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PART ONE - The Organization
The technology revolution benefits many, but it also creates two serious problems. First, computers manufactured today have a very short life cycle. Large numbers of computers are deemed obsolete within two years and discarded. The National Safety Council reported that during 1997 more than 20 million computers reached obsolescence and only 11% were recycled or reused. At the current rate, by the year 2005, 350 million machines will become obsolete. Traditional methods of disposal of computer equipment have resulted in releasing dangerous toxins such as lead, chromium and mercury into the environment. In 2000, Oregon generated 46,353 tons of computer and electronic waste but only 1.33% was recovered. Without proper disposal or recycling of this technology, the resulting accumulation of toxic waste will create potentially disastrous results for the environment.
The second problem stemming from the advancement of computer technology is that many people lack even the most basic computer skills. This can deny them access to everything from getting on the Internet to getting a better job. In 1999 the U.S. Commerce Department reported that households with incomes of $75,000 and higher were twenty times more likely to have access to the Internet than households at the lowest income levels and nine times as likely to have a computer in the home. In 2000, the median income of a family of four in the Portland area was $53,700, below the national average of $62,228 . These technological advances are only going to accelerate in the coming years, resulting in more people being left behind.
The concept behind Free Geek is to use these problems to solve each other. Computers bound for the land fills can be refurbished into working, starter computers for those who cannot otherwise afford them. Individuals with little or no disposable income can be trained to help process the diverted computers for reuse or recycling, receiving one of the refurbished computers in exchange for their efforts. The result is less computer equipment in the landfills and more equipment being reused. In addition, a wide range of people get access to computers and the Internet that previously could not; a win, win situation for everyone involved, summed up in the Free Geek mission statement:
Free Geek recycles used technology to provide computers, education and job skills training to those in need, in exchange for community service.
1. Poison PC's and Toxic TV's, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, 2001.
2. 2000 Disposal and Recovery of Selected Materials Report, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
3. 2000 Portland Area Median Income, US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
4. 2000 Median income by state, US Census Bureau.
History of the Organization
Free Geek was envisioned by the current executive director, Oso Martín in February of 2000. He saw a need in the community for access to no-cost or low-cost computer technology. Oso further learned that the large amounts of electronic waste going into Portland's landfills was becoming an increasing problem, and that much of the computer hardware being tossed away was still usable. He felt these computers could be set up to perform Internet, word processing, and other basic computing functions. Oso envisioned a non-profit organization that would serve two needs in the community at the same time: recycling electronic waste and helping to bridge the digital divide; and so, Free Geek was born. Oso quickly documented his ideas and published them on a website (www.freegeek.org) hoping to garner some interest. Within weeks of creating the first web page, Jim Deibele, former CEO and founder of Teleport, saw the information online and contacted Oso with a pledge of possible financial support to get things started. Oso presented the concept to Jim and convinced him to fund an exploratory venture to test the theory.
The next step in turning this concept into a working non-profit was to assemble a board of directors. An early milestone was the guidance and support of Anne Castleton, a visiting speech professor at Portland State University. With Anne's help a series of workshops were conducted to create the mission statement and bylaws as well as recruit potential board members. Along with Jim Deibele, Oso also recruited Laura Berg, a public relations consultant with many years of non-profit board experience, and attorney Ken McGair from the office of Davis, Wright, Tremaine, LLP, who currently provides pro bono legal council for the organization. With Jim's $35,000 of start up funding in hand, Free Geek was on it's way.
Next was the establishment of the Community Technology Center. This serves as a central location for donated hardware to be dropped off and processed. It also provides a place where volunteers can work together, sharing their knowledge and experience. From the very start, computer enthusiasts saw the potential of the idea and quickly formed a core volunteer group that would begin to develop the technology needed to run the operation efficiently and at the lowest possible cost.
