The idea for PCs for People came about when Andy Elofson was a social worker in Blue Earth County, Minnesota. He gave one of his clients a computer the county wasn’t using anymore, and the young man was able to start a business creating websites for local businesses.
PCs for People is now a nonprofit headquartered in St. Paul with offices throughout Minnesota as well as in Denver. They work with businesses, government agencies, and residents to recycle and refurbish computers to give to low-income people. Recipients must be below 200% poverty level or be enrolled in a government assistance program based on income.
In 2010, PCs for People started PCs for Kids, an initiative to provide elementary students with home computers. Families must be below 150% poverty level to receive a computer; if more than 75% of a school qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch, all students attending that school are eligible. Distribution of computers occurs at local events hosted by schools or other organizations. Families receive basic training to familiarize themselves with their computers before taking them home. PCs for People usually partners with a local organization to fund computers and organize the distribution event.
Another initiative, Vibrant Communities, provides computers for adults looking for work. The program is a partnership with workforce centers and is aligned with digital literacy training and career development. PCs for People also has their own training, internship, and volunteer opportunities to learn about hardware and software repair as well as computer refurbishing.