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Seniors Start Nonprofit

Mt. Hebron students are dreaming big with the creation of TeCanal, a student-run nonprofit community service group. The company was founded by seniors Handa Chun, Robert Jett and Dhivyan Karunakaran and junior Hanseung Chun, who connected over a shared love of technology. They now serve as the company’s board of directors.

The company is named TeCanal to represent the purpose of the company: to share technological learning with the less fortunate. It was derived from the words tech and canal, which speak to the company’s mission of distributing technology for education to children of lower income areas.

TeCanal was created in order to distribute computers to lower income communities and to provide the beneficiaries with the necessary training to use the resources provided. The training is given to children in these areas in order to stimulate an interest in STEM education.

Founder Chun believes that he himself became interested in technology when he was first exposed to computers.

“[It] shut down every so often and was older than me, but the joy of being able to use the computer was immense,” Chun said, describing his first device. “I want to spread that joy with those who can’t afford to do so.”

Even though there is currently only a small body of personnel available, training has already begun. On Oct. 23, TeCanal employees went to the Mattie B. Uzzle Outreach Center in Baltimore City to work with elementary school children. According to those who went, the event was a success.

“I saw one kid who was very interested, and that showed me we really were doing something,” said senior Shayan Siahpoushan.

TeCanal is currently made up of only five members, including the board of directors. Though this number may seem small, it is important to realize that this is a lot of employees considering that it was only legitimized as a nonprofit earlier this year. The long process of becoming a nonprofit incorporated company under Maryland’s Department of Assessment and Taxation involved meeting with a panel of government employees to gain nonprofit status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“Basically a couple of months of file work and then some more file work,” explained Chun. However, all the members agree that the struggle was worth every second once TeCanal made its first delivery of two computers to a church in Washington, D.C.

The current board has high hopes for TeCanal’s future with plans in the works to expand their services. Mt. Hebron’s members are encouraging people from other schools and regions to start their own chapter of TeCanal. In the future, they hope to expand by utilizing members’ contacts in other countries and facilitate the expansion of TeCanal’s program outward into international markets

About the rationale behind this inspiring goal, Chun stated, “We want the organization not only to be a method of teaching how to use a computer, but a method of reaching out and showing the students a world of possibilities and opportunities that they can become a part of. We want success stories from our program, not just a short-lived after-school activity.”

There are no limits to the plans of these Mt. Hebron students because their main goal is to share the opportunity to learn using modern tools with as many people as possible.

TeCanal is currently hiring, looking specifically for more high-performance, people-oriented employees with the motivation to teach under certain criteria. They need candidates from the junior year to ensure success next year as well. Anyone who is interested and motivated is encouraged to join. The company occasionally meets after school as an activity and takes work trips to outreach centers in Baltimore to teach children how to use computers.

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