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In 1991 Pat Furr, Bonnie Huntington and Cliff Neil approached Chico Unified School District about creating a volunteer program to refurbish donated computers for school use. After several meetings and discussions the district decided to give it a try. Starting out in a spare bedroom in Pat's home the program started on a very small scale to support education.
At this time teachers were heard to say, "I hope I retire before I have to learn how to use these (computers) in the classrooms". Many principals didn't know how to use email.
Pat had a background in teaching, business, public service as an elected school district trustee, and computers as she had attended CSU, Chico in the Master's program in Computer Science.
As the program expanded over the years, Pat and her volunteers were able receive larger quantities of donations and place greater quantities of computer in schools
After operating out of donated office space for several years, the program grew to the point of needing to lease space and even hire a technician. In August of 2001 CFC incorporated and has received the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS.
When schools had surplus computers after they received newer systems, we decided to assist low-income families and nonprofits as well by setting up systems too slow for classroom use but still great systems.
Computers for Classrooms was a beta tester for the Microsoft Community MAR (Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher) program. We are able to receive low cost lincenses from Microsoft for operating systems and office suites. The level of offerings has changed over the years but usually is one or two levels behind the current offerings.
CFC was one of the earliest programs to recognise the importance of data security and wiping hard drives. Our staff has invented some data wiping servers that not only wipes all data to United States Department of Defense (DOD) standards but reports any hard drives that have not been completely wiped. Any drives that are too small or don't wipe completely are DeGaussed in a special machine that sends a high magnetic pulse through the dirve that wipes all data but also destroys the drives for further use.
The IRS doantes computers to our program with usable hard drives. Our drives are wiped in a secure locked room by one technician.
CFC has been placing 5,000 computer systems per year and has handed out 40,000 working, guaranteed systems since the program's inception.
Presently, CFC occupies a 25,000 square foot facility with pallet racking, loading docks and our own 26 foot box van. Since reuse is 25 times better for the environment than just recycling, CFC is an important link in fulfilling a great need for technology to those who cannot afford to buy new systems. Work with us to close the digital divide.
Volunteers can earn a free computer system by working with us for 50 hours.
Each volunteer is given his own sign-in sheet. There are no requirements as far as time to volunteer or commitment for a certain time range or even time to complete the 50 hours. We try to make it as flexible for volunteers to spend time with us when they can.
One doesn't need prior experience as Payton is a good trainer. The volunteer will learn to take computers apart, add/remove RAM, remove the hard drives, learn to test components, set jumpers, run diagnostic programs, etc. This is a great experience for anyone wanting to learn about computers. It can be an invaluable opportunity for those learning about computer repairing as the volunteer has the chance to work on a very wide range of makes and models. Computer repair shops prefer to hire people with actual experience and not just certification.
We may allow those as young as 13 if they are mature and physically able to pick up computers without getting hurt. Anyone can volunteer and we have had people of all ages, types of disabilities and non-English speaking. There are no restrictions on volunteers such as low-income. We have had other volunteers earn a computer to be able to give it free to a low-income family or program that would benefit.
At the end of 50 hours, Debbie will help you select a computer system, fully loaded that includes our one year warranty.
- ozzie serrano
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