Activities For The Civic Geek: Technology Refurb And Access

Technology is critical to people’s lives these days.  Not everyone has access to computers and computer knowledge.  Technical geeks can make sure people have access to technology – and teach people along the way.

If you don’t have internet and computer access, you’re at a disadvantage in the modern world.  A lot of people have trouble getting computers.

Ironically, a lot of people are also throwing equipment away.

These are two causes that can come together – refurbishing computers and getting them to people that need them.  After all, why throw it away when you can fix it, update it, maybe teach a few lessons – and then get them to people who need them.

There’s a few ways to do this:

  • First, you have to collect equipment and get it to people that can fix it. Just the collecting alone can keep you busy – as long as there’s someone to fix it up.
  • Then there’s fixing up and refurbing the equipment.  Any kind of technical geek can probably rally people to do this – or find people that do.
  • Finally, get it to people who need it.  If you can combine this with the fixing, it becomes extra educational.

You can do one or all of these parts of the process to help people out.  But there’s also many ways to do this:

  • Your local club/group/con can do one or all of the parts above.
  • Your can ally with other groups like hackerspaces and schools to do the work.  It might build great alliances.
  • You could combine this with other events – what if you have a fix-it workshop at a convention?  With a hackerspace fix-it session?
  • You could combine this with other educational activities in computer literacy or fix-it skills?  People could make their own computer from old parts.

People need technology.  You can make sure they get it – while learning and make electronics recycling easier.


  • Close The Gap – Takes computer donations from european countries and refurbishes them for emerging nations. Also works to recycle unusable equipment safely.
  • Computers With Causes – Takes donated computers and either gets them to charitable programs, or sells them for funds used to go to programs.
  • Free Geek (Portland) – A Portland nonprofit that recycles used computers and parts to provide computers and job training to those in need.
  • Free Geek Chicago – A Chicago nonprofit that recycles used computers and parts to provide computers and job training to those in need.
  • Little Geeks – A Canadian charity that refurbishes donated computers, and gets them to children in need.
  • Motor City Free Geek – A Detroit nonprofit that repairs and recycles computers, teaches and educates, and works on Open Source.
  • PCS For Schools – Refurbishes and upgrades donated computer equipment and uses it to bridge the technology gap in schools
  • World Computer Exchange – A US and Canadian non-profit that reduces the digital divide with education, donated computers, and more.