PCs for People is bringing its mission of digital inclusion to Baltimore. The organization opened a space in East Baltimore, where residents can receive free or low-cost computers and affordable broadband internet.
Through the program, anyone that is 200% below the poverty line is eligible for a free or low-cost device. For example, a family of two making less than $34,000 a year would be eligible.
PCs for People refurbishes devices, and can have as many as 1,500 devices in the community per month. Businesses and other agencies can donate desktops and laptops, and within 14 days they’ll be refurbished and in the hands of Baltimore residents. The aim is to put a dent in Baltimore’s digital divide, where as many as one in three homes don’t have an a desktop or laptop computer.
“PCs for People solves a problem for people who are trying to do life in the 21st century,” said Gary Bonner, executive director of the organization’s Baltimore expansion, about what made him want to be at the helm of the national organization’s local arm.
Bonner was born in East Baltimore and saw his dad go from a copper smelter, who had no college education, to receiving technical training and becoming “economically mobile.” His parents moved the family to Mt. Washington, and Bonner witnessed how opportunities and training gave his father the ability to send three kids through college.
“Given the right tools and the right support at the right time, people who are low wealth can move themselves forward into the lives they envision for themselves and their families,” said Bonner.
PCs for People is based out of a 1,400-square-foot assembly, manufacturing facility and front office space in East Baltimore’s Claremont-Freedom neighborhood at 4220 Shannon Drive. The team is comprised of five people currently, but they intend to have a staff of 17 and is currently recruiting for positions.
Business can support the organizations by selecting PCs for People to be their electronic waste recycling vendor. They are certified by the secure data destruction standard NAID AAA and R2 certified for sustainable electronics repair. They do electronic waste disposal at no cost, and donors can see where the refurbished electronics benefited the community.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-