Free Geek launched on Earth Day 2000 as part of a community-wide public event at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland then in September of that year we opened the doors to our facility on Southeast 10th Avenue as a recycling/reuse drop off for electronic waste salvaging technology from the waste stream before it made its way into landfills. Over the years, we have added new Digital Inclusion programming to support education, free technology access, digital literacy, and workforce development shifting the focus and the way we define ourselves as an organization; though our reuse and recycling programs form the backbone of our work, by providing us with the refurbished devices we are able to put back into the community, our core goal is to function as a service provider whose offerings help narrow the digital divide.
Free Geek is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potential.
Computers help us in many ways, but the move toward a digital future isn’t without its share of hurdles. Many individuals lack the resources necessary to purchase a computer or get the training required to use digital technology. At the same time, the rapid pace of technology consumption and turnover means that over 2 million tons of hazardous e-waste is created each year in the United States. Free Geek’s goal is to divert technology that would otherwise be recycled or thrown away, refurbish it, and give it back to our community at no or low cost.
Free Geek has created a unique circular model which points two existing societal problems - excess electronic waste in need of sustainable reuse and recycling, and lack of access to basic technology among vulnerable populations - back at each other to reveal innovative solutions. The computers we grant to our Digital Inclusion participants are saved from ending up in landfills, and instead go on to find a new life helping provide our community’s most vulnerable populations with the digital literacy skills they need to succeed and thrive.