AZTC announces laptop drive to help students get online during school closures

Business News | 7 Apr |

The Arizona Technology Council and AZ StRUT (Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports Arizona’s technical education, are asking the community for help through the donation of laptops and chargers that can be refurbished for use by students. The challenge the community is facing is that an estimated 100,000 computers are needed by Arizona students suddenly forced to learn at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the total cited by Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, as children throughout the state turn to online lesson plans.

“Our current need and focus is getting laptops to Title I students and their families to improve their education during this pandemic,” says AZ StRUT Executive Director Tom Mehlert. “Our dwindling supply of donated laptops means we will have no others to work on beyond April 5. But, with a significant number of donations we can quickly ramp-up our efforts to distribute them to students in need.” 

Title I is the designation by the U.S. Department of Education for schools that receive supplemental funds to assist their large concentrations of low-income students in meeting state academic standards. Mehlert says more than 900 laptops were distributed in the last three weeks of March. 

The combined initiative surfaced after the Council and AZ StRUT had to scrap its electronics recycling initiative to commemorate Earth Day. 

“The need for laptops is critical right now as educational instruction has moved online,” said Steven G. Zylstra, the Council’s president and CEO. “Unfortunately, remote online learning is not an option for many students in rural and underserved schools in Arizona. Students without access to technology will fall behind. We need to act immediately so that no student is offline.”

Founded in 1997 by Intel and Motorola, AZ StRUT is a partnership of local schools and businesses that teach students new skills through refurbishing used computer equipment and providing them to schools in need. Over the years, completed systems have been donated to Arizona public schools and 501(c)(3) organizations. During the pandemic, the AZ StRUT team has been doing its work at EPI-HAB Phoenix, Inc. That includes quarantining incoming equipment for 72 hours per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

Devices being accepted for donation at this time are laptop computers and chargers. Other electronic devices will be accepted in the near future once mitigating steps have effectively flattened the curve of the pandemic. 

If your organization would like to donate laptops for students to continue to learn online during school closures due to the pandemic, AZ StRUT representatives will pick up quantities of 40 or more laptops. Companies may submit a pick-up request at https://azstrut.org/pick-up-request.

Individuals many also donate used laptops. AZ StRUT is also accepting donations at Batteries Plus stores throughout the Valley. Visit https://www.batteriesplus.com to find the nearest location. 

For obsolete laptops that cannot be refurbished, AZ StRUT will ensure the products are responsibly recycled.

For questions regarding laptop donations, please contact Tom Mehlert at 480-222-4066, #2 or via email at Tom@azstrut.org.

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