Soon after the Community Technology Center opened, several articles appeared in the local media and quickly spread the word about Free Geek. Donated hardware began flooding in. So did the volunteers, from all walks of life and with widely varied technical backgrounds; from computer industry professionals wanting to lend a helping hand, to laid off construction workers looking to trade their free time for a refurbished computer. People from all over the Portland area and beyond participate in the program.
In a very short time, Free Geek has gone from an experiment, to a viable organization with a proven track record. Free Geek was recognized as a Founder of a New Northwest by Sustainable Northwest in May of 2003. Free Geek is regularly sought out by elected officials, government agencies and recycling advocates asking our advice and input on how to deal with the growing problems of electronic waste and bridging the digital divide. In the past year several nascent organizations around the country have been inquiring about how they can build on the work we have started. To that end, Free Geek is encouraging and supporting a sister project in the mid-west. Dubbed Free Geek-Michiana, this group has begun operations in South Bend, Indiana using some of the software and documentation that we have developed. Another group is exploring using our concept in Sheffield, England. We receive several inquires every month from around the world, wondering how this work can be replicated. Free Geek does everything we can do to help.
During our first three years Free Geek was awarded nearly $124,000 in grants, including our first two successful grants for 2003: $20,000 from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and $5,000 from the City of Portland. During this same period we have raised over $110,000 through donations and sales. We have progressed from an organization that was 96% supported by grants in 2000, to one that was only 19% grant funded in 2002 - with a 362% increase in our budget during the same time period. Heading into our forth year, Free Geek is ready to expand our operations to increase the impact we have on the environment and the community and generate enough income so that we will be completely self-sufficient by the end of 2005.
Primary Free Geek Programs
Utilizing our central location, Free Geek is a convenient place for individuals, organizations and small businesses to recycle computer equipment they no longer use. By accepting all computer equipment, in any condition, we make the choice of where to go to dispose of computers a simple one. Everyone who drops off computers for recycling is offered a guided tour of the facility and is shown how the program works and what happens to the donated equipment. We then ask for a voluntary cash donation to support our program. Approximately 67% of our customers need to dispose of monitors. Free Geek charges a $10 disposal fee for any and all monitors dropped of at our facility. Beyond the required monitor fees, over half of all recycling customers make a voluntary financial contribution in appreciation for the work they see being done to protect the environment and to help others. Computer donations are the exclusive source of computer hardware for both Free Geek's infrastructure and the equipment provided back to the community. As part of the recycling process, non-repairable and obsolete equipment is broken down into its base commodities such as steel, aluminum, and copper. These materials are then sold on the open market through our recycling partners. Sale of recycled materials provides a significant income stream to support operations.
Free Geek's flagship program, Earn a Computer enables individuals to exchange work in our recycling operation for a starter computer system of their very own. During their time at Free Geek, clients are exposed to computers on several different levels. Clients work in three basic areas, receiving, recycling and testing. In receiving they learn to identify hardware and become familiar with the use of the mouse, keyboard and a graphical user interface. In recycling, clients learn about how the various pieces fit together and come apart. Testing teaches the clients how to insert and remove various components from the computer and how to run diagnostic software. After completing 24 hours of work, clients receive their computer and a introductory class on how to set it up and use it.
One of the more technically demanding programs, the Build a Computer program creates all the computers needed for our other programs. Volunteers are taught how to build computers working exclusively with used parts. The tested hardware is assembled into standardized desktop computers that are then loaded with an operating system and applications software. Each system passes a quality control test before it released to a client, or as we say, "adopted". Volunteers agree to complete six computer systems in exchange for the training in how to do it. After completing six systems, volunteers are eligible to keep the sixth computer for themselves. The remaining five computers are distributed into the community through our Earn a Computer and Computers for Kids programs.
