Do you ever wonder what happens to your old work computer when you upgrade to a new one? In the past, retiring laptops, desktops, and accessories usually meant adding to the never-ending pile of e-waste our planet is plagued with, sending tons of electronic equipment into landfills.
But thanks to a partnership between GapTech and the Oakland-based non-profit Tech Exchange, old computer hardware from Gap Inc. headquarters is being repurposed to serve the needs of low-income residents just across the way from us in the East Bay of California.
In addition to preventing e-waste from landing in local garbage dumps, the partnership helps bridge the digital divide for households that can’t afford computers and lack technological literacy. According to Tech Exchange, nearly half of low-income youth in Oakland do not have access to a computer at home.
To address this inequity, Tech Exchange crews retrieve old hardware from Gap Inc. headquarters in San Francisco. In an East Bay warehouse, the old hard drives are securely wiped and uninstalled, then the donated computers get refurbished with licensed operating systems and software. Local community centers and schools connect Tech Exchange with eligible families, who receive free computers, basic tech training and inexpensive Internet access.
Since Gap started working with Tech Exchange in January 2017, the company has donated over 2,400 laptops, 600 monitors and 535 desktops for placement with low-income families.
Last month, GapTech also sent a team of volunteers to help run a computer pick-up event at the 81st Avenue Branch of the Oakland Public Library.
Seth Hubbert, executive director at Tech Exchange, noted that Gap Inc. and Tech Exchange have quickly come together to confront an important problem facing young people in Bay Area communities, where computer literacy is vital for everything from finishing homework to applying for a job.
“We have the same values and the same commitment to give back to our community,” Hubbert said. “It’s allowing us to have a quick impact, and a large impact.”
Want to learn more about Tech Exchange, and see how you can help support this important cause? Head here.