We believe digital technology should be accessible to everyone
Access to computers and the Internet is essential to all aspects of life. But statistics reveal that there’s a large disparity in access to technology.
The cost of digital exclusion is great
Digital access is essential to nearly every aspect of society. We call the growing gap in access to technology the digital divide. It encompasses the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and Internet access and those who do not.
Full participation in society is compromised when people don’t have access to home computers, the Internet, or the training required to use them. For example, activities like finding and applying for jobs require access to — and knowledge of how to use — the Internet, email, word processors, and online job boards.
Many people in our community don’t have digital access
Roughly 17 percent of the U.S. population lacks access to a home computer and the Internet. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, roughly 30 percent of adults with annual household incomes below $30,000 don’t own a smartphone, and nearly half don’t own a traditional computer or have home broadband service. Can you imagine trying to write a term paper, checking on your child’s grades, or applying for jobs without technology? Neither can we!
But it isn’t just a matter of income. The digital divide affects traditionally underserved members of our community, across multiple populations and groups. Data shows that individuals who aren’t connected to a home computer and the internet are statistically more likely to be low-income, seniors, and immigrants.
Here at Free Geek, we want everybody in our community to have access to digital technology and the skills and training to be able to use it. It’s our mission to bridge the digital divide so that everyone can play a part in our digital future.
"Your services help not-so-tech-savvy people feel more comfortable with technology and helps them to keep in touch with their friends and family. Thank you!"
Megan Bowes, Community Member
Responsible reuse of technology can bridge the digital divide in our community
At Free Geek, we work towards bridging the digital divide in our own community by leveraging the responsible reuse of technology. Participating in the cycle of reuse means that technology we receive from government, businesses, community organizations and other community members can be further used rather than going straight into recycling (or worse, a landfill). By repurposing unwanted electronics for our community programs, we lower the cost of digital access and curb the environmental impact of e-waste.
The technology that’s donated to Free Geek is tested, refurbished, and used in our unique community programs. This technology is made available at a low cost in The Free Geek Store, given to volunteers in exchange for community service, granted to community nonprofits, or provided to students through the Plug into Portland program.
In 2016, Free Geek processed over 1 million pounds of e-waste and, in the same year, returned about 3,500 refurbished devices to the community. With your help, we can do even more.