The education program began with the notion that "If we give someone their first computer, we need to teach them how to use it." The Introduction to your FreekBox class is the core of a curriculum that has been expanded to include computer building, Linux command line basics and advanced computer programing languages such as Perl and Python. Volunteer teachers work together to organize classes, as well as documenting all of Free Geek's procedures to help train clients and volunteers working in any area. Education is ongoing for clients and volunteers from the moment they enter Free Geek, to long after they receive their computers and have it set up in their homes. We believe that everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. The education program focuses that energy to provide the latest in computer skills development for an extremely low cost. Volunteering time, taking classes and the hands on experience with computers are also excellent resume builders for computer professionals looking to increase their chances for employment.
COMPUTER THRIFT STORE
Free Geek receives more equipment than can be refurbished efficiently. In addition, the equipment donated does not arrive in equal amounts (i.e. approximately ten keyboards are donated for every computer). This surplus equipment and other donations that have some retail value but do not meet other program requirements, are sold through the Free Geek Computer Thrift Store. Monitors, printers, keyboards, cables and speakers are among the many items available in the store. This ensures that good, usable equipment gets back into circulation, rather than being broken down for raw materials recovery. Free Geek also sells various products such as t-shirts, mugs, stickers and crafts made from recycled computer parts. The thrift store plays a vital part of the Free Geek financial strategy for self-sufficiency.
Secondary Free Geek Programs
Clients and volunteers can learn how to repair and refurbish printers. This program refurbishes both inkjet and laser printers, making them available for adoption or sale in the thrift store. Printers that are beyond our expertise to repair are then evaluated and parted out for our own repair program or are sold to printer remanufacturing companies. Inkjet cartridges are removed from all printers and evaluated. Good cartridges are used in the repaired printers or sold in the thrift store. Bad and empty cartridges are sold to cartridge remanufactures. The Printer Refurbishing program also evaluates and repairs non-computer related consumer electronics such as fax machines, stereos, VCRs and telephones. Repaired and tested electronics are sold in the Free Geek Thrift Store.
RECYCLED COMPUTER CRAFTS
Free Geek creates and sells crafts made from recycled computer parts. Selected items from the salvage process are separated out. Volunteers then craft the various objects into several different products. Our most popular item is a wind chime made from obsolete hard drive platters. We also make magnetic computer chip broaches and RAM chip key chains. Artists and craftspersons from the Portland metropolitan area come to Free Geek to rummage through our scrap materials for inspiration and raw materials. Artists pay equivalent market rates for the materials they acquire.
INTERNET ACCESS POINTS
Free Geek provides the hardware and technical support for several free internet access terminals in Southeast Portland. Our current locations are at Resource Conservation Credit Union at 1910 SE 11th Avenue, The Red & Black Café at 2138 SE Division Street and the Back to Back Café at 628 E Burnside. Free Geek offers this service to community minded organizations and businesses that provide free public access to the computer and the Internet.
Free Geek sponsors an annual Geek Fair fund raiser. This year's fair is an all day block party on Sunday, June 29th. The event will be held on the block that the Free Geek Community Technology Center fronts and will feature information booths from several local organizations, live music, food and refreshments, a sidewalk sale and a raffle. The event is cosponsored by KBOO 90.7 Community Radio, The City Repair Project, Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program, Hosford-Abernathy Neighborhood District (HAND) and Computer Bits Magazine.
Non-profit organizations can receive computer equipment for free, work trade or at an extremely reduced cost. We recently had an opportunity to help the Portland based humanitarian aid organization, Mercy Corps, by providing more than two hundred computer monitors, keyboards and mice as well as a nearly two dozen laser printers for shipment to schools in El Salvador to help bridge the global technology divide. We have helped send complete computer systems to Ecuador and are working on projects to send equipment to Argentina and Nigeria. Free Geek gives all donated Apple computer equipment to Mac Renewal, a Eugene, Oregon based organization run by Lorraine Kerwood. She is able to use the majority of the Apple architecture based equipment, refurbishing it and giving it to low income families, elders and the disabled. In 2003, Free Geek will establish a short grants process for non-profits to apply for help from Free Geek. Assistance will be granted based on need and other factors to be determined by staff and the board of directors. See Appendix B for a list of non-profit organizations to whom Free Geek has provided technology assistance.
