From the organization’s very beginnings, Tech Exchange has been focused on addressing inequities in technology, especially those inequities that impact low-income students. In the 1990’s Tech Exchange founder Bruce Buckelew helped Oakland Tech High School students to repair and keep their own personal computers, and today the organization is equipping 3,000 Bay Area students and families with free and low-cost computers on an annual basis to close the digital divide.
Thanks to a partnership and exciting initiative with Sprint, this year Tech Exchange is helping to close the digital divide for 3,200 Oakland high school students who will receive the equipment and connectivity they need to complete their schoolwork from home as part of the 1Million Project.
Seventy percent of high school teachers assign homework requiring online connectivity, yet more than five million families with school-aged students do not have internet connectivity at home. These students are faced with an enormous challenge as they are unable to complete their homework from home, search for jobs, apply to college and financial aid, or easily access the valuable information they need to succeed in school and life.
To close what has come to be termed the “homework gap,” Sprint is distributing 1 million hotspot devices across the country over the next five years. Each Oakland Unified School District student participating in the 1Million Project will receive either a free smartphone, tablet, or hotspot device and 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month for up to four years while they are in high school. Unlimited data is available at 2G speeds if usage exceeds 3GB in a month. Those who receive a smartphone can use it as a hotspot.
“Tech Exchange has been working to close the digital divide that exists for low-income Oakland students for the past 22 years,” said Tech Exchange Executive Director Seth Hubbert. “We are incredibly honored and excited to partner with Sprint and the district on the 1Million Project. Together we’re reaching thousands of additional students this school year.”
As implementation partner for Oakland, Tech Exchange is coordinating and staffing distribution events at 18 OUSD high schools to put hotspot devices into the hands of OUSD students who lack home internet access.
“We all know how challenging homework can be in the best of circumstances, but here in the 21st century, that daily task can be exponentially more difficult for students without internet access at home,” said Oakland Unified School District Superintendent, Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “We deeply appreciate Sprint and Tech Exchange for coming through with this amazing donation of internet access for thousands of our students. It will go a long way to helping them achieve the success they richly deserve.”
The 2017-2018 school year marks the first year of the initiative with more 180,000 students in 1,300 schools across 32 states. Every year over the next five years, hundreds of thousands of high schoolers who lack internet access at home will join and benefit from the 1Million Project. The ambitious goal is to connect one million students in that time to help level the playing field and help eliminate the “Homework Gap.”
“This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how business and education can work together to help close the digital divide,” said Suehyun “Johan” Chung, Northern California Regional President for Sprint. “We are hopeful that the 1Million Project helps to bring greater opportunity to students and families in the Oakland Unified School District and across the country.”
Have you or someone you know been helped by Tech Exchange’s programs? Do you support our community work to make sure families get access to technology and internet services and want to help us do more?
Tech Exchange is dedicated to providing equitable technology access to people in Alameda & Contra Costa counties. We recognize the need for people from all economic and cultural backgrounds to have a computer, reliable internet service, and skill training as a way to be empowered and self-sufficient members of society.
We also provide workforce training in the community, and focus on a reuse and sustainable recycling model that’s good for the environment.
We have been an ecologically sustainable, grassroots solution to addressing the digital divide locally since 1995, and each year we exceed our growth goals!
May 4 is East Bay Gives, a special day of fundraising for over 200 nonprofits in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Tech Exchange is participating and is asking you, our community, to consider being part of the day and donating to help fund our vital work!
On May 4 you can go to https://www.eastbaygives.org/techxorg and donate online! Your donations can help us win sponsored prizes that will give us added funding!
We’ll remind you when it’s time! Use the link at the bottom of https://www.techexchange.org/ to sign up for our newsletter and we will be in touch to remind you on May 4 with the info you’ll need to donate! Then watch us on facebook and twitter to see what’s happening on the day, or stop by our refurbished computer store to say hi!
Through a partnership between Kaiser Permanente staff, Hands On Bay Area, and the tireless staff at Tech Exchange, we rung in the New Year with a highly successful (and fun!) volunteer project for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service to get ready for our upcoming warehouse move!
After 20 years in one location, Tech Exchange’s computer refurbishing team will be moving to a new warehouse in West Oakland. We're becoming leaner and gathering our strength to grow, and this move sets us up to focus on efficiently getting computers to our community in increasing numbers!
In order to make the move this spring, we need to downsize and spring clean! That means sorting through things, reorganizing our stock, recycling what we can’t use, and getting the new space ready!
Over twenty people from Kaiser Permanente came out bright and early on January 16 and did just that! Under the direction of our staff, they went through the warehouse like a whirlwind, leaving us cleaner, ready to host a big surplus material giveaway for the community, and did it with grace and smiles!
The Day of Service, "A Day On, Not a Day Off!" began in 1994. Each year, “With an emphasis on creating opportunity for all, Americans of all ages and backgrounds in all 50 states will re-commit themselves as citizens by volunteering in service to one another,” according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. As ever, we are grateful for neighbors who support our events!
Tech Exchange wants to give a huge shout out to those generous Kaiser staff members who mopped, sorted, lifted, and cut lunch bread with a plastic knife to make the work light. Hands on Bay Area coordinated the volunteers and arranged for a tasty lunch. And our staff dug in like they always do!
Our community, including people who give of their time and money, have helped us increase our ability to help others and we're looking forward to a great 2017!
Watch this space for more details of our upcoming Open House on May 4 as part of East Bay Gives– hope to see you there!
Our refurbished computer store, classes, and technical support will be located this spring in the Fruitvale neighborhood. Watch for announcements on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/techXorg/.