In a milestone moment, Hoboken-based nonprofit Computers 4 People cut the ribbon on its first official office space this month.
The nonprofit helps bridge the digital divide by collecting, refurbishing, and donating computers to individuals and organizations in under-resourced communities to promote equity and access to opportunity.
During the pandemic, technology has never been more important as those who are able work, attend school, interview for jobs remotely, and try and socialize while socially distanced.
Executive Director and founder Dylan Zajac, 17, started the non-profit in his bedroom a year and a half ago.
Now the fast-growing organization has expanded past the four walls of his home and an overflowing 5×10 storage space to an office on Newark Street.
“It’s awesome,” Zajac said. “Our storage unit was a fifth of the size of this office, and having this physical space where we can do our work means so much. “
Before the office, volunteers making the computers operational had to go to Zajac’s home or the storage space.
The office not only has storage but space for volunteers to do their work on desks and tables donated by the Jubilee Center.
The new space helps the 501c3 streamline the process of filling orders, according to Zajac who noted it also helps make them feel “more official to some people instead of them seeing it solely online.”
Computers 4 People has collected, refurbished, and donated more than 135 computers to a range of individuals and organizations in need.
It partners with dozens of nonprofits such as Easterseals, BRC, The Fortune Society, Community Access, WomenRising, Triangle Park Community Center, and Welcome Home JS, to provide their clients with essential computers for school, job search, and more.
Through a new process, nonprofits in the area can nominate an individual or apply for computers and complete recommendation forms online. An application committee reviews every application “so we know every computer is going to the right place” Zajac said.
Currently, Computers 4 People is working with Easterseals to supply roughly 50 desktop computers to individual senior citizens.
Computers 4 People isn’t done growing yet.
The next step: raise more money and grow the organization enough to hire an employee who can run the day-to-day operations while Zajac is away at college next year.
“Maybe eventually we will open another location wherever I go to school,” he said. “A lot of things are in the works.”
To help make that a reality, he will dedicate his senior project in his last trimester of high school to working on Computers 4 People full time.
“I’ll have two months where I’ll get to work on it full time instead of taking phone calls and doing meetings in between classes,” said Zajac, noting that his friend will also intern for him for their senior project. “It’ll be really nice to actually do this full time instead of every day after school.”
For 2021 he has set the goal of completing at least 250 donations, perhaps some even outside of the Hudson County and New York City area.
“We are in discussions right now with an organization in Africa to help get them some computers,” Zajac said.
To help reach its donation goal, Computers 4 People is in need of donations and especially volunteers who can help refurbish computers and drive them to their new homes.
To find out more about Computers 4 People or to volunteer go to https://www.computers4people.org/.
To donate a desktop computer or much-needed laptop go to computers4people.org/donate.
To submit an application for a computer go to computers4people.org/apply.