In this month’s blog, we talk with our newest Tech Trainer, Nia Turner, about her efforts to bring the services of PCs for People to the Heights Community.
You’re the lead tech trainer for this project. Can you tell us what PCs for People is?
PCs for People is a nonprofit organization that aims to bridge the digital divide by connecting low-income families and individuals with low-cost or free technology like hotspots and computers so that they can more easily access schoolwork, telehealth visits, job applications, online shopping, and other essential online services. They’re able to do this by collecting equipment donations from government agencies, businesses, and individuals and refurbishing them.
Why PCs for People and not some other organization?
We’ve known about PCs for People for some time, and have been mentioning them to patrons who were looking for low-cost technology. I’m personally a big fan of their mission and their dedication to keeping usable technology out of the landfill. We’ve found other opportunities to work with PCs for People on future projects, so forming this partnership with them seemed like a no-brainer!
What is the library’s involvement with this program?
Heights Libraries, and more specifically the HKIC Computer Center at the Lee Road branch, serves as a pick-up location for customers who go through the application process and are approved for a device. This is faster and more convenient than traveling to a different city if you are in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community.
Are these brand new PCs?
The desktop computers or laptops that customers receive are not brand new–they are refurbished by PCs for People. However, the equipment is often donated by businesses that gently use the computers or have them replaced on a regular basis, so they are in great shape!
Does a qualified applicant just get a desktop computer or are there other technologies available?
Desktop computers, laptops, and hotspots are being offered through the library pick-up program. Hotspots can also be requested for free, but there is a low monthly charge for Internet service. If customers are interested in other computer accessories, such as speakers, they can be purchased directly from PCs for People online or in-store.
How does someone sign up to get a PC from PCs for People?
Registration for a computer or hotspot from PCs for People is quick and easy! It can be done from any computer at pcsforpeople.com/ohio. From this site, select which county you will be picking up your device from and begin the application process. Persons wanting to pick their device up from Heights Libraries should select Cuyahoga county and our location at 2345 Lee Road.
Applicants will need an email address, as all communications from PCs for People will come through email. Applicants also need to upload a photo ID and proof of income eligibility. This includes Medicaid documents, Social Security benefit statements, Pell Grant award documents, Head Start documents, or other proof of enrollment in income-based government assistance programs. The full list of accepted documents can be found at pcsforpeople.com/eligibility.
Once the application is complete, PCs for People will review the application and send an email once your device is ready for pickup.
Can a qualified applicant pick a PC up at any of our four branches?
At this time, a PC can only be picked up in the HKIC at the Lee Road branch of Heights Libraries.
If a person gets a PC through this program and it breaks, do they contact the HKIC?
If there is an issue with the computer’s hardware (meaning the physical computer or monitor) a customer should contact PCs for People so that they can be connected with someone who is authorized to repair it. Each computer comes with a 90-day warranty, so it can be repaired for free in most cases. After 90 days, repairs cost $25.
If a customer would like to learn more about using their new computer, accessing the Internet, or working with Microsoft Office they can contact the HKIC to take a computer class or set up a one-on-one Tech Expert appointment. Go to Heightslibrary.org for more information.
What does a recipient of a PC do with the PC when they are finished using it?
When receiving equipment from PCs for People, customers agree to not resell the computer. PCs for People will accept their working computer back as a donation or to recycle if customers who wish to upgrade to a newer PC.
Is there any other information you wish to share with us about PCs for People?
We’re thrilled to work with PCs for People to provide technology that is going to make a real impact on our community! If anyone has questions about this program or about filling out the application, give us a call or visit us in the HKIC at the Lee Road branch and we’re happy to answer them.