Free Geek provides a modest benefits package for individuals that donate money through an annual supporting membership program. This allows people to support Free Geek financially, while getting some of the benefits of being an active volunteer. For more information about the supporting memberships program see Appendix C.
Free Geek participates as a stake holder in the EPA funded, WEPSI (Western Electronic Product Stewardship Initiative) process. WEPSI is a working group of computer and electronics manufacturers, industrial electronics recyclers, local and regional governments and non-government organizations (NGO). Input from Free Geek is being used to help develop guidelines for a nationwide program of low cost computer reuse and recycling processing nodes. The action plan from phase one of the process was published in August of 2002 and is available online at www.wepsi.org. Phase two is due to start in the spring of 2003.
REUSE AND RECYCLING CONSULTING SERVICES
FREE GEEK provides computer recycling and reuse consulting services at a very competitive rate. Free Geek is currently consulting for the City of Vancouver, Washington to help their CREAM (Computer REuse And Marketing) Project. Free Geek is providing refurbishing and reuse training to faculty and students at Clark College. In addition, we are helping the recycling end of the program, showing the best methods for disassembly of electronic waste and responsible marketing of the salvaged materials.
Free Geek People
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Brent Campbell, President
[contact info deleted]
Brent is currently the systems administrator for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. He has worked in both technical and managerial positions at technology companies such as Abacus Computers and Symantec. Educated at Oregon State University, Brent has also worked in Kenya with the Peace Corps. He joined the board in June 2000, and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Dennis Bridges, Director
[contact info deleted]
Dennis has almost 20 years of experience in the printing industry including 7 years as an environmental engineer. He is also certified as a Six Sigma Quality and Process Improvement Consultant. Dennis is currently the publisher and editor of Computer Bits magazine. As a director, Dennis heads up Computers for Kids, a new FREE GEEK project that strives to provide free educational computers to at-risk kids in the Portland area. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Michele Brooks, Director
[contact info deleted]
Michele has over 15 years of organizational development experience. She holds a Masters of Science degree in organizational development from Pepperdine University. She has been facilitating meetings and consulting with non-profit organizations since 1996. She is particularly devoted to issues of sustainability, community building and environmentalism. She joined the board in January 2002 and lives in Portland, Oregon.
James Deibele, Director
[contact info deleted]
Jim founded and was CEO of Teleport, Inc. the largest Internet service provider in the Pacific Northwest. After selling his share of the the company in 1999, Jim began to pursue other entrepreneurial ventures while giving time to various causes that promote computer access and education. Jim previously owned and operated Tech Books, a computer book store in Beaverton, Oregon. He joined the board in June 2000, and lives in Vancouver, Washington.
Mark Niemann-Ross, Director
[contact info deleted]
Mark is the Third-Party Developer Evangelist for Adobe Systems. He has worked for all of the major graphic arts software companies, including Quark, and Extensis. He also teaches a beginning programming class at the Metropolitan Learning Center. Mark became involved in FREE GEEK when his youngest son announced his interest in building a computer. Mark joined the board in January 2003 and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Oso Martín, Executive Director
Oso has been working with computers since 1982. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural studies from Arizona State University. As an architect, he practiced for over 10 years in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area and Portland, Oregon. He currently volunteers with the City Repair Project, helping to organize Portland's Earth Day festivities. Oso developed the original concept of Free Geek, starting with a handful of old computers that he fixed up and gave to local community activists. Oso is responsible for management, program development, fund raising and electronic recycling best practices manager. He was hired in June 2000, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Richard Seymour, Production Coordinator
Richard has worked as a computer programmer and database designer for the last 18 years. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, he founded the St. Paul-Ciudad Romero Sister City Project, leading the Mayor's delegation to El Salvador. He oversees the production program and teaches computer building classes. Richard also oversees the design and implementation of Free Geek software projects, including the database. He began volunteering at Free Geek in August of 2000, and was hired in July of 2001. Richard lives in Portland, Oregon.
