The idea for Computers without Borders (“CWB”) was conceived in the spring of 2011. Extensive research and infrastructure development led to the filing of our application for recognition of exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in June, 2013. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, CWB is quickly becoming “real” as the alchemy of belief, hard work and time commitment is bringing everything together beautifully. Our highlights rolling into the fall of 2013 include the following:
We are hoping to receive formal recognition of our federal exempt status during the last quarter of 2013.
Normandale Community College (Bloomington, MN)
Dean Cary Komoto of Normandale was kind enough to begin e-mail correspondence this summer and after our initial lunch meeting set up another meeting with several key Normandale staffers. We have now had three positive meetings with our Normandale partners and they are excited about trying to integrate CWB into their actual curriculum hopefully resulting in internships, study abroad programs and a host of other related activities.
We have offered to help Normandale organize a big community "e- recycling" event at the campus. We have the support of the city of Bloomington and one of the big (national) e- recycling companies located in the Twin Cities. We separately met with the sales manager for the company—MPC—and we are hopeful that we can convince him to work with CWB on a national and even global basis as an innovative way to help promote their recycling services, help sponsor and conduct re-use/recycling drives nationwide and serve as a logical place to donate (or sell inexpensively) the thousands of outmoded but serviceable computers and monitors they deal with every month.
“How to Get Started” Kit
Work is continuing on the getting started on our complete "how to get started" kit for schools considering coming on board.
Indigogo Campaign: coming soon!
Our biggest challenge so far has been in attempting to persuade other colleges and universities to become CWB “affiliates” so we will be able to get some "traction" necessary to attract the attention of all the big players in the various technology sectors (i.e., Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Cisco, Seagate, etc.) There is no doubt that it is not easy to find a person like Alan Heiman who started the amazing program at Cornell and has been able to lead the students and stay in constant contact with libraries or other on-and-off campus sources of computers.
We have started our attempts to do this by sending out 45 introductory e-mails to heads/chairs of computer science departments at U.S. schools ranging from MIT and Stanford to a number of smaller schools. In Minneapolis I was able to convince Dean Komoto from Normandale to join me for lunch which was instrumental in getting things started. But without a personal meeting it is hard to get anything beyond a brief "looks interesting" or "very impressive idea" comment. The chair at the U of Minnesota handed me off to an assistant who gave me the “cold shoulder”. I wasn't even able to persuade him to let me buy him lunch to talk further!
We have heard that every year Cornell has "club fest" in which all clubs are showcased, that is how they usually attract members. Hopefully we can find out how this is done at other schools across the nation.
Computers Without Borders
6615 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 806 Minneapolis, Minnesota 55423
We want to get the permission of our Normandale partners to also meet separately with the students to persuade them to start a "club" similar to the Cornell Computer Re-Use Association. We are developing application forms, charters, etc. modeled on forms available on the Boy Scouts of America web site to try to get this process started. We will separately invite individuals to become members of CWB and colleges/universities to become official "affiliates" or "chapters".
CWB Power Point Presentation
We have put together an exciting Power Point Presentation that tells the story of CWB and should be helpful.
Intuit Big Game Contest
Quick Start Program
To speed up the process of transitining from an “idea” to a reality, CWB has implemented the “Quick Start Program”. Several refurbished desktop PCs and monitors are being shipped to needy schools in Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Ecuador and the Philippines to get the CWB program off and running!
Digital Library Project
With the help of CWB’s first college interns, production of an amazing 1 TB "digital library" on a portable hard drive to be loaded with several thousand free digital books, the Khan Academy lectures, K-12 school curricula and lesson plans, computer lab curricula, etc. is getting started this fall.
The digital library project made us aware that we will also need to incorporate ESL into our strategic plan as most of the digital materials are only in English. The ESL component will also be started during the last quarter of 2013.