How many times today have you used computer technology?

How do you...

….search for a job?
…find your way around town?
…help your child with new math homework?
…research a place to live?
…do your banking?

Now imagine not having access to a computer or the internet, or the skills to use them. How would you find a job? What kind of work could you do? How could you prepare your children for a better life?

The future of our economy is intricately tied to technology. People need technology skills in order to find work and participate fully in life in the 21st Century. And yet, if you look at our technology companies, you will see that the people who run them don’t look like or represent all of America. And if you look at schools and neighborhoods, you will see that access to technology is not equal across them.

Computer Reach takes computers that would otherwise fill up landfills with toxins and waste, and instead refurbishes them to use in our youth training programs, and to give back to communities that could not otherwise afford them.

Our “Tech Camps” include after-school as well as summer camps, and special topics of interest to young people. Participants learn the history of personal computing, how to build a computer, and can choose from topics like Creative Media, Coding, and Gaming. Most camps are for girls only, and serve Pittsburgh as well as rural areas of SW Pennsylvania. We focus on girls because women are vastly underrepresented in academic technology fields as well as careers in technology, and girls often do better in an all-girl environment. We also work outside of Allegheny county, because rural areas often get short shrift when it comes to technology offerings. Participants who qualify will receive a free refurbished computer, and be eligible for low-cost internet devices.

Our “Explorers Club” includes a career skills and tech curriculum as well as field trips and retreats. The club meets twice each month to learn computer technology skills as well as develop career and life skills. This year, we will incorporate a service learning component into the program that serves the neighborhoods where the participants live. We travel to Carnegie Mellon, Google, NASA, and many more sites to highlight potential technology career choices with day-long tours with professionals at these sites. Along with career skills, we teach wiring, soldering, coding, refurbishing, environmental recycling, wired and wireless infrastructure networking, and best practices for teaching computers to elderly clients in a small group setting. Participants who qualify will receive a free refurbished computer, and be eligible for low-cost internet devices.

In our “Good Home” project, we partner with libraries and other nonprofits to train adults on basic computer skills. Participants receive eight hours of interactive and practical training in a small group. Topics include mouse techniques and homescreen use, email, basic applications, internet use and safety, and understanding the hardware of your computer. Once participants complete the training, they take their computer home with them. They are also eligible for low-cost internet devices.