PCs for People is a national leader in digital inclusion. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, every project, program and initiative at PCs for People is centered on getting low-cost computers and affordable broadband internet into the homes of low-income individuals. Our model is a self-sustainable social enterprise centered on building community value in every part of our program.
Access to affordable technology is essential in today’s digital world, where it is increasingly hard to acquire education, healthcare or employment opportunities without access to a computer or the internet. For example in 2009, the FCC’s Broadband Task Force found that about 70% of teachers assign homework requiring access to broadband. According to the Pew Research Center, lower-income Americans continue to lag behind in technology adoption. Nearly half of all adults with household income below $30,000 don’t have home broadband services or a traditional computer.
PCs for People refurbishes computers sourced from businesses to distribute to income-qualified individuals. Through a partnership with Mobile Beacon, we also distribute affordable hotspots that offer unlimited 4G LTE high-speed internet.
PCs for People’s model contributes to environmental sustainability by intercepting usable computers before they reach landfills and refurbishing them for reuse. America is also the largest producer of electronic waste. Only 20% of all electronic waste is recycled. Businesses typically retire computers long before their usable life is over.
PCs for People offer these businesses a certified secure electronic recycling service. This IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) service is free and offers benefits such as NAID AAA-certified data security that businesses would ordinarily have to pay for. Our R2 environmental certification ensures that all electronic waste we cannot reuse is recycled sustainably with zero-landfill impact.
Every part of our computer refurbishing process has been custom-built. Our purpose-built data wipers can wipe 16 hard drives at once and our in-house re-imaging software that can refurbish over a hundred computers a day. These can also be deployed remotely to refurbish computers off-site. Our wipers and software have been licensed for use by 8 software affiliates.
For our recycling workforce, we have built an award winning partnership with Midwest Special Services (MSS), a nonprofit which supports adults with disabilities. MSS clients are provided hands-on experience through work training, internship and volunteer opportunities within our electronic waste recycling processes.
Our capacity for innovation has led to a 40% year over year increase in number of people served and two-year growth from 15 to 52 employees. We expanded operations to Colorado in 2015, opened an e-commerce store in 2016, and have established operations in Cleveland as of 2018. Community impact has grown from touching 90,000 individuals per year to 170,000 individuals each year.
Our business model and partnerships have allowed us to distribute more computers to low-income families than any other nonprofit. We have built a network of 160 nonprofits across the US that help their constituents register for computers and internet form PCs for People. This improves our service delivery as these nonprofits connect and communicate with their constituents in the most efficient way.