There is an overwhelming number of organizations that inspire and do good for people and for the environment. One that we recently partnered with, human-I-T, is an organization that is shrinking the digital divide while diverting e-waste from landfill. Read on to learn more about this amazing organization.
Q: Tell us more about human-I-T and the work you do?
A: Human-I-T is a nonprofit committed to shrinking the digital divide by ensuring that everybody has access to the technology and tools they need to succeed. From students who need to study remotely to seniors looking to access telehealth services, we connect low-income communities with computers, low-cost internet, and digital literacy training so they can stay safe, connected, and engaged. Not only do we create social impact, the environment is just as important; by taking in unwanted technology from businesses, refurbishing it, and donating it back out to the community human-I-T gives new life to millions of pounds of e-waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill each year.
Q: What type of electronic waste do you accept?
A: We like to say that we take “anything with a cord” except for appliances. We accept everything from enterprise-grade equipment like servers, switches, and networking gear, to consumer-grade laptops, desktops, and monitors, and everything in between. Our goal is to give a second life to any piece of equipment we can – anything that can’t be repurposed is responsibly recycled so that it doesn’t end up in a landfill.
Q: How did you get started donating electronics to those in need?
A: The founding of human-I-T in 2012 centered around two problems. The first is that over 80 million Americans lack access to a computer with high-speed internet in their homes. At the same time, over 150,000 computers were disposed of every single day, making e-waste the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
Our founders Gabe Middleton and James Jack saw that both problems could be solved with one solution. By repurposing technology that is no longer being used, we can divert it away from landfill. We truly believe that it’s our responsibility to repurpose that tech to empower the people who need it.
Q: Why should businesses consider donating some of their electronic waste rather than have it recycled?
A: Businesses should donate their electronic waste rather than recycling it because, not only does donating make social and environmental sense, the business services that we provide are what you can expect from a billion-dollar ITAD company. We offer a full suite of services from door-to-door logistics for e-waste removal to corporate-grade data destruction to itemized, tax-deductible donation receipts. While recycling e-waste is better than throwing it in a landfill, businesses who work with us can do good, save money, and make a prudent business decision, all while helping people and the planet.
Q: How do your business practices align with your mission and values?
A: Internally, we pride ourselves on social entrepreneurship and believe that we can create good in the world while running a business. One of our main values is opportunity; we exist to empower people and give them the opportunity to create good through our efforts. Everything we do is ultimately motivated by our mission to inspire and empower people to achieve their full potential.
Q: Has your focus shifted during COVID-19 and how so?
A: While our focus hasn’t necessarily shifted, we’ve definitely seen a spike in demand for the programs and services we provide. The COVID pandemic has really shone a spotlight on the digital divide and the opportunity gaps that exist between people who have access to computers and the internet and those who don’t. For example, COVID-19 has forced most students to shift to remote learning, exposing the true impact of the digital divide for millions of people in a real way.
Businesses have recognized this as well, and are seeing the true value of what we do, not only as a solution to their tech asset problems but also by aligning with our mission to ensure that everybody has equal access to the tools they need to succeed.
Q: How many people were you able to reach during the pandemic so far with donations from businesses?
A: Thanks to the gracious donations from organizations like RTS, we have been able to distribute over 53,600 computers to low-income households and support another 35,000 households with low-cost internet connectivity assistance so far in 2020.
Q: What is the reaction like from the recipients of electronic donations and how does it help?
A: Everybody working at human-I-T is inspired by and committed to what we do, and hearing reactions from our recipients makes coming into work every day incredibly rewarding. Every day, we hear stories from parents who now have peace of mind that their kids won’t fall behind in school, or high school students who were able to fill out their college application thanks to the computer they received from us. Reactions like this inspire us to continue making the biggest possible impact that we can as an organization.
One of the more recent stories is of Rose, a grandmother we helped at a local Detroit elementary school. Rose’s eyes filled with tears as we pulled up to the school. Her grandchildren did not have working devices and were falling behind in school. Due to the pop-up tech support event, we were able to provide her with functioning laptops for her grandchildren. She was so grateful on behalf of her grandchildren and more hopeful for their future when they left.
Q: How do partnerships with businesses help further your impact?
A: Our partners are the lifeblood of what we do – without them, none of our impact would be possible. We partner with businesses in several different ways, from donating their unwanted technology to becoming corporate financial sponsors to driving employee engagement through things like volunteer events. Internally we always talk about the philosophy of “one plus one equals three,” and nowhere is that more true than when talking about our partners.
Businesses interested in donating their unwanted technology can visit human-I-T and fill out the webform, and a representative will reply within one business day.