By Terence Lee
The Inspire Mountain View is a community challenge to "inspire innovation that makes Mountain View a more compassionate and equitable community, and a better place to work and play."
EqOpTech (short for Equal Opportunity Technology), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is proud to be a finalist for the Inspire MV Challenge with a proposed innovative project that would inspire innovation that makes Mountain View a more compassionate and equitable community, and a better place to work and play. This contest is organized and managed by the Los Altos Community Foundation and is sponsored by Google, LinkedIn, Symantec and Synopsys.
EqOpTech is planning to expand its footprint to Mountain View schools to provide the gift of technology to disadvantaged youth. To support EqOpTech's efforts to close the digital divide in education, please help EqOpTech in the following ways:
- vote for EqOpTech project in Mountain View here before April 21st
- help us spread the word
Three Problems, One Solution
EqOpTech is a Los Altos student-led nonprofit seeking to revive and reuse older technology as a learning tool to enable students with an "equal opportunity" access to STEM education through technology. Older laptops unable to access Google Drive are revived with Linux OS & deployed to disadvantaged students for homework & STEM learning.
The Equal Opportunity Technology program addresses the following challenges:
1. Benefit needy students with technology tools and training to significantly enhance their ability to excel academically
2. Provide opportunities for youth community to learn important technical and leadership skills while engaging in community services to benefit students in need.
3. Protect the local environment by reviving and reusing old laptops, minimizing e-waste impact.
EqOpTech makes Mountain View a more compassionate and equitable community and/or a better place to work and play
This project connects the community at large to collaborate and tackle the important issues of digital divide in education and environment. Despite the ubiquity of technology in Silicon Valley, students from low income family do not have easy access to computers and yet, there is an abundance of outdated computers slated to go to e-waste. We seek donation of obsolete/unwanted laptops and give them a purposeful second life by installing Linux OS as a dual boot to access the latest Google applications and to improve system performance. We provide equal opportunity technology learning to all students. Aside from providing disadvantaged students with easy access to laptops, we provide student volunteers with service opportunities to teach, mentor and motivate those in need. By engaging and empowering student volunteers in laptop drives, refurbish and STEM workshops, we provide leadership experience and the importance of giving back to the community, creating a win-win situation for all.
Technology-Infused Education - 21st Century Learning
Technology is deeply integrated into project-based learning at our school; students are expected to learn and leverage technology tools, from online research, collaboration using Google Drive, to creating iMovies for TED talks. Students without laptop will be at a disadvantage, lagging behind their peers, learning at a slower pace. Aside from providing laptops, our project seeks to leverage technology to teach, mentor and motivate disadvantaged students to effectively compete in STEM education.
The 'target group' - Students helping Students
The target group is the students. This is a program led by student project leaders, in collaboration with other student volunteers for the benefit of the disadvantaged students. Our students-helping-students program provides opportunities for students to collaborate in running laptop drives, refurbish workshops and ongoing STEM outreach to help students in need. The project not only fosters computer literacy in underprivileged youth, but also enriches students' leadership and computer skills.
Making a Permanent Change - Level the Playing field in Education & Technology
In order to prepare our students to compete effectively, it is critical to level the playing field in education technology. To address the root cause of the education divide, the program seeks to empower students with technology tools & service support to learn STEM at an early age. Through partnerships with school clubs, service organizations, libraries, museum etc., we aim to expose these young learners to develop early STEM skills & foster a focused, enriched environment for positive learning
Innovation - Use of Linux Technology to "enable" Older Technology
This project leverages technology to solve a multitude of real problems. It transforms potentially hazardous e-waste into useful education tools. By breathing new life into old laptops with Linux not only allows for access to the latest Google applications but also boost system performance. The program truly promotes equal opportunity technology education to all students: it empowers student volunteers to learn technology and leadership skills, and at the same time, enables disadvantaged students with technology tools to excel in class. The Computer-in-a-Box is open to all students including our youngest interns in 5th grade. What is unique about this project is the usage of technology to enable technology. In addition to live workshops, we provide the option of a step-by-step instructional user manual, an ISO image burned to a DVD, a how-to YouTube video on loading Linux and all other essentials packed in a box to pass out to students for refurbishing flexibility in time and place.
Partnerships - More than a One-Man Operation
Our program partners with local community to deliver the laptop and services funded by this grant. We plan to partner with school administration, PTA, student body and service clubs to run laptop drives to reach out to individuals and companies for laptop donations. Other potential partnerships may be established from time to time using direct appeal, social media and social private network (Nextdoor) to get the word out for support. We will team up with local school and service clubs to refurbish workshop at schools, library, police department or company meetup groups. We will also partner with service organizations and school clubs to host STEM-related workshop to teach, mentor and motivate young learners to develop STEM interests and skills.
Quantitative and Qualitative Metrics that Measure Up
The first metric is “the number of refurbished laptops deployed” which includes (a) laptops for disadvantaged students to use at home or outside of school (b) laptops deployed to teach STEM workshops in the community. The second metric is the number of volunteer hours which includes (i) laptop drives: publicity, marketing, social media and laptop pick up (ii) refurbishing laptops: technical training, removal of personal data, maintenance; operating system & software installation, upgrade and repair; and security (iii) organize & teach STEM workshops. The third metric is a qualitative assessment via survey monkey of how the program positively impacts the student participants’ lives, both for the disadvantaged students and student volunteers.
EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org