A significant number of children in single parent households lack home computers, a reliable internet connection, or both. With current educational standards being what they are, and the expectation of most school districts being that children will be able to work or research online at home, each of these children are at a high risk of falling behind academically. Although it is true that virtually every public library provides internet access, it is also true that a person’s time on the computer is usually subject to time limitations and waiting lists.
This is in addition to the obviously limited hours of the public library. It is an unfortunate fact of life that many single moms have limited transportation, or are forced to depend on public transportation. For a single mom using a public bus to get to and from work, as well as getting her to child to school or child-care, it would be incredibly difficult to deviate from the normal routine in order to spend additional time at the library. Fortunately, there are several charities that have stepped up to help these underprivileged children receive the full education that they are entitled to.
Computer Recycling Center
Computers Recycling Center is a non-profit agency located in several states. At this time, they can only be found in California, but hope to expand to other states in the near future. They work, as most other similar charities do, by taking in donated computers. They repair and update them as needed, in order to either give or sell for a very low cost, to qualified business, agencies, charities, schools, and certain low-income individuals. Participants in this program are eligible for either a laptop or a desktop computer, although there may be waiting lists at some times for existing computers. To apply, or for more information, visit their website at http://crc.org/apply/
Computers 4 Kids
Computers 4 Kids is another non-profit agency that strives to provide computers to children in their area from low-income families. C4K helps students in the Charlottesville, Virginia that meet the following qualifications:
1) Live in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County
2) Enrolled, with acceptable attendance records, in 7th through 12th grades
3) Eligible for the free or reduced meal program
4) Interest in learning more about computers
5) Able to commit to meeting with the appropriate mentor for at least 36 hours
6) Demonstrate an ability to get to and from C4K
7) Are able to fill out the application for services, and have parental consent for involvement
8) Go to, and participate in, a 3 day training session to learn about the program
9) Comply with all rules, guidelines, and expectations of the program during enrollment
Eligible participants will be allowed to take home their computer, after they have:
1) Fulfilled the first 8 hours with their mentor
2) Completed their technology project
3) Continued to be in good standing with their mentor
Students who successfully complete the first part of the program will also receive one year of free, dial-up internet access. Their website can be found at: http://www.computers4kids.net/students/index.html
Computers For Causes
Computers for Causes is one of the only nationwide charities that provides computers free of charge to needy individuals. They judge a person’s ability to be approved on a number of qualifications, including ( but not limited to):
1) The reasons(s) behind the need for a computer
2) Background check
3) Reference check
As a nationwide charity that is solely staffed by volunteers, it is obvious that they receive many requests. As a result, it is common for people to apply, and never hear back, until they are asked to sign for a large package. That large package could easily be the new computer. To begin the application process, go their website here: http://www.computerswithcauses.org/application.htm
Non-charitable Options for Getting a Free Computer
It is important to understand that the phrase “One man’s trash is another’s treasure” is still valid in today’s society. A computer that no longer is able to meet the needs of a business probably still has lots of life in it, and could easily do well in your home for word-processing and internet usage. As a result, http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites frequently has computers that come available for free under the “free” section, or for a nominal cost under the “computer section”. You will need to check frequently, because the good stuff like computers go quickly.
Another place where computers can be found for free, on occasion, is http://www.freecycle.org/. This is always a free exchange of tangible goods, with the ultimate goal of recycling and reusing existing items, in order to keep them out of the dumpster. Once you join, you are allowed to request items that you need or want, within reason. As people and businesses upgrade their computers, you may get lucky and snag an older, working one for your family. You will need to search for the city closest to you, and join, but it’s easy and free, as long as you have some form of access to the internet.
It’s important to be able to give our children more than what we had, and to give them the best start that we can. It’s obvious that computers, as well as the associated computer skills is an integral part of that.
With a little digging, and a little patience, you will be able to do just that.