Kansas City Fed encourages laptop donations

Jeremy Hegle

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City launched the Employer Laptop Challenge, a new community development program that encourages companies and other organizations to donate used devices to nonprofits, schools and refurbishers.

“Closing the digital divide was serious work before COVID-19. Now, as Americans isolate themselves at home, those without computers and internet service are cut off from essential services, from learning, from family and friends,” said Jeremy Hegle, senior community development advisor at the Kansas City Fed. “The need for laptops is extreme.”

According to a recent report from the Kansas City Fed, large numbers of similar equipment donated from corporations knocks down costs and makes supporting the community easier. Hegle adds more than 30 percent of low income households lack a computer.

Through the program, organizations are encouraged to donate at least 15 used, surplus laptops or desktops to local nonprofits in a continued effort to bridge the digital divide. 

Hegle cites that it would take at least 5,000 computers to meet the needs of the most at-risk families in the metro Kansas City area, and even more are needed to help nonprofits struggling to operate virtually. With the pandemic, nonprofit refurbishers that are usually a source of free or cheap computers for nonprofits and lower income families are unable to meet the current demand.

The Kansas City Fed itself has donated more than 100 used computers to nonprofits across the seven-state District.