Computer Connects Quantitative Distribution Results
Summary and Computer Connects’ priority to maximize computer distribution while minimizing cost. Net Literacy is a all-volunteer nonprofit with limited resources and all volunteering and service learning is conducted by student volunteers. Most Net Literacy student volunteers are high school students, but middle schools and colleges also have Net Literacy chapters.
Net Literacy’s student executive committee made the decision that digital inclusion and digital literacy could be most effectively impacting by maximized the number of computers donated to schools, libraries, community centers, senior centers, faith based organizations, schools, and other nonprofits by standardizing the configuration. Consequently, the decision was made to provide a standard computer package that included the following:
Minimum hardware specifications:
- Dual Core processing unit (CPU)
- Minimum of 4 Gigs of RAM
- Minimum of a 2.6 Gig dual core processor
- Minimum of 160 Gig (most are 250+ Gig) hard drives
- LCD Monitor
- USB Keyboard
- USB Mice
- Two power cords
Standard Software Specifications:
- Opensource O/S
- Open Office
- Adaware (controls adware)
- Spybot (controls spyware)
- Other applications (including Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Note: all software is selected based upon the requirement that no user will incur an service fee for use of any applications.
Computer repurposing activity locations. Computers repurposing occurs (a) after school during Net Literacy chapter meetings in the school, (b) during weekends at the Computer Connects repurposing facility, (c) as a component of an academic course (e.g., IT Essentials or Independent Study courses), and (d) during summer programs.
Computer repurposing methodology. Most Net Literacy chapters use imaging, KVMs and slipstream “one click” CDs originally created by Net Literacy CTO Brian Kelley. In 2008, computer imaging was successfully tested during a summer program. In 2008, our summer Computer Connects programs used imaging to increase output and in 2010, a Net Literacy chapter constructed three racks with servers so that hundreds of computers could be repurposed using reimaging and Microsoft Server 2008 software every month.
Computer repurposing outcomes. In June 2004, Net Literacy formally established a separate program, Computer Connects, so that a specialized group of student volunteers could more efficiently repurpose computers in support of the Community Connects and Senior Connects programs.
Computer Distribution Summary
- 2016 to present – while Computer Connects continues to repurpose computers, after 14 years, the significant number of computers that we have donated, laptops and tablets schools are providing to students, decreasing prices of devices, and use of web-enabled smartphones have reduced the need for repurposes PCs within the Indiana area. Consequently, while student volunteers at schools repurpose computers every week, it has become less of an emphasis for us so that we can increase teaching computer, Internet and safety skills and as an example, help hold sessions with seniors to help them explain how to use their devices or troubleshoot their devices. We’ve also been able to develop new initiatives that reflect the problems of today – such as the growing importance of AI literacy.
- 2015 a total of 4832 computers donated to schools and nonprofits and 127 computer labs created or expanded
- 2014 a total of 5017 computers donated to schools and nonprofits and 132 computer labs created or expanded
- 2013 – a total of 5700 computers donated to schools and nonprofits and 267 computer labs created or expanded
- 2012 – a total of 5410 computers donated to schools and nonprofits and 214 computer labs created or expanded
- 2011 – a total of 5242 computers were donated to schools and nonprofits and 402 computer labs created or expanded
2010 – 390 computer labs created or expanded – and an additional 3743 computers donated to schools
2009 – 185 computer labs created or expanded – and an additional 4404 computers donated to schools
2008 – 174 computer labs created or expanded – and an additional 2766 computers donated to schools
2007 – 154 computer labs created or expanded – and an additional 322 computers donated to schools
2006 – 85 computer labs created or expanded
2005 – 92 computer labs created or expanded
- 2004 – 70 computer labs created or expanded
- 2003 – 14 computer labs created
The figures above illustrates how, with limited resources and funding sources that had specific programmatic and grant requirements, computer production often varied on a year-to-year basis. Please note that since Net Literacy is a “student-managed” nonprofit, students write all of the grants. The following summarizes explain variations in the annual production of and distribution of computers for the first nine years of Net Literacy:
2010 -first year of the three year “Net Literacy – Indiana Association of United Ways Computer Distribution Campaign” to provide 1500 to 2000 computers to at least 80 Indiana counties between 2010 to 2012. Net Literacy received $168,510 in cash funding. Some available computers were allocated to building computer labs in nonprofits rather than being donated to schools. Net Literacy also visited Hong Kong and South Africa to discuss digital inclusion good practices (no Net Literacy funds were used for any expenses associated with these travels). Net Literacy allocated $25,000 of its funding to add to its emergency reserves and $20,000 to eventually fund an employee to help coordinate operations and scale to organization. Estimated in-kind donations: $1,400,000 in computer donations, scholarships, and software.
