Looking Back, and Looking Forward
Each year end, we all typically reflect on our accomplishments, and look forward to the next year with plans, goals, and aspirations. At Laptop Upcycle we have enjoyed an exciting and fulfilling year as we have continued to deliver on our mission of eliminating the technology gap for students in our local public schools. Please indulge me as I share details of our wins in 2018 below and map out a few of our plans for the year to come.
Deliveries of laptops in and around Montclair, NJ have now exceeded 300 since our project started in late 2015 and 2018 saw a constant increase in deliveries to students in our schools. Most impressively, in the last 3 months of the year we gave 87 laptops to excited young adults. Our team of volunteers has worked hard to get the word out about laptop availability and this tells me that our efforts have been successful. Partnerships with counselors and teachers in our schools as well as other excellent nonprofits locally has been a key factor in this uptick. I invite you to have a look at this story on TAP Montclair which includes photos of a delivery to 12 students just last week which was done in conjunction with Reaching Out Montclair.
Each of the families in attendance last week also received a free wifi hotspot, which as a part of the US Sprint ConnectedED program, delivers free connectivity to these (and other) families in need for 4 years. We at Laptop Upcycle are excited that we are able to continue this important compliment to the Laptop delivery project. US Sprint supplies the connectivity and bandwidth, but the hotspot devices must be purchased. A generous grant from the Don Katz and Leslie Larson Foundation in 2018 provided the funds for Laptop Upcycle to purchase these, and we are very thankful to them for the continued support.
Our hardware deliveries in 2018 certainly are noteworthy, but the project’s uniqueness and success lies in our volunteer and student outreach activities – our people. In its most simple form, each information technology system is input, output, and a black box in between those that does some things. For Laptop Upcycle, the black box is the testing, data wiping, repair (if needed), operating system install, more testing, and cleaning. In 2018 we transitioned most of this work to High School student volunteers.
We like that the students enjoy their time in the lab and demonstrate a willingness to jump in to any challenge we offer up to them. This past Summer two of our student volunteers from the year prior created, organized, and presented a week-long coding camp for other younger students in conjunction with the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation. Ethan Che and Alex Rovalino, seniors from Glen Ridge High School did a great job. Most every Sunday afternoon, you will find a mix of adult volunteers (myself, Mike Brown, or Mark Zbucki) leading and training a diverse group of students. They learn, they get our laptops ready, and they have fun. It’s a great time and we welcome others to join us.
In the lab we have also made great improvements in our internal systems and inventory management. In addition to leading and tutoring our volunteers at our work sessions, Mark and Mike have each spent a great deal of time refining our systems, Mark on the network and Ubuntu image we use on our laptops and Mike with the inventory processing and back office systems.
Finally, a summary of 2018 would not be complete without mention of progress in support of our nonprofit. Co-founder John Wisniewski and Frances Smith have been making progress with our nascent grant and fund raising effort which resulted in a Best Buy grant in support of our education programs. Our new volunteer Brigeth Rivera and co-founder Sarah Damaskos have restarted our marketing and public relations activities and volunteer James Walker has kept us current in the accounting realm. As a 100% volunteer shop, we can’t be more appreciative to all who help. Thank you to all!
Plans for 2019
For the New Year, Laptop Upcycle will seek to continue the growth and refinement of our core mission, to provide the tools our local students need to eliminate the technology gap and help them succeed in school. Expansion in other strategic areas will complement this mission. With appropriate levels of resources, volunteers, we plan to:
In closing, thank you to all who have donated your time, talents, financial donations, or laptops to Laptop Upcycle in 2018! We are looking forward to a great New Year in 2019 and welcome any new volunteers or partners. As always, you may contact us at email@example.com.
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