Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Technology Task Force
by Perry Klein, Chair
The SWNA Technology Task Force has been established to help reduce the “digital divide” within our community. For the past several years, SWNA’s Technology Task Force has collected surplus computers from the community in order to refurbish them and make them available to needy families, primarily in the public housing projects in Southwest (James Creek, Syphax and Greenleaf). We have collected several hundred donated computers, including nearly 300 from the Graduate School USA and over 200 from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, both located in Southwest DC. We receive software at low cost through Techsoup which arranges software for non-profits, and SWNA is also established as a Registered Microsoft Refurbisher, which makes it possible to obtain Microsoft Windows and Office software at very low cost. Still, it averages around $100 to refurbish a computer.
In 2012, we set up several computer laboratories at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School, and continued to maintain computer centers that we had set up at Syphax Gardens and Greenleaf Gardens Midrise public housing administered by their Resident Council offices. The Syphax Gardens computer center has been used for SWNA’s “Computer-for-Kids” program, the free eight-week training program run by volunteers of SWNA’s Youth Activities Task Force and described in their report. We delivered desktop computers to families whose youngsters completed the program. We have also been refurbishing notebook computers and made several available for needy college-bound students in support of SWNA’s Scholarship Task Force program.
During the summer we provided internships to two young adults from Greenleaf Gardens public housing in our neighborhood, to train them to rebuild computers and help install them for our new computer centers. These were funded by a grant from the Friends of Southwest DC and individual donations.
SWNA Interns Duane Patterson and Andre Wilkinson, with Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson at one of the computer labs the interns set up at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School.