October 28th, 2011
By the Lake Area United Way
The Lake Area United Way, working in partnership with Net Literacy and the Indiana Association of United Ways, recently distributed 156 updated computers to 13 community organizations. The computers will be used primarily in job training and computer lab settings so clients can increase their literacy skills.
“Most are reconditioned Dell computers upgraded with added speed, memory and Windows 7,” said Dave Sikes, Lake Area United Way’s Director of Allocations. “The donated computers will help students, adults and seniors expand their computer, communications and literacy skills.”
The donations were made possible by Net Literacy which refurbishes old computers and redistributes them – all with the help of middle and high school student volunteers. Founded in 2003 by Daniel Kent, then a 14-year old 8th grade computer whiz-kid from Carmel, Indiana, Net Literacy is a student-run organization seeking to bridge the digital divide for underprivileged and under-served populations.
Based in Indianapolis, Net Literacy has provided computer access to more than 150,000 Hoosiers in 20 counties, and chapters are up and running in three other Midwest states. Nearly 13,000 computers have been donated to schools, libraries, and other nonprofits in 17 counties in Indiana. Over 2,000 students have given more than 200,000 hours of voluntary service to their communities.
“Lake Area United Way was originally allotted 100 computers from Net Literacy, but we had requests for 156. We were going to have to pare the list down, but Dan Kent found 56 more computers so all the local agencies that requested computers got them,” explained Sikes.
“The primary goal of the computers is to increase literacy – not only in children, but adults and seniors as well. We hope the agencies will use them to expand programs like English as a Second Language classes, computer literacy, financial literacy and many other creative ways,” he added.
The recipient agencies were: Boy Scouts of America, Calumet Council; Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana; Catholic Charities; Crisis Center; Gary Life Education Initiative; Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago & Northwest Indiana; Greater Works; North Township Trustee’s Office; The Salvation Army; Sojourner Truth House; Urban League of Northwest Indiana; United Neighborhood Organization; and YWCA of Northwest Indiana.
Gloria Gregory, site director of United Neighborhood Organization’s Martin Luther King Center in East Chicago, said the donated computers will be used to re-open its computer lab which has been shuttered because all their existing computers were either outdated or inoperable.
“Most of our clients are poor and cannot afford computers,” Gregory said. “These computers will be used by the public seeking employment, students doing their homework, training classes for the community, and reading and literacy programs for the students we serve.”
Denise Brown, the executive director of the YWCA of Northwest Indiana, says the donated computers will be used in the agency’s after-school program which helps children and youth age 5 to 18 years of age with homework assistance and tutoring purposes.
“Our computer lab features a highly structured educational program called ‘PLATEO’. We’ve seen remarkable student success in math and reading abilities and these computers will allow us to help even more students,” she explained.
Vanessa Allen, executive director of the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, said the units will assist some 15,000 agency clients in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties with job searches, updating resumes, and applying for college admission, student scholarships, and financial aid.
“Lake Area United Way is always looking for ways to connect area partners with resources to expand their ability to better serve the residents of our community,” said Sikes. “This is a great partnership that helps us achieve community impact in three critical areas: education, income and health.”
In addition to distributing computers to Lake Area United Way, Net Literacy also donated computers to the United Ways in Porter and LaPorte counties.
Note from Dan Kent: read a kind thank you letter from the Boys and Girls Club, one of the organizations that we helped with a donation of 34 computers by clicking Thank You Letter Net Literacy B and G Clubs.