Laurel Hoyt, Education Coordinator
Laurel attended Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, pursuing a degree in Anthropology and Integrated Arts. She has done computer technical support, web design and editing for over five years. Laurel oversees the education program, organizes volunteer teachers, schedules classes and ensures that members receive their computers, classes and any technical support they need. She began volunteering at Free Geek in November of 2000, and was hired in July of 2001. Laurel currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Marlin Sweitzer, Operations Coordinator
Marlin worked at IBM for eleven years and United Data Processing for five years. Marlin came to Free Geek with many years of volunteer service with the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center and the Neighborhood Pride Team in Lents. Marlin keeps the production and recycling programs running smoothly, while training clients to work in the Earn a Computer program. Marlin was hired in June of 2002. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Rick Konold, Sales Coordinator
Rick worked for over 25 years as a plumbing contractor, but always had a great interest in computers and computer networks. Rick coordinates the sale of excess computer equipment through the Free Geek thrift store. He is responsible for stocking the store and researching price information. Rick also coordinates volunteer staffing of the store and coordinates with the production program to determine the quantities of equipment that are available for sale. Rick was hired in August 2002. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Staff funded by other programs
SMS (Seniors Make Sense) and the National Council On the Aging provides job training and placement services for seniors. SMS and NCOA pay for salaries and workers compensation. SMS currently provides three and NCA provides one part-time employee to help us run the daily operation. In exchange, Free Geek provides job skills training to help these individuals obtain good jobs in the future. We are proud that we were able to hire our current operations coordinator and receptionist after they had completed the SMS program.
Computer professionals, and others with a wide variety of skill sets, perform a great number of highly technical tasks for our organization. Many of our volunteers are organized into groups. All of the groups have access to several information sharing technologies. Supported by our network, staff and volunteers use e-mail lists, web based work spaces and shared electronic calendars to facilitate communication.
Administration Systems & Security - The original core group of volunteers, this group maintains our very sophisticated computer network and infrastructure. Like everything else, our network is constructed with donated hardware and volunteer energy. Our network is extremely secure and it provides an excellent example for volunteers that wish to learn about networks and network administration.
Education - Volunteer computer and education professionals work together to provide the Free Geek education curriculum. Volunteer teachers teach nearly all classes offered at Free Geek. Classes range from the Introduction to your FreekBox class for computer adopters to computer building and printer repair. Volunteer teachers have also organized specialized advanced courses such as Programming in Perl and SQL Basics (database design).
Coders - Programming professionals and volunteers learning computer languages contribute to the many custom software applications that are developed to streamline and organize all operations. Free Geek software projects are structured like real world jobs, and participating volunteers get credit for being part of the software development team. It is an excellent resume builder for the volunteers, while at the same time Free Geek gets quality custom software designed and implemented for almost no cost.
Hardware - Computer experts and hobbyists combine their talents to research and test the vast array of donated hardware. The hardware group determines its best future use and aids the education of builders with trouble shooting techniques and refining any testing procedures. The hardware group also participates in providing technical support for our refurbished computer systems.
Distro - Volunteers from the education and production programs, coders and hardware groups combine their areas of expertise to develop and improve the software profile that is installed on Free Geek FreekBox computers. This group collects data from Free Geek computer recipients on an ongoing basis. This data is then used to improve the quality and ease of use of our computer systems and the orientation process.
Fundraising - Volunteers bring many talents to the table, from grant writing to retail sales experience. The fundraising group works to help ensure that Free Geek has the resources that it needs to keep operating and expanding to meet the needs of the community. Fundraising also organizes special fundraising events such as our annual Geek Fair.
Free Geek Council - Made up of board members, staff and volunteers, the Council provides a forum for individuals to participate in guiding Free Geek as the organization continues to grow and evolve. Membership is open to all and all decisions are made using a consensus process. Council helps to shape how the policies set by the board of directors are implemented. The Council helps to develop the criteria for technology assistance grants and evaluates grant applicants for eligibility and need.
