The Kansas City Fed Employer Laptop Challenge

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Employers, join with the Kansas City Fed to get used laptops into the hands of people who need them. It has never been more critical to get people connected. 

Closing the digital divide was serious work before COVID-19. It is imperative now. While the effects of the coronavirus may be seen for some time and Americans isolate themselves at home, those without computers and internet are cut off from essential services, from learning, from family and friends. The need is extreme. Nonprofit refurbishers, usually a source of free or low-cost computers for nonprofits and lower income families, are unable to meet the current demand.

Every day, good, used laptops end up in the landfill or languish in warehouses as businesses and government upgrade. There are many big, vexing, complicated issues related to COVID-19. This is not one of them. This, we can fix. 


Join us in this challenge. Here's how:

Donate gently used (or new) computers to a school or nonprofit of your choice. Check out the FAQs below for things to consider, such as how to address data security.

OR

If you’re not sure where to donate them, have data security concerns, or other questions contact us and we can connect you to a nonprofit computer refurbisher. See the FAQs below for more information about computer refurbishers, data security and other items to consider.

THEN

Share your donation on social media to spread the word and encourage other employers to join the challenge. Include a photo and use #LaptopHero so we can acknowledge your donation.

See the FAQs below for more details.

Learn how the Kansas City Fed is bridging the digital divide. See Disconnected: Seven lessons on fixing the digital divide, and sign up for our e-newsletter. Questions? Contact Jeremy Hegle

 

FAQ: Employer Laptop Challenge

About nonprofit computer refurbishers
Donating to a nonprofit computer refurbisher can be the easiest way for an employer to get surplus computers into the hands of those in need. Nonprofit computer refurbishers, such as Connecting for Good and PCs for People, refurbish donated computers and provide them to nonprofits, schools and lower income families at little to no cost. Many of them adhere to the same data destruction standards as for-profit refurbishers.

If you have found a nonprofit computer refurbisher to accept your donation
Be sure you understand how your data will be removed from the devices. Some employers remove data “in-house,” before donating, but many nonprofit refurbishers can provide this service at no cost.
Once you’ve worked out the logistics of making your donation, share news of your donation with us. Share your donation on social media to spread the word and encourage other employers to join the challenge. Be sure to include a photo and use #LaptopHero.

If you need help connecting to a nonprofit computer refurbisher
Send us an email with information about what you have to donate (quantity, type of devices, etc.) and where you’re located. We will then connect you to a nonprofit refurbisher through a partnership with The National Cristina Foundation.

While the demand is great, not every school or nonprofit can use donated computers. For those that do need devices, their hardware needs and software requirements may vary, even from one grade to the next.

Donating to a nonprofit computer refurbisher can be an easier, faster way to get your devices to those in need. In some cases, the refurbisher might be able to direct some or all of your donated computers to the school or nonprofit of your choice.

However, if you have identified a school or nonprofit which is in need of devices and is able to utilize yours without going through a nonprofit refurbisher:

  • Ensure you have the data destruction process covered (see the FAQ on data destruction for more information);
  • Arrange for the delivery of your computers;
  • Take photos, and share news of your donation with us by email; and
  • Share your donation on social media using #LaptopHero. This is a great way to encourage other employers to join the Employer Laptop Challenge.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City does not endorse any entity participating in the Employer Laptop Challenge. All participating employers are responsible for ensuring removal of data from devices donated through the Employer Laptop Challenge.

 

 

Data destruction, also known as data erasure, is a software-based method of overwriting the data. It aims to completely destroy all electronic data residing on a hard disk drive or other digital media.

Some computer refurbishers will expect you to destroy the data. Others can do it for you, often at no cost to you. Data destruction processes and standards vary. The following organizations have developed standards and certifications for data destruction and responsible recycling. Each offers a searchable list of certified recyclers and refurbishers.

As with your existing computer disposal process, it is important to ensure all of your data is removed before your computers are given a new life serving others. Be sure you understand how your data will be removed.

