Stacked laptops for resale.

Commissioner Rubio hopes the donated computers will help bridge the digital divide. | Plus69/Shutterstock

A Portland, Ore. commissioner announced the city would be donating its old computers to nonprofit Free Geek to be redistributed, urging businesses to do so too.

Commissioner Carmen Rubio in a letter wrote, “This is a call to action to join the city’s efforts to create a digitally connected community.” 

“The city, like any organization, must keep pace with technology evolution through regular lifecycle replacement of city computers,” she explained. “Through a partnership with Free Geek, a local nonprofit focused on refurbishing technology to give back to our community at no or low cost, the city is using its electronics donation to further its service impact and help address an important community need, the digital divide.” 

She noted that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Free Geek delivered 4,258 devices, connecting 5,380 individuals to support services. All of those served were 200% below the federal poverty line, and many belonged to marginalized communities. 

Rubio reassured other businesses that their data would be secure, adding, “The city is confident in turning over our computers to Free Geek because it takes data security very seriously” and follows NIST data sanitization standards. 

“We hope you will join us in recognizing that the societal cost of digital inequality is great,” Rubio added. “Without functional access to the internet, full participation in nearly every aspect of society is compromised, from economic success and educational achievement to positive health outcomes and civic engagement.” 

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