Tech Mob Recyling Event a Success

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Michael Liimatta, Ben Martin, Burton Kelso and Rick Deane

Great turnout for the Tech Mob electronics recycling event on April 11!

We received a good number of used PCs to refurbish for low income families. What could not be reused was hauled off to be disposed of responsibly by Ben Martin and staff at The Surplus Exchange.

Special thanks to Burton Kelso of Intregal Computer Consultants for organizing and promoting this event.

13. April 2015 by Michael Liimatta

TechMob Computer Recycling Event

TechMob2
Help your community and the environment! Drop off used computers on Saturday April 11. 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Do you have an older, unused PC in your closet? Are you planning to upgrade your desktop or laptop computer this year? Is your office upgrading? We need your old technology to help bridge the ‘digital divide’ in the Kansas City Metro area!

We are very, very excited to announce the 2nd Tech Mob Technology Recycling Event! On Saturday, April 11th, we’ll be taking any and all e-Waste you can give us and refurbish it and recycle it in a responsible, mother-earth-approved way. The best part? We’ll do it for FREE!

All this recycling goodness will go down at:

Connecting for Good
NE Wyandotte Co. Community Tech Center
2006 North 3rd Street Kansas City, Kansas 66101

(map)

WHO ARE WE DOING THIS FOR:
Connecting for Good is a nonprofit organization that has been bridging the Digital Divide in the Kansas City Area since 2011 using wireless Internet, community technology centers, low cost refurbished PCs and free digital life skills classes.

3rd_st_labStop in to see the world’s first Google Fiber powered public computer lab

WHY:
The Digital Divide is very real in the Kansas City Area. We believe it is one of the most important social justice issues of our day.
25% of Kansas City area residents don’t have Internet access at home.
42% of those who don’t use the Internet have annual household incomes of under $25,000
46% of nonusers are minorities.
70% of Kansas City Public Schools students do not have the Internet in their homes.

It’s estimated 60 to 65 million computers become obsolete every year in the US, some estimates show 3 to 5 percent of material in landfills is e-Waste.

Another report estimated between 315 and 680 million computers are waiting in peoples garages and homes, waiting to be disposed of properly, which is why we are hosting the Tech Mob.

HOW:
Show up to the Tech Mob drop off your old technology and it will be professionally refurbished. What Connecting for Good can’t use will be professionally recycled. With your help, we can see many lives changed simply because they will be able to connect to all the resources available through the Internet.

Won’t you help? This is a great time to give us your unused PC equipment and get a tax deduction at the same time. What is no longer useful to you can be turned into something that can change the life of a child in an under resourced urban core family.

Acceptable items include computers, laptops, keyboards, mice, speakers, hard drives, tablets, Netbooks, flat televisions, DVDs, VCRs, stereos, camcorders, cameras, games systems, printers, scanners, surge protectors, telephones, typewriters and adding machines. Large appliances – including refrigerators, washers, dryers, ovens and microwaves – will not be accepted.

If you have any questions about our Tech Mob Recycle Event, feel free to contact Connecting for Good at 913-730-0677.

 

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18. March 2015 by Michael Liimatta

Recap of 2014 Digital Inclusion Activities

In 2014 we opened our first public access computer center

In 2014 we opened our first public access computer center in Kansas City KS

NE Wyandotte Community Technology Center: Probably the most significant event of 2014 was opening the Kansas City KS center in March. This project is a partnership with the Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority. The center is across from the Juniper Gardens low income housing project where we created a four-block wide Wi-Fi hotspot in April 2013 that reaches about 300 households. The center is in the 66101 zip code which has the highest rates of crime and poverty in the entire state of Kansas.

With one of the first installations of Google Fiber’s small business plan, the Internet connection at the center is super fast.  Since it opened in March, 1,100 adults and 700 teens and preteens have used the center’s twenty public access computers. We also offer free digital life skills classes on-site.

Last summer, we moved our refurbishing shop to the new Kansas center while continuing to conduct regular training sessions in the Reconciliation Services building at 3101 Troost in Kansas City MO. Our new community technology center is a model for similar programs in other Kansas City urban neighborhoods. In the coming year, we will be focusing on outreach to the Northeast area of Kansas City on the Missouri side of the state line. Our research has found that a very high percentage of families there are living on the wrong side of the Digital Divide.

Family Computer Day at the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council.

