Teen-led nonprofit works to close Digital Divide in the Northeast
Hoboken, New Jersey (October 18, 2022) - In April, Connected Nation (CN) hosted the National Kids Tech Summit sponsored by AT&T to challenge K-12 students to use their digital skills to help their communities. Four student-led organizations were named finalists in the competition. Computers 4 People was one of them — the nonprofit took third place and received a $3,500 prize.
Computers 4 People provides refurbished computers to individuals and organizations in under-resourced communities to promote equity and access. It was founded by 19-year-old Executive Director, Dylan Zajac. CN was first introduced to Zajac back in 2021 when Jessica Denson, CN Communications Director, spoke with him about the importance of closing the Digital Divide. He then went on to be a guest on Connected Nation’s award-winning podcast.
Later that year, Computers 4 People was one of the nonprofit organizations to receive hotspots from CN and the AT&T Connected Learning Program. In 2022, when Zajac learned that CN was offering another opportunity that could benefit his organization while also raise awareness about the Digital Divide, entering the competition was a no-brainer.
Zajac competed in the Kids Tech Summit with his friend and longtime Computers 4 People volunteer, Micah Goodman, who created the organization’s Computers 4 People 4 Teens program.
“We saw a lot of opportunity and potential for the program,” said Zajac. “I knew Micah would be a great class facilitator because of his personal skills and how well he knows computers.”
While the program ended up placing third, it has received a lot of positive attention from the event. In fact, the pair has been very busy in the months following the summit.
They started holding Computers 4 People 4 Teens classes in August. In each class, Goodman teaches about five students at a time how to build a computer from scratch. They start by identifying each piece of the computer and what it does, then assemble the machine, and install Windows operating systems.
Students who attend these classes come from all over the New Jersey/New York area. They also come from other nonprofit organizations, including Community Lifestyle. Kids in this program take the class as part of their summer camp. Once students are done building their computers, they can take those machines home and use them for school.
Community Lifestyle is just one of many nonprofits Computers 4 People works with. Others include: Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County, Jersey City Housing Authority, and local libraries.
Zajac and Goodman certainly have a lot to celebrate. They recently hit a major goal — Computers 4 People has donated 1,000 computers since it was founded. They hosted a live fundraising event on August 25 to mark this milestone and raise money for their programs.
“We are very happy with how the program is turning out,” said Zajac. “Without the push of the competition, this may not have even become a program, so we are thankful for CN for making us become more creative and innovative.”
To learn more about Computers 4 People 4 Teens or the Kids Tech Summit, click on the links below!
- Teens teaching teens to build a more digitally diverse and equitable world
- One teen’s mission to close the Digital Divide and what he’s asking YOU to do about it
- Kids Tech Summit full video
- Computers 4 People website