To receive a computer from PCs for People a potential recipient must be below the 200% poverty level, have a family member with a disability, or work with a social worker. Other examples of those who could qualify:
- Adult & Child Mental Health Case Management
- Employment Services
- Medical Assistance
- Food Support or Financial Assistance
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Section 8 or other Federal Public Housing Assistance
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- The National School Lunch Program's "Free Lunch" Program
- Head Start
Individuals receiving a computer are asked to provide a small donation, usually $35-50. Many times government programs that clients are involved in will cover the donation. Another service offered to eligible individuals, even if they never received a computer from PCs for People, is affordable computer repair. Individuals can bring in any computer and have it repaired for $25 in most cases.
There are many tangible and intangible benefits to the PCs for People program. A few of them are listed below.
- Provide technology and educational software to individuals who would otherwise not have this opportunity
- Volunteers learn about technology, community service, and public interaction in a non-traditional setting while having fun
- Reuse almost 70,000 pounds of computer equipment in the next year and about 150,000 pounds in subsequent years
- Refurbishing a computer saves 5 to 20 times more energy than recycling
- Potential electronic decommissioning in the future
- Positively impacting almost 15,000 families in the next five years
- Provide the same opportunities to low-income families that are taken for granted by higher income households
- Provide an opportunity for individuals and businesses to give back to their community
- Troubled adolescents utilize PCs for People's volunteer program as a positive outlet while gaining real world job skills
- Youth receive a form of constructive entertainment at home
- Provide a source of education and employable skills to a largely unskilled target market
In the U.S. over 80% of households with an income of greater than $30,000 (36.6 million households) have a home computer yet only 37% of households with an income under $30,000 own a PC. This leaves about 10 million low income homes in the U.S. computerless. (US Census)
Beyond economic considerations, origin also plays a role in computer usage. As the chart below shows, school and total computer use remains relatively similar across all origins. However, Caucasians in the U.S. are almost twice as likely to use a computer in their home as African Americans or Hispanics. Having a computer available for home use provides a significant advantage in accessibility to information and educational opportunities.
According to the Census Bureau the numbers in Hennepin County (Minnneapolis, MN) are similar to the U.S. averages. In Hennepin County there are about 100,000 individuals below the poverty level and of the population ages 5 and over, there are almost 150,000 individuals (14%) with a disability. Using conservative numbers, if 30% of individuals below the poverty level have a home PC and the U.S. average of 60% (owning a PC) applies to those with disabilities there would be approximately 140,000 eligible individuals in Hennepin County alone. At 1.1 million Hennepin County makes approximately 1/3 of the Twin Cities metro area population, so this shows that even with out branching out of the metro area there are several hundred thousand potential individuals who could benefit from our services.
In 2008 there are 261 work days (M-F). At max production it is planned to distribute 10 computers per day. If PCs for People operates at this level for a full year just under 3,000 total computers would be distributed. At this rate it would take years to exhaust the local market.
School vs. Home
The graph below shows the percentage of children in nursery school and students in grades K-12 using computers at home and at school, by family income (U.S. Based).
The chart shows there is a vast difference in home usage as income rises, but school usage remains almost the same across every column. Optimally, the home usage would also be level across the graph. It is a goal of our program to provide the same opportunities to low-income families that are taken for granted by higher income households.
According to an article by Robert W. Fairlie in the October 2005 issue of Economics of Education Review, teenagers who have access to home computers are 6 to 8 percent more likely to graduate from high school than teens that lack access to a home computer. The article also mentions, "Home computers appear to increase high school graduation partly by reducing non-productive activities, such as school suspension and crime, among children". This theory was also supported by the Wilder Foundation local to the Twin Cities. The Wilder Foundation, among other things, runs centers for troubled youth. An employee who was questioned said the main problem the students face is that they go home from school and find an empty house with nothing to do and no supervision. A computer would give youth a source of entertainment as well as educational opportunities. It is planned to partner with organizations like the Wilder Foundation to increase community impact.