Nonprofit Ypsi Township refurbishes computers for giveaways, seeking to bridge the digital divide

A non-profit organization based in the township of Ypsilanti called Behavior Workshop recently donated nine refurbished Dell computers to local low-income families.

Behavior Workshop’s mission is to “introduce positive alternative lifestyles to at-risk youth”. Its founder, Tyrone Bridges, said he started refurbishing and donating computers through his nonprofit in 2016 after a county commissioner mentioned some old computers were for discharge. Bridges believed that he and the behavior workshop participants could make more use of computers by updating their software and hardware.

“I said, ‘Just give them to me,'” Bridges said. “I’m going to grab these units and teach these kids how to do it.”

The project diverted waste from landfills, while participants in the nonprofit were able to learn skills in refurbishing and repairing laptop and desktop computers. The nonprofit donated 20 desktops in 2016 and a mix of 25 desktops and laptops in 2017, then went on hiatus for a few years. All computers were configured with the latest operating systems available at the time, as well as licensed and open source software that would be useful to any user.

“The entire program is aimed at bridging the digital divide between low-income families and computer technology,” Bridges said.

One of this year’s recipients was Ypsilanti resident Tiara Warren. She says she found out about the gift after meeting Bridges at a community event. She asked to snag a computer for her 13-year-old son.

“It’s so beneficial for kids who can’t get desktop computers,” she says. “They are fully loaded with everything my son would need to do for school homework. They are just starting the school year and haven’t had a lot of homework yet, but he is equipped for when the time comes. “

Local non-profit association The survivors speak also donated 14 computer mice to Behavior Workshop, and Bridges received a few older monitors from friends and acquaintances. He says he hopes to attract individual donations or grant money to ensure he has monitors, mice and other devices to pair with all the units he offers.

Bridges says anyone interested in donating old computer equipment or money, or keeping an eye out for future tech giveaways, can email him at [email protected].

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and project manager of On the Ypsilanti field. She joined Concentrate as a news editor in early 2017 and occasionally contributes to other Broadcast Media Group editions. You can reach her at [email protected].

Photo courtesy of Tyrone Bridges.

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