On July 31, Computers 2 Kids, along with support from Cox Communications is collecting and refurbishing tech devices through the “Back-to-School Computer and E-waste Drive Through Event” computer drive to meet the need of San Diego County students. San Diego residents and businesses are asked to donate computers, laptops, and tablets that they no longer use, but can be refurbished for low-income families and kept out of landfills.
With the shutdown of in-person learning the San Diego County Office of Education affirmed that one in four students began at-home learning without access to a computer, 50% of low-income families still have no access to a computer or internet at home, and 95% of schools started this fall with remote learning only.
Computers 2 Kids CEO Cheri Pierre said C2K is a nonprofit refurbisher with the purpose of providing affordable technology to disadvantaged families. She said it gets technology from corporate donors, individuals, electronic drives, partnerships with school districts, as they retire their electronics.
“They send it to us and then we start processing it by, first, is it a computer that can be used in our technology assistance program. If not, we find a way to sanitize first and then reuse,” she said. “If I get a bank of computer servers from a corporation it will not help going into a family’s home, but there are a lot of small businesses that cannot afford a brand new server. We will partner with companies that deal with refurbished servers and 100% of those funds from those items goes into the refurbishing process of the systems we do distribute.”
Pierre said out of every 500,000 pounds of electronics it receives, only about 150,000 pounds get recycled for end of life and the rest it finds a way to reuse. She said 100% of generated revenue for these sources go directly into its programs and help with the refurbishing and distribution of computers to low-income families.
“The drive is important because since COVID, the shutdown of schools on March 16, 2020, C2K has distributed over 45,000 computers to families in need,” she said. “Not only here in San Diego, but all over the United States. There are other refurbishers and C2K is in the top 10 as far as volume and we were blessed and fortunate enough to enter the pandemic with inventory in stock that we were then able to refurbish.”
Pierre said even though schools are opening again, and that the world seems to be going back to normal, that there is still about 22% of the nation’s population that does not have access to a working computer and/or internet. “That is what C2K is trying to do,” she said.
Pierre said this drive is a call to the community to help it prepare for back to school, ensuring it has enough electronics donated so it can continue to fulfill that need and to make sure every student in the county is connected.
Pierre said the fact that this drive is hosted with Cox Communications, it is really important because Cox has offered affordable internet with its Connect2Compete program for years. She said C2K and Cox has a unique relationship that pre-COVID they were going out in the community together distributing computers and signing up for discounted internet directly in the communities.
“Families that could not get to our location, we were getting it to them,” she said. “We have been doing that together since 2012 and they have been extremely supportive in making sure that our families get connected to the internet.”
Pierre said it is working with Cox nationally to provide computers through the EBB program as part of the stimulus package for COVID.
“We are ensuring that families in rural areas that might not have access to us, still get a computer,” she said. “If a person cannot get a computer from us, we will ship a computer to them and we have a large shipping department now. We have been shipping hundreds and hundreds per day.”
Pierre said its computer systems come with software and free technical support.
“Our families, if they have a problem with their computer, the call us and we fix it. If we cannot fix it, we replace it,” she said. “So, we keep the families connected.”
Pierre said in response to COVID, C2K developed a technology assistance program app and are in the final stages of BETA testing, but by next month the app will be available on Android and Apple that will allow anyone, regardless of where they are, to apply for a computer.
“Even if there is not a C2K program in their area they will still have access,” she said. “We do all of this on a combined 3.71% net management and fundraising overhead, which is extremely low for nonprofits, which are normally around 20%.”
Pierre said this is a great way for people to take their electronics, any, working or non-working, except major appliances, and it will take it and put it to good use and keep it out of the landfills and help students and their family stay connected to their schooling.
Pierre said C2K takes sanitation of people’s information seriously. Its facility is a secured facility, armed and under electronic surveillance.
“Any item that comes in that has a hard drive on it, and that includes printers and copiers, we sanitize all information bases on Department of Defense standards,” she said. “Once it is sanitized, all the information is off it, we then load our own Microsoft software on it. We are not even reusing licenses registered to you. So, that system is completely sanitized and reimaged before it goes out the door. Even setting your computer back to manufacture settings, that is not secure enough, so we pull the hard drive out and we have a sanitation server bank. We put the hard drive in, run it through a DOD program, and sanitize it before that hard drive is put into a system.”
Computers can be dropped off Saturday, July 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cox Communications’ main campus parking lot, 5159 Federal Blvd., San Diego, Calif. 92105.
The drive will continue Monday through Friday, Aug. 2-6 at Cox Stores in Chula Vista, Escondido and Santee at the following locations.
Cox Store / Chula Vista — 511 Telegraph Canyon Rd., Chula Vista, Calif. 91910
Cox Store / Santee — 9349 Mission Gorge Rd., Santee, Calif. 92071
Cox Store / Escondido — 1264-A Auto Park Way, Escondido, Calif. 92029
For information, visit www.c2sdk.org/coxconserves.
For more information about Cox Communications Connect2Compete program visit https://bit.ly/3iK2qRE.