Supporting Free Geek – WPCampus 2019


I’m Hilary show honey I’m the manager of
development for free geek I’d like to thank you all for having us here it’s
very rare that we have a reach out from a group that wants to just help support
us instead of by swag so that was really wonderful
I’m gonna try to keep this as fun as possible but spoiler alert I work in
development and development in nonprofit land means I’m a fundraiser I’m going to
ask you for money so you can see this slide here I want you to remember the
woman in the orange and I also want you to remember the tagline including
everyone in our digital future at free geek that is our massive transformative
purpose that’s how we think about all the work we do is what we’re doing
including people in our digital future I’m gonna explain to you what that means
and I did write myself note so that I don’t get too excited
but what is Free Geek? So at Free Geek our mission is to sustainably reuse
technology enable digital access and provide education to create a community
that empowers people to realize their potential that’s a really big mission
statement and it’s really hard to unpack but I want to give you all the simplest
explanation that I was given when I first learned about free geek. Free Geek
takes two societal problems so e-waste that’s generated if you think about it
there are more smartphones in the world than there are people and it points that
problem back at the problem of the digital divide which is where I want to
focus a lot of our talk today what is the digital divide what does it mean so
digital divide is solved by this thing we like to call Digital Inclusion and
what Digital Inclusion is is the idea that people will have a device that they
can access the internet with internet access educational support to use those
devices and tech support and there’s a new line that they’ve added which
actually relates to you all very closely it’s inclusive web building practices
that others that don’t necessarily have the same access can interact with your
websites in the same way so when we think about what we do we’re doing
sustainable reuse so we are responsible recycler and
technology reuse facility free-kick has been around since 2000 we occupy occupy
about 25,000 square feet in central Southeast Portland and process about a
million pounds of e-waste every year so that’s computers that we can’t actually
reuse but our biggest goal is to reuse as many devices as possible and get them
into the hands of those that need them so digital access is one of our biggest
pillars we connect our volunteers local nonprofits K through 12 students and
certain folks who have been referred to us through a program to technology and
we grant out about 1,300 devices a year but it really depends on how much need
me see and then we teach about 2,000 hours of community education annually in
our classroom so I’m not gonna get to the impact report yet I want to tell you
a couple of stories about why it matters so the woman that I pointed out to you
on the first slide her name is Petula and Petula is a part
of our welcome to computers class what welcome to computers is is a six-week
culturally inclusive course where we work with local groups around the
Portland metro area to identify those who don’t have access to a device and
don’t have the basic skills to use the device
so when Petula joined our cohort she was referred to us by a housing group here
locally low income housing and she had never used a mouse before so I don’t
know if you can all imagine this but we had a conversation with Petula about how
to use a mouse for the first time how to get online for the first time how to use
a computer for the first time Petula is now a paid translator and
instructor for these classes we teach about 300 students through these classes
every year we provide child care food translation services and at the end of
these classes everyone receives a free device they also get free tech support
from free geek for that device we also have a program called plug into Portland
what plug into Portland is is a way that students throughout the Portland metro
area can connect to technology a lot of students I think it’s something
like 30% of students nationwide don’t have access to a computer I know that
seems foreign to a lot of folks but we had this really wonderful student Lenoir
who volunteered for 24 hours she volunteered at what she called an
old folks home I’m not sure what the correct term is
but she read bingo cards for people and then when she was done with her service
she came in and received her free computer from free geek
I interviewed Lenore on the phone it was one of the most impactful experiences of
my career and when I talked to Lenore what she said to me was Hilary there’s
this whole world out there and I never got to see it before she’s 11 years old
our community education and volunteer programs like I was mentioning earlier
serve about 2,000 individuals per year one of the program participants there is
named Kayla um kayla is a really amazing student she
actually ended up interning for us she was at that time a junior in high school
and did not have a computer at home she volunteered for us worked with us took
hundreds of classes with us and now kayla is a freshman in college and she
is using her free geek computer to study she’s going to Portland State University
when I talked to Kayla and I asked her what she’s gonna use her computer for
she said I’ve been typing my term papers on my phone I’m so excited to be able to
type it on a computer sorry the story always chokes me up so why is this
connected to me why does this matter to me I grew up without a computer so I’m
one of those 30% of students who didn’t have access I graduated college in 2016
and I graduated using a freaking computer um sorry I always cry um I want
to show you a little bit of the impact that we’ve had in the past year hold on
and breaking the system Brad do you remember with it euros is it
obvious that impact up for you Edward thank you I’m gonna type wrong I did I
took your great ok I’m the one who screwed up not you alright this is not
currently the full screen but it’s going to be the full screen in a minute there we go alright I apologize for the
Wi-Fi so this is our mission report those three pillars of our mission
sustainable reuse education and digital access we’ve all highlighted out into
what we did in this past year so in the past year we recycled 1.3 5 million
pounds of e-waste this is the number I’m least excited about we enabled digital
access so last year we were able to give away 1288 computers this is another
student who received a computer from us and she wanted a desktop machine not a
laptop machine but students do receive laptops and she’s hugging the machine
that she received we also provided a record amount of education so last year
we had four thousand four hundred ninety seven learner hours and you can see this
is one of the classrooms as welcome to computers you can see batula there in
the background she’s one of my favorites and how can you help
three geek how can you help make our mission possible so one of the major
ways that people help us is we have about 40,000 volunteer hours that are
given to us every year most of our classes are taught by volunteer
instructors and all of that recycling that was done helps support our mission
and that is all done by volunteers last year we served a total of 35,000 people
in the Portland metro area and we were recognized multiple times for our work
in the community this is a letter from our executive
director that you don’t need to read this is our beautiful staff you can also
support us by donating your technology to free geek all of you work for
universities I would love to encourage you to go back to the places that you
work and ask them to give technology to either free geek or an organization like
ours and then you can give money so money helps support us in the way that
is probably most meaningful I can’t pay instructors to teach classes like Petula Scholastica and I need to be able to get
people basic technology so right now one of my major issues is that we don’t have
enough hard drives to give away the computers that we want to give away so
in order to give we’re gonna use some technology so I imagine that many of you
have cell phones and if you have a cell phone you can break it out right now and
I’ll give you the information to give the way that you give is you text give
geek to the number four four three two one again that’s give geek two four four
three two one and I know that Jennifer set a goal of three thousand dollars for
us for this and I want to quantify that for you all three thousand dollars is
exactly half of what it takes to put on one of our welcome to computers cohorts
that serves thirty students six thousand dollars is the total so if you all can
reach that goal you’ll help us provide 15 students with a computer and the
skills that they need to use it that’s all I have thank you

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