Family Computer Day at the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council.

Digital Life Skills Classes Reach More Inner City Residents:  In 2014, 2,106 people from Kansas City’s urban neighborhoods learned about computer basics, e-mail and the Internet through our efforts. 244 class sessions were led by staff and volunteers at ten different sites in the urban core. 25% of those who participated had never used a computer. 80% were minorities and 75% had annual incomes of under $20,000. Two thirds of participants were women, most whom were over fifty and had at least one child living with them.

Last year we kicked off a new concept we call “Family Computer Days” which are sponsored by churches, schools and community organizations. We partner with them to prepare a day long training event tailored to the unique needs of the people they serve. Along with three or four training staff and volunteers, we bring along a trailer full of computers which can be taken home that day by those who participate in the educational sessions.

Our PCs are going to neighborhoods where only 1 in 5 families owns a computer.

Our PCs go to neighborhoods where only 1 in 5 families owns a computer.

Refurbished Computers Go Where Few Families Own PCs:  In 2014, nearly 1,000 refurbished computers found their way to parts of the city where as few as one in five households own a computer (2013 US Census). 20% of our refurbished PCs found their way to cash-strapped churches, schools and nonprofit organizations.

For individuals who qualify as low income and take our courses, we provide a complete desktop system for as low as $75.00. This work was accomplished thanks to the efforts of two full-time shop managers, interns and volunteers. We are very grateful for the many individuals, businesses, organizations and government entities who made these efforts possible by donating thousands of used computers last year.

hubs

Inexpensive Unlimited 4G Wireless Internet Service Launched: Connecting for Good continues to operate Wi-Fi mesh networks that supply free Internet to three low income housing facilities, reaching about 500 households. In our efforts to provide affordable connectivity to people we serve, we forged a partnership with EveryOneOn.org and Mobile Beacon. Launched in November 2014, we now offer a $10 a month plan with no long-term contracts or credit checks. It is the Internet equivalent of a “pay as you go” cell phone. And, because so many people in the neighborhoods where we work do not have bank accounts or credit cards, we are accepting cash payments for the monthly subscriptions. This year we look forward to the conversion of this service, which runs on the Sprint network, to full LTE providing even faster connections.

Train-the-Trainer session at 3101 Troost, Kansas City MO

Train-the-Trainer session at 3101 Troost, Kansas City MO

Equipping Nonprofits: In 2014, Connecting for Good emerged as an equipper of other organizations that are working to close the Digital Divide among their own constituents.  Through hosting our training events, sending staff to train-the-trainer activities, refurbished PC partnerships, constructing computer labs, installing Wi-Fi, providing IT support and other activities, we’ve joined forces with local nonprofits to help more under served people become productive users of the Internet. As part of these efforts, we had the privilege of being one of the founding organizations of the Kansas City Digital Inclusion Coalition.

Kansas City area community groups we worked with in 2014 include:

Amethyst Place
Avenue of Life
Black Family Technology Awareness Association
Blue Hills Community Services
Church of the Resurrection/Geeks for God
Cristo Rey Kansas City
Harvesters
Hispanic Economic Development Corporation
Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council
Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority
Kansas City Kansas Public Library
Kansas City Public Schools
Kansas City Public Library
KC Digital Drive
Literacy Kansas City
Mutual Musicians Foundation
Operation Breakthrough
Reconciliation Services
Surplus Exchange
Upper Room/Swope Renaissance
Urban Neighborhood Initiative
Urban League of Kansas City
W. E. B. DuBois Learning Center
Welborn Villa
Westside Housing
YMCA of Greater Kansas City

A Special Thanks to our Partners and Supporters: Connecting for Good exists because of the support of local foundations and many committed individual donors. For all the great support, we are very grateful. We want to especially acknowledge the following for making substantial financial investments toward our efforts in the past year:

  • Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • UnifiedOnline!, Inc. (CTC/KCNAP)
  • Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph
  • Edward. F. Sweeney Foundation
  • Kansas City Digital Inclusion Fund
  • Kates Foundation
  • Ewing Kauffman Foundation
  • David Woods Kemper Charitable Trust (UMB Bank)

While we are excited about last year all we accomplished last year, we are preparing to make an even biggest impact in 2015. We will share some of our plans in a later posting. Thank you for your continuing support!

Donate to Connecting for Good

26. January 2015 by Michael Liimatta

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