My name is Michael Guggenheim. I am 18 years old, and a senior at Mounds Park High School in St Paul, MN. When I was just five years old, I was diagnosed with Dysgraphia, which is a motor processing problem which makes it difficult and painful for me to write and to get my thoughts out on paper (as further defined by the International Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Association). The tool that allowed me to overcome this challenge was learning how to use a laptop with advanced computer skills at a very young age. This caused me to want to share this tool with all children so that they too could have the future they want. Nowadays if you do not know how to type or have basic computer skills, it is difficult to get a good job and you will be left behind in the world. These skills are easier to learn when you are young. For example, I began to use programs such as excel, word and power point in my school papers and math assignments as early as third grade, but many adults are unable to do this. Many disadvantaged kids and teenagers do not have early opportunity and access to learning and using these computer skills and it is difficult to catch up later.
My mission since the summer before 6th grade has been to provide computers and learning software to children in shelters, low income, residential projects and community centers because they might not otherwise have enough opportunities to learn how to use these tools. My other mission is to be able to give every child I tutor a laptop when his/her family leaves a transitional living center to a home of their own.
In the summer of 2007, I formed the non-profit, 501 (c) corporation named S.P.L.A.T. -- Showing People Learning and Technology. Through SPLAT's operations, I have been reaching my goals successfully for over six years. My Articles of Incorporation have been stamped by the CA Secretary of State and can be provided to all potential donors as proof of SPLAT's status and intent. Also, I have a federal Trademark registration for SPLAT. I was approved by the I.R.S. as an exempt corporation under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and SPLAT's Federal Tax Identification No. is 26-0642173, and my donors can receive a charitable tax credit on their tax reports. My initial website, from 2007-2011 is still on line and can be viewed at wordpress.org, however, with my student volunteer team, I created a new SPLAT website in fall of 2012, which you can visit at splatcharity.org.
Since 2007, I personally have tutored students every week, first at LAFH and at Upward Bound in Los Angeles, CA, where I gave away dozens of laptops and learning software to successful SPLAT students. After my move to Minnesota in 2010, SPLAT continued its operations in Los Angeles at LAFH with the assistance of student volunteers that I train, and I continue to provide laptops to the graduates. In addition, I have expanded SPLATs operations to Saint Paul and Minneapolis, MN, where I tutor students weekly at the Neighborhood House in Saint Paul and People Serving People in Minneapolis. With the generosity of SPLAT's donors, SPLAT has continued to be able to provide used laptops to its graduates in these locations as well. I continue to solicit people and companies to donate laptops, software, or money so that SPLAT can continue to give away laptops to its dedicated students. Furthermore, as a graduating High School senior, I hope to expand SPLAT's operations to the city where I attend college next year.
When you visit SPLAT's website, you can learn about what SPLAT has accomplished these past years and its plans for the future. I have received monetary donations, software, and laptop donations from many companies and people who are listed as donors in my website. When you click on Media, you can find the links to a Los Angeles Times article dated January 7, 2008, which first profiled SPLAT's work at the Los Angeles Family Housing, Transitional Living Center (LAFH), located in North Hollywood, CA. You can also use the link (or go to youtube.com and search Michael Guggenheim) and view the interviews that Good Morning America and CNN Headlines filmed about SPLAT at its inception, as well as such honors as lecturing at the Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles about Dysgraphia, and receiving the Inspiration Award from LAFH in spring 2009; my acceptance speech can be viewed on youtube or accessed through my website. I also received the honor of being named in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine 2012 Volunteer Hall of Fame. My work for SPLAT has been recognized in my community as well, causing me to receive National Honor Society membership, my schools Global Responsibility Award and allowing me to participate in the Community Volunteer Partners of Minneapolis for my involvement with the People Serving People Family Shelter. Finally, I am proud to have received the Presidents Volunteer Service Award from the United States Department of Education for my work with SPLAT, from two Presidents, both President Bush in 2007 and President Obama in 2012.
Over the past years, these kids have taught me so much and have all been so nice, polite, and so appreciative of the tutoring time and laptops they receive. After having the opportunity to work with all these great kids, I feel fortunate each time I see students walk off with laptops in their hands, and smiles on their faces.
You can read more about me and SPLAT's operations in SPLAT's website which I update regularly. You can reach me by telephone at (310) 909-4501, or by email at [email protected].
I am really grateful to LAFH, Upward Bound, People Serving People, and The Neighborhood House for allowing me the opportunity to work with their inspiring programs and imanagement. I look forward to continuing to grow SPLAT's operations to more locations and to continuing to help disadvantaged children have more affordable access to computer learning and technology in these difficult economic times.