2009 -additional Net Literacy chapters in schools increased the organization’s ability to repurpose computers to nonprofits and schools, and cash funding in the amount of $115,430 enabled Net Literacy to increase computer production while launching a new core program, Financial Connects. Net Literacy also focused its efforts working with broadband groups and trade associations providing recommendations in response to the FCC’s requests for information as they constructed the National Broadband Plan scheduled to be presented to Congress in 2010. Net Literacy met with the European Union’s Study on Digital Inclusion in Denmark to discuss world-wide digital inclusion initiatives (no Net Literacy funds were used for any expenses associated with this travel). Net Literacy allocated an additional $25,000 of its funding to add to its emergency reserves and allocated $10,000 to eventually be able to fund an employee to help coordinate operations and scale the organization. Estimated in-kind donations: $1,200,000 in computer donations, scholarships, and software.
2008 – Net Literacy began receiving surplus state computers to repurpose and donate to schools, thus significantly increasing output. With $92,344 in cash funding, Net Literacy was able to increase computer repurposing while launching the Safe Connects program. Computers donated to schools were used to (a) provide computers for students in classrooms, (b) build computer labs for remediation and accelerated programs, and (c) donate computers to K-12 students on free or assisted lunch programs working with school counselors to prioritize distribution of the computers. Net Literacy allocated $25,000 to to its emergency reserve equal to one year of cash funding and $10,000 to establish funding to hire a staff person. Estimated in-kind donations: $1,100,000 in computer donations, scholarships, and software.
2007 -Net Literacy was required to scale back its computer repurposing operations after receiving $36,989 in cash funding. Students worked to finalize Safe Connects, Community Connects, build websites for nonprofits without an online presence, and work on several other initiatives. Net Literacy was unable to allocate money to build its emergency cash reserves. Estimated in-kind donations: $400,000 for a computer repurposing facility, scholarships, computers, and software.
2006 -Net Literacy’s cash funding increased to $82,549 as it expanded its service area into Fort Wayne and other Indiana counties outside of central Indiana. The organization divided its focus to building an infrastructure to serve communities outside of its core central Indiana area. Also, student volunteers focused their attention working to research and fine-tune three new core Net Literacy programs. Net Literacy decided to establish an emergency reserve of cash funds equal to one year of operations but not more than $100,000, and allocated $25,000 for the initial funding. Net Literacy also planned to establish a fund to enable the organization to hire a staff member to help facilitate operations. Estimated in-kind donations: $300,000 for a computer repurposing facility, scholarships, computers, and software.
2005 -While Net Literacy only received $29,442 in cash funding this year, the organization focused its resources on repurposing computers to maximize the number of computer labs that could be created or expanded, so that a more holistic digital ecosystem could be constructed in its central Indiana service areas. Estimated in-kind donations: $100,000 for a computer repurposing facility, computers, and software.
2003 and 2004 – During the early years, Net Literacy received in-kind donations and funding was provided to organizations being assisted because although the organization was a 501(c)3, all of the officers and board membes were minors and could not enter into grant agreements. In 2004, the board ammended the bylaws to allow individuals of majority age to become board members as long as more than 50% of the board remained students.
Important note: the above computer distribution does not represent the total number of computers repurposed, since as many as 400 refurbished computers would be staged to effectively execute programs and projects. Consequently computer deployment will not equate to the number of computers repurposed in any year.
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