Free Geek clients come to us for help because they are on the wrong side of the digital divide for any number of reasons. Clients can earn a computer from our program by simply helping out. Just 24 hours of service earns the recipient an Internet ready computer and a orientation class on how to use it. Clients are eligible to take other Free Geek computer classes for free. During the entire process clients get basic computer training; they learn how use a mouse and keyboard, how to enter data and how to use a web browser. Free Geek exposes our clients to an overview of computer hardware: what components make up a computer system, how the components are tested and how they work together. Our clients also learn the methods of recycling electronic waste while helping the environment.
Free Geek does not collect income, religious or ethnic background information from our donors, customers, clients or volunteers. We do collect information on where they live and generate reports of community impact and involvement based on the number of donors, customers, clients and volunteers by zip code area. We have the most impact in SE Portland, concentrated in the zip codes closest to the Free Geek Community Technology Center. More importantly, we have a significant impact that reaches well beyond SE Portland, ranging over the entire metropolitan area, as well as the rest of Oregon and southern Washington state. Please see attached community impact report in Appendix B.
During the initial start-up phase of Free Geek, a few articles in the local media resulted in more donations and clients than we had the capacity for. We quickly developed a waiting list that was over 3 months long. Subsequently, Free Geek did not have an aggressive outreach campaign during the first two years. During this time period we limited ourselves to our website and tabling at community events such as Earth Day and The Procession of the Species. The Free Geek website (www.freegeek.org) currently receives an average of over 4,000 daily unique visitors every month. In addition, Free Geek is listed in the Portland Green Map, the ReDirect Guide (a phone book for environmentally conscious businesses), the Metro Recycling Hotline and the Solid Waste and Recycling web sites for the cities of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.
In the last six month period, Free Geek has made some amazing progress, refining our process and reducing the waiting list to a much more manageable 2-3 weeks. During the same time period, we started our computer thrift store project. More outreach is not only possible, but necessary. To that end we now receive a donated monthly full page ad for our Computers for Kids project in Computer Bits magazine valued at $1,000 per month and several donated weekly ads in the Willamette Week valued at $175 per week. A modest advertising budget has been factored into the project that will provide for steady exposure in the local weekly and monthly publications.
Success to Date
HOW SUCCESS IS MEASURED
Effectiveness is measured in the impact we have on the community through recycling and education. Free Geek's volunteer designed database allows easy tracking of success in both categories. Every significant computer component donated is cataloged into the database. The current status of all donated equipment is tracked and reported monthly. Each of Free Geek's commercial recycling partners provides us with weight reports for processed and recovered materials. These totals are included in our monthly reports. Free Geek also tracks the number of classes provided, the number of students, the number of client hours donated, the number of equipment donors, and how many computers are placed back into the community though the adoption program or though sales in the thrift store. In addition, Free Geek tracks the number of visitors to the website, providing a good indication of the success of our outreach efforts. Please see program performance data in Appendix B.
Since opening our doors in September of 2000 we have accepted the donation of over 80,000 computers and computer components. In the process we have recycled over 200 tons of electronic scrap, recovering the metals and plastics. Volunteers have refurbished over 1,800 computer systems, that are back in use in the community. We have also tested and redistributed an additional 11,500 components and peripheral devices. Over 350 volunteers have helped more than 1,900 clients go through the system. More than 50 local non-profit organizations have received computer equipment and/or technical assistance. Please see program performance data in Appendix B.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
In June of 2001, Free Geek's Executive Director, Oso Martín, was presented an E-chievment Award from the National Public Radio program, E-Town, in recognition of his work to make "a positive difference in his community and beyond".
In November of 2002, Free Geek was named a Founder of the New Northwest by Sustainable Northwest. Along with 23 other groups and individuals, Free Geek was recognized as a leader in sustainable business and economic practices in the northwestern United States. Free Geek will be profiled in a book to be published by Sustainable Northwest in May 2003. Free Geek received the award at the 2003 Sustainability Forum awards banquet in May 2003.
