very experienced educator and has just come on board with this program, which SparkNC funds.  The program will help STEM by emphasizing “students’ durable skills and engagement with real-world challenges.”

More info on the SparkNC program.

Website of the SparkLab in Chatham

Career Presentations

Our first opportunity to help SparkLab will be providing career talks during their Summer IT Intern program in July.  Please let me know if you have an interesting tech-related career you would like to share with some bright high-schoolers.  We are trying to share multiple potential career paths with them and show them how they must look for opportunities to adapt and learn to make successful careers.  July 8-25, M-Th, afternoons.  

Congressional App Challenge

The Congressional App Challenge is an annual contest organized by the US Congress and the Internet Education Foundation.

We want to help any Chatham kids enter the Congressional App Challenge.  To that end, I am hosting a Zoom meeting for anyone interested on May 18 at 7 pm

Please pass this on to any potentially interested parents!

Here is the Zoom link for the event.

The Challenge is to build an app (meaning a software application).  The main rules for the students are:

  • Your Congressional District must participate, and they are. I think all of Chatham is in the current NC District 9, but it may be that some people are in District 4, which is also participating.
  • You have to be in middle or high school in that District, either based on your school or residence, on October 24, 2024
  • You have to have built your app after November 1, 2023
  • You have to make a 3-minute video explaining your app
  • You can be a team of 1, 2, 3, or 4
  • You have all summer: the contest ends on October 24, 2024

The app can be:

  • any language
  • any topic
  • any kind of app

If you *enter*, you get a letter from your congressperson plus bragging rights that you entered an app in the Congressional App Challenge.

If you *win* in your District, you will be featured on the site, invited to a celebration on Capitol Hill in DC, and maybe win some other prizes.

Only a handful of Chatham students have entered over the past few years.  The level of expertise required to enter the contest is very low, and the knowledge needed to win at the District level might not be as high as you think. 

Here is the winner for 2023:

ClassConnect wins Rep. Richard Hudson’s 2023 Congressional App Challenge in North Carolina’s Ninth District

Much more info is available at the challenge site:

On Zoom on May 18 at 7 pm I will answer your questions and provide tips on creating apps for entry. 

  • How to enter
  • How your entry will be judged
  • The most accessible types of apps to build
  • Suggestions for app-building environments and learning resources
  • Where to start

Volunteer Opportunities

We are always interested in having additional volunteers.  In most cases, we prioritize opportunities based on volunteer interest.  So, let me know if you would like to help with any of these things, or you can suggest possibilities for us to help:

  • We would like to have some events to teach or demonstrate skills. Skills could be practical or artful.  Please let me know if you have ideas about what you want to learn or if you know someone who might want to teach or demonstrate.
  • Technical topic presentation – we need topic and presenter suggestions for Tech Talk
  • Instructor’s aides for basic computer classes
  • Tech Career Fairs – we always need a list of people to describe and discuss their tech careers at various high schools.
  • Science Fairs Judges – needed for Fall and spring to judge science and engineering projects while encouraging kids
  • Congressional App Challenge – we would like to help middle and high schoolers build their own simple software app to submit for recognition in a contest.  
  • Search engine optimization help, and social media help

Please let me know, and we can chat further about your interests.

You are very welcome to share this newsletter with anyone you like.

If you enjoy being part of the Innovate Chatham community, please consider submitting an annual membership contribution of $25 for 2024. 

Not a member?  If you like our work at Innovate Chatham, please consider joining us as a paid member, which helps us cover the expenses of running a nonprofit.

Burney Waring
Innovate Chatham President

Innovate Chatham




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