With the prevalence of computers, smartphones and digital devices in most of our day-to-day lives, accessing a digital device might not seem like a problem. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 20% of North Carolina households do not have access to a meaningful device.
For 4.4% of North Carolina households, a smartphone is the only “computer” that they own, which remains less efficient and capable than a computer or tablet with a keyboard for completing homework or job applications, recording and analyzing data or taking care of many other tasks.
Further, 14.4% of households don’t have a device at all.
To address this problem and help close the gap, North Carolina is home to two nonprofits that refurbish computers to help improve access to affordable, meaningful devices.
Kramden Institute Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to empowering hardworking, yet economically disadvantaged students to cross the digital divide. They award thousands of PCs to students to be used to advance their academic and personal achievements.
Kramden collects donated PCs, laptops and peripherals and refurbishes the equipment and awards the computers, thereby extending the useful life of electronics and reducing e-waste.
Since its founding in 2003, Kramden has awarded more than 30,000 computers to students across 81 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
The organization has partnered with numerous schools, other nonprofits and military aid organizations across the state to award computers to those in need. More than 3,000 students and adults have taken part in its education programs.
E2D or Eliminate the Digital Divide works to study the pervasiveness of digital exclusion and to create solutions for one family at a time.
The nonprofit’s goal is to equip the remaining students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools with the educational tools that will make them successful in the classroom and prosper throughout the rest of their lives.
Since its founding in 2013, the organization has partnered with 140 schools in the school system and provided laptops, digital access and computer training to more than 7,000 families.
For more information on refurbished and reused technology, visit the website of the Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse.