With the help of Revivn's donation of laptops, Oakland Impact Center's programs have been enriched with coding courses, robotics projects, and more. These hands-on experiences have ignited a passion for technology in the young minds they serve. We spoke with Eddie Ng, an Oakland Impact Center volunteer, about the importance of repurposing retired hardware for the community and the benefits of partnering with Revivn.
In your own words, can you tell me a little bit about what Oakland Impact Center does?
Impact is a nonprofit organization that provides academic outreach resources to inner-city children. Currently, we're serving Oakland, California. We’re really trying to reach children that are struggling academically. We provide a program on the weekends for kids from 2nd grade all the way up to middle school and have a middle school program for the 6th to 8th graders. We provide different academic enrichment programs like art, dancing, coding, robotics, and P.E.
How did you first hear about Revivn?
Through a friend of mine, he mentioned that I should reach out to Revivn, and I did. Prior to that, it was just word-of-mouth. I was asking fellow coworkers or having them ask their IT departments if they had any personal donations. It was pretty tough. We got maybe one or two laptops that way, so to have a set that Revivn has provided for us twice already has been very helpful for the kids.
Can you tell me about what you're using these laptops for?
With our Impact program, we have a 6-week computer coding course which we’ve facilitated twice now. The first time was mainly on using Scratch and code.org. There's an age-based curriculum just for kids so they can get exposed to it. It's almost like playing a game, so it makes it fun. The second time we used this program called MBO. You can download the software onto the computers and do some basic electronics in terms of playing a song or recording something. You can basically program. On our own, we bought some supplements like a robotics kit online and that software goes into the computer. That's how the kids are using the computer to explore these softwares.
What was your first interaction with Revivn like?
It was very easy and very positive. We explained our organization and had a couple meetings. Then, they asked for a photo or a video of what we're up to in terms of interacting with the kids or even the volunteers. We were very happy to provide that. It’s been overall a really great and smooth process, so thank you very much for that.
Can you think of a student's story or someone who went through your program, had access to this technology, and it really had a great impact on them?
One kid - he really loves computers. When he first came to our program, we happened to be teaching the robotics curriculum, and that really piqued his interest. He really looked forward to it and was always asking questions about what was next. It kept us teachers on our toes knowing that we needed to keep pushing the curriculum. These kids learn so quickly that their expectation is way beyond even our own. It pushes us to really do our homework and do our part because they're like sponges. For this particular kid, he's still been coming to our program since the robotics curriculum. That's one example of an inner-city kid who through word-of-mouth, came to our program and came away from it really stimulated.
Following up on that, is that the ultimate goal of Impact? To expose them to all these different facets of technology or music at a young age with the hope that they can either continue to pursue this or eventually get a career in it?
That's the direction that we’re heading towards. It's more of keeping the kids engaged, helping them to find school or learning fun and exciting. We're trying to do a lot of mentoring as well. Not just talking about academics, but also trying to get to know them and encourage them, so building that mentorship relationship is a big part of it. It would be wonderful if the kids continue to have an interest in technology so in a way, yes, we are planting those seeds and showing them that they can learn this stuff. And if they find it fun, hopefully in the future they'll become a computer science major or even be the next founder of Google.
If you were to speak to some of the partners and tech companies that we work with, why would you say it's so important for them to donate their retired hardware to organizations like yours?
It's such a good investment for organizations or companies to give back to communities. It really gives kids opportunities and early exposure to technology. Not only offering the hardware, but even if companies invested dollars in curriculum or funding, it’s only going to help them. It goes full circle because then you have more kids learning about computers and they're going to be applying to those jobs and working for those companies. So it's a win-win. I would definitely encourage companies to donate.
Learn more about the work that the Oakland Impact Center does at oaklandimpactcenter.org