5. E-Town website, www.etown.org.
6. Sustainable Northwest website, www.sustainablenorthwest.org.
PART TWO - The Expansion Project
The Need for the Project
The Free Geek Expansion Project is needed so that Free Geek can better address several growing needs in the Portland Metropolitan area. The expansion project addresses many needs of the local community and for the long term health and stability of Free Geek.
Free Geek exceeded our own projections on the amount of electronic waste the facility would recycle in 2001 by more than 150%, pushing our capacity to its absolute limit. Given our current space restrictions, this problem is only going to get worse. Lack of capacity to keep up with the donation stream could lead to enforcing restrictions on the types of equipment that we can accept during daily operations. Restricted drop off of computers will diminish the number of environmentally friendly options for the public to discard of unwanted equipment. Free Geek currently maintains a waiting list that is over a month long for people to participate in the Earn-a-Computer program. Build-a-Computer workshops are often booked over three weeks in advance. Any specialized classes offered through the education program are filled to capacity and many times potential students are turned away for lack of space.
Long Term Sustainability
In order to maximize the cost effectiveness of volunteer and client supervision, the current staff works part time for wages that are far below market rate and no health benefits. Everyone on the staff collectively agreed to sacrifice income for the continued growth of the organization during the start-up phase. This sacrifice has enabled Free Geek to make it through this period within our financial means. However, for the long term health and sustainability of the organization, the staff needs a living wage and reasonable health benefits. To this end, Free Geek is seeking to expand general operations and consulting services to increase the amount of income generated each month to the point of self reliance.
Non-profit Technology Costs
Non-profit organizations in the Portland Metro area are in constant struggle for survival. Ever diminishing resources are being stretched further and further. Still, local non-profit organizations spend thousands of dollars on computer upgrades and software licenses on an alarmingly frequent basis. Most operations that non-profits need to perform on their computers can be accomplished using Open Source Software. Open Source is software that is freely available to download and use without licensing fees. Additionally, the hardware resources required to run Open Source software are greatly reduced. The life of any hardware currently in use would be greatly extended. New hardware needs show substantial savings by not needing to purchase the latest (and most expensive) hardware, instead making use of much less expensive or free used equipment.
Help for At-risk Youth
With the schools funding crisis making national headlines, it is obvious that there is going to be less funding for technology education in the near future. Taken together with the probable demise of the StRUT (Students Recycling Used Technology) program, the resource base to help kids get any kind of computer and technology related education is shrinking almost daily. If kids are going to make it in the modern economy, more technology based education and resources need to be made available.
The Expansion will be accomplished in concurrent three phases if fully funded. Funding priorities are Phase II, followed by Phase III, as these two phases are income generators that will allow for a scaled down version of Phase I to be accomplished with the least amount of impact on the overall plan for self-sustainability within the given time frame.
Facility Expansion - modifying the existing building to best utilize the available space.
- Project cost: $42,528
- Matching funds: $11,500 (DEQ Grant)
- Requested funds: $31,028
Long Term Capacity Building - stabilizing and expanding our current programs to take advantage of increased facilities and increase revenue generation to the point of self-reliance.
- Project cost: $275,227
- Matching funds: $117,359 (includes $8500 DEQ Grant)
- Requested funds: $157,868
Programs Expansion - funding two new projects that will help distribute the increased production of refurbished computer systems in ways that increase both our impact on the local community and our income stream.
Collaborative Technology Project - Provides consulting services so that local non-profits can access to Open Source technology and training, reducing their technology costs.
- Project Cost: $43,793
- Matching Funds: $20,902
- Requested Funds: $22,898
Computers For Kids - Provides computers and education to "At-risk" youth in the Portland Metropolitan Area.
- Project Cost: $21,570
- Matching Funds: $10,295
- Requested Funds: $11,278