On Saturday, May 3, 2014, computers for home use will be awarded to students in the Natomas School District as part of a Digital Divide program run by the Natomas Schools Foundation. The computers are the product of a collaboration at the California Department of Technology with State agencies and departments, as well as non-profits and community-based organizations. Using State of California surplus computers, dedicated technologists have worked together to donate hours and skills in order to put updated computers in the hands of schoolchildren who didn’t have home computers. In addition to State of California volunteers, youth in the greater Sacramento region contributed their time and technical abilities to revamp the computers with updated operating systems and modern software.

In 2013, Deputy Director Veronica Ortiz-Torres began Youth2Youth, a pilot project that examined how the State surplus computer system worked. She looked at whether we could reduce eWaste, and put revitalized computers into the hands of schoolchildren lacking home devices and connectivity. By working together with the Department of Technology, Department of General Services, CalRecycle, and CalPIA, computers that would otherwise go into the eWaste stream were identified and directed to a youth training program for incarcerated young men who are learning technical skills and earning certifications. CalPIA then delivered repaired computers to the California Department of Technology warehouse, and CalTech volunteers donated time to put the units together.

California Department of Technology’s Javier Carrillo was instrumental in partnering with both CalPIA and CSU, Sacramento, to bring computers to the Natomas students. Carrillo connected with college students enrolled at CSU, Sacramento’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program with the support of Jaime White, Director, MESA Engineering Program (MEP) to install and upgrade the computer software.

Useable desktops and laptops will be distributed to students who have applied through the Natomas Schools’ Foundation Digital Divide program. The first installment of computers will be made at the Natomas Schools Duck Pluck Festival on Saturday, May 3rd between 11 am and 4 pm. The Duck Pluck is a community-wide event to support Natomas Schools. Over 70 booths, including food vendors, carnival-like games, arts, sports and education activities, will be featured at the event, which is held at the sports field at Inderkum High School, 2500 New Market Dr, Sacramento, CA 95835. The culminating event of the day will be the Duck Pluck itself, which gives participants a chance to win $10,000.

For more information on the Duck Pluck and Natomas Schools Foundation, please visit: http://www.natomasschoolsfoundation.org/ For information on how you can help volunteer to help Natomas Schools bridge the digital divide, please contact Javier Carrillo at (916) 717-6293. For information on programs involving the Digital Divide, please contact Deputy Director Veronica Ortiz-Torres at Veronica.Ortiz-Torres@state.ca.gov.