The primary audience for this campaign is employers, such as:

  • Businesses
  • Government agencies
  • Foundations
  • Larger nonprofits

These groups are the most likely to have what’s most needed: Gently used computers and tablets that are still fairly current. Such devices can be redeployed to others with little cost.
Employee groups and individuals can also participate, if they have gently used computers that are no more than seven years old and need little to no repair.

Is it just laptops, or can my company participate by donating desktops or other electronics? 
Desktops also are welcome and wifi hotspots are currently in high demand. Most refurbishers also take accessories, such as keyboards, mice, printers, scanners, monitors and more. There may be a charge for taking some hard-to-recycle equipment, such as monitors. If you have it, TechSoup suggests you pass along the original disks, media, Certificate of Authenticity sticker, user manual and any other documentation.

How do I know if my laptops/IT equipment are too obsolete to be helpful?
Usually, the lifespan of a computer is seven years. According to TechSoup, if your computer is less than five years old, it can probably be put to good use by someone else. If the equipment is not working or is more than five years old, it should be recycled. Computers contain materials that are hazardous to people, animals and the environment. It is important that the recycler safely remove those hazardous materials and save any that can be reused.

Can I donate my used personal equipment? 
Potentially, if your equipment is in fairly good shape and less than five years old. Check out the FAQ, What can I donate? for more information.

How will this benefit my company? 

Donating your employers’ used computers is a low-cost way you can connect those in need to education, remote healthcare, jobs and economic opportunity.
The following additional benefits draw on lists provided by: EALgreen, PCs for People, and TechSoup.

Financial benefits 

  • According to our sources, a refurbisher that is NAID AAA-certified for data wiping or destruction will virtually eliminate the chance of an expensive data breech.
  • If you donate your equipment to a nonprofit or a nonprofit recycler or refurbisher, you may be able to take a tax deduction for the value of the electronics you contribute. 

Environmental benefits

  • Refurbishing computers and accessories is many times more efficient than recycling the same gear. Keep in mind, 75% of the fossil fuels and energy used by computer are actually consumed during manufacturing. If you reuse, you’ve created a bigger return on that investment.
  •  Each 5-pound laptop took about 20,000 pounds of raw materials to make. Recycling allows the recovery of valuable materials. A refurbisher that has either the e-Stewards or the R2 Responsible Recycling certifications is audited by an independent third party to assure that they reuse or recycle every tidbit in an environmentally responsible way. 

Corporate pride and citizenship

  • You can join with other employers to help kids learn, help adults get digital skills training or apply for jobs, or help seniors stay in touch with family. Participating can boost employee engagement. It can also help to create brand loyalty. When you see the difference that your used equipment makes, you and your employees will be proud. 

Why is the Kansas City Fed doing this?
The Kansas City Fed Community Development team works to identify and raise awareness of challenges affecting lower income communities. While the effects of the coronavirus may be seen for some time and Americans isolate themselves at home, those without computers and internet service are cut off from essential services, from learning, from family and friends. Every day, good, used laptops end up in the landfill or languish in warehouses as businesses and government upgrade. Getting these computers to those in need will help alleviate the situation.

Is the Kansas City Fed endorsing participating nonprofits or companies?
No. Our goal is to help as many employers as possible find ways to give their used equipment a second life serving others. The Bank is not screening, vetting, or endorsing participating employers, computer refubishers or any organization that receives computers as a result of this campaign. We can point you, though, to groups that do certify or screen so you can be sure you have a qualified refurbisher.

I don’t need computers or have computers to donate, but I think this is a really important effort. How can I help?
You can help us inform potential donors and spread the word about the campaign. Share information on social media using #LaptopHero with your friends and family, and encourage them to help. 

If you would like more information, you can contact us here

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City does not endorse any entity participating in the Employer Laptop Challenge. All participating employers are responsible for ensuring removal of data from devices donated through the Employer Laptop Challenge.