I’m on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit called Free Geek Providence based in RI. Free Geek Providence provides a call to refurbish, reuse and recycle older computers. The organization also promotes the use of Linux, an open source operating system, as well as the open source ecosystem around it. I joined Free Geek Providence when it was starting up in 2008 and found it a perfect fit.
Access into modern society via technology is the new divide between the haves and the have-nots. As a result of this divide, we need to build bridges to bring back those people on the outside and introduce them to the skills needed as part of a computerized workforce.
The work we have done giving out free computers has benefited many nonprofits and individuals. Rhode Island Nurses Institute or RINI became the pilot for our Adopt a Classroom program. We installed 14 computers in a computer lab that students without computers at home could use to do their homework. An added benefit was exposure to the free operating system Linux. At first the students were uncomfortable using Linux because they were used to Microsoft Windows, but they soon made the switch and had no problem. Now those same students know that Linux and open source software is out there and can take advantage of it for the rest of their lives.