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Little Geek at heart

<p>The old computer collecting dust in the basement has the ability to change a child’s life for the better. A new philanthropic program, Little Geeks, strives to improve the lives of underprivileged youth by refurbishing old computers and giving them to families, complete with an Internet connection.</p>

Project puts computers in hands of children



Andy Walker recently started Little Geeks, a project to help underprivileged youth gain access to refurbished computers with Internet access.





“There are loads of computers out there ... and the older they become, the more useless they become. The project gets those computers out of companies and individuals, fixes them up and gives them to underprivileged children.”






The old computer collecting dust in the basement has the ability to change a child’s life for the better.


A new philanthropic program, Little Geeks, strives to improve the lives of underprivileged youth by refurbishing old computers and giving them to families, complete with an Internet connection. The project was the idea of Andy Walker, a technology journalist and part of the launching team of Canada.com.


“There are loads of computers out there, and they’re like vegetables, they’re rotting, and the older they become, the more useless they become,” he said. “The project gets those computers out of companies and individuals, fixes them up and gives them to underprivileged children.”


Families can sign up on the website www.littlegeeks.org, or can sign others up on their behalf. Little Geeks will then provide them with a computer and Internet connection in exchange for regular communication to ensure that the computer is being used properly.


“They will have to communicate with us every few months, let us know how it’s going, how the computer is being used,” Walker said. “It remains our property. We have an ongoing relationship with the child from the beginning.”


A group of volunteers called Mentor Geeks are the point of contact with the family, and ensure that the child is educated on how to properly use the computer.


The idea initially came to Walker two years ago, and has been in the works for several months. It eventually launched last month. The initial goal is to distribute 500 computers by February and 3,000 in 2007.


With the startup cost coming out of Walker’s pocket, Little Geeks relies on corporate sponsorship for funding. Companies have already stepped forward with donations of an office and money for Internet connections.


“There’s been big outreach by the press,” Walker said. “A large consulting firm called and said, ‘We have 900 computers for you to use,’ and that’s my pilot project right there, but the reality is we’re going to need those 900 computers. I’d love 5000, 10,000, there are just more kids than there are computers.”


The project’s strategy is to approach major corporate sponsors with the goal of raising even more funds for the children. “It’s very aggressive, he said. “Corporate champions are what we need; it’s our next major goal.”


 
 
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