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Can't Afford New Classroom Computers? Try This

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You’ve trimmed your technology budget again. Meanwhile, some of your schools still put up with computers from the Stone Age, and something has to give. You just hope that ‘something’ isn’t another aging computer. Meanwhile, each school's computer lab serves an increasing number of special-needs and English language learners every day. And therein lies the problem. Where can a busy administrator find affordable--maybe even free--computers for classrooms?

You’ve trimmed your technology budget again. Meanwhile, some of your schools still put up with computers from the Stone Age, and something has to give. You just hope that ‘something’ isn’t another aging computer.

Cartoon version of computer with Imagine Learning on screenMeanwhile, each school's computer lab serves an increasing number of special-needs and English language learners every day. And therein lies the problem.

Where can a busy administrator find affordable--maybe even free--computers for classrooms?

Look to These Organizations

If you’ve ever wondered what businesses do with retired computers, you’re not alone. Many companies want to invest in the larger community by donating used equipment. But not every business has time.

Luckily, the following organizations can help:

The National Cristina Foundation

Established in the 1990s, the National Cristina Foundation matches computers and related equipment to various schools and non-profit groups throughout the country. To better fit schools’ needs, the NCF also tracks each school’s equipment needs and program requirements.

In particular, the NCF supports schools with larger populations of economically disadvantaged or at-risk students.

To watch the foundation’s video and fill out an application, visit the NCF website.

Computers for Learning

School districts can also find used technology at Computers for Learning, a government organization that transfers equipment from each donating agency directly to schools. Just follow these directions:

  1. Register online at computersforlearning.gov and supply a current NCES number to gain a User ID.
  2. Next, request computers and peripheral equipment at the website. Remember to request equipment that matches your software specifications!
  3. Refurbish the equipment (if required) before you install it on site. You’ll also pay for shipping, so adjust your budget accordingly.
CFS also features lists of frequently asked questions and success stories on its website, so glance at those before you apply for used equipment.

Find Local Options

Of course, if you already know local businesses that supply used technology to schools, find a way to put your school's name at the top of their donation lists.

You may also find luck at a local computer recycling center. For example, California residents can inquire at the California Computer Recycling Center for further help. If you live in another state, check online to see if a similar center exists in your community.

 

Need additional help with grants and funding? Review our smart checklist.

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