Press Release: PCs for People Distributes Its 40,000th Computer!
PCs for People has been making a measurable impact in the lives of low-income families, individuals, children, and those with disabilities by refurbishing and distributing retired and end-of-life computers since 1998. PCs for People recently distributed their 40,000th computer, helping communities throughout the Upper Midwest. Thousands of families have also been subscribed to low cost wireless Internet and millions of pounds of electronics have been responsibly recycled.
PCs for People gave away 150 computers to families in need at the Wisconsin Job Center last Friday, July 17th, marking our first event in Eau Claire. The computers, which were donated to PCs for People from businesses and companies in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties, were free to the recipients thanks to a generous grant we received through the Otto Bremer Foundation.
"I was up here looking for a job about a week ago, and I noticed they [Wisconsin Job Center] had a flyer posted that [you] would get a free computer if you signed up," Mark Coleman said. "So, I signed up and praise God, I got one!"
We are thrilled to announce that Mille Lacs County Board has approved the motion to make PCs for People their official technology equipment recycler. Mille Lacs County is the latest Minnesota county to realize the benefits of working with PCs for People.
Our thanks go out to Technology Services Manager Michael Virnig and the entire Mille Lacs County Board including Genny Reynolds, David Oslin, Timothy Wilhelm, Phil Peterson, and Roger Tellinghuisen.
PCs for People continues to seek corporate, nonprofit, and governmental partners who generously provide end-of-life computer equipment that can be refurbished and redistributed to low-income families across the Upper Midwest.
Mille Lacs County will benefit from PCs for People services including:
Free equipment pickup
Free AAA NAID certified hard drive data sanitation
Professional asset release and transfer documentation
Impact Report detailing the successful redistribution of computers
PCs for People continues to seek corporate, nonprofit, and governmental partners who generously provide end of life computer equipment that can be refurbished and redistributed to low-income families across the Upper Midwest.
We are happy to announce that Sherburne County is one of the latest organizations to realize the benefits of working with PCs for People. According to a recent article in the Sherburne County Citizen, IT director Brian Kamman said in the past, the county tried re-selling some of its old equipment internally, without a lot of success. "We were finding the amount of labor we had dedicated to it was more expensive than anything the county was getting back."
PCs for People originally provided just the service in our name: PCs. Since opening in 2008, we pointed people to resources for Internet services, but were unable to find a low-cost option to provide at our office. Luckily in 2012 someone from the nonprofit Mobile Citizen caught a Star Tribune article featuring PCs for People and our mission. Mobile Citizen is committed to offering technology through educational and nonprofit organizations. In 2006 they had attained a 30-year agreement with Internet company Clear which provided Internet for nonprofits for as low as $10 per month, and now they wanted to partner with PCs for People.
Since PCs for People began, Executive Director Casey Sorensen has been building automated systems and tools to simplify the computer refurbishing process. These tools, such as the ability to insert a pre-loaded hard drive into a computer, enable volunteers and interns to participate in the refurbishing process, regardless of their prior tech experience, and helps them gain job and computer skills.
While attending a conference in Denver in 2014, Casey demonstrated this system to a contingent of fellow conference-goers and piqued their interest. PCs for People started to get labeled as a "market leader" in the nonprofit refurbishing sector across the U.S. One person who was particularly impressed was a board member from a Colorado-based nonprofit called Blue Star Recyclers.
The holiday season came early for PCs for People in December of 2013. We were awarded a grant by the Otto Bremer Foundation to distribute 2,400 home computers to low-income students and their families through our PCs for Kids program, affecting a total of 4,320 kids.
A pilot program launched in 2010, PCs for Kids was designed to provide home computers to families with school-aged children. Our PCs for Kids program partners with elementary schools and headstart programs to provide access to digital resources for school aged children.
Through the PCs for Kids program and thanks to Bremer grant, our PCs for People staff were able to extend the reach of our services to 7,920 people! The dedicated members of our staff traveled to twenty-one cities across Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Each city we visited had its own set of obstacles to overcome. From navigating the rugged winter terrain of these snowy Midwestern landscapes, to becoming acquainted with the unique constraints that arise out of collaborating with community members for the first time, our PCs for People staff overcame several hurdles.
If you pressed the pause button on PCs for People's work last year, you might have noticed something: we had a little help from our friends. 2014 was a year of collaboration for PCs for People. Together we chipped away at the digital divide and extended the reach of our services. Thanks in part to the Otto Bremer grant, PCs for People traveled to new cities across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.
The impact of our work is visible in the numbers. We distributed 2,400 computers to families thanks to the Bremer grant, bringing our total number of distributed computers up to 8,549 for the year. 3,300 of those computers were given to families free of charge. To put all of this into perspective, here's another stat: 60% of our recipients last year reported that they were first time home computer owners. You have to consider the implications of becoming a first time computer owner to truly understand why this number is music to our ears.