Durham County Government Technology Finds a Second Life


Durham County replaces computers, laptops, and tablets every four years rotating between departments from year to year. Could you imagine these devices (almost 1,800) going to waste? They don’t! Through programs developed with community partners this technology goes back to the residents of Durham.

In 2007, finding new homes for surplus computers was a priority for the Durham Board of County Commissioners. Headed by Aaron Stone, Computers 4 Kids, was born.  Computers 4 Kids is a collaborative initiative between Durham County, United Way of the Greater Triangle, the Volunteer Center of Durham, and the Durham Public School System.

These programs go to the heart of why we work in local government. They allows us to give back to this great community.
-Aaron Stone, Durham County, Manager of Client Support Services

United Way refurbished donated computers from Durham County which were provided to students of Durham Public Schools. Students between the ages of 8 and 12 were referred to the program by the Department of Social Services, school social workers, teachers, tutors or the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Garnering attention across North Carolina, Computers 4 Kids was recognized by United way in 2009 with a “Closing the Achievement Gap” award. In 2010, The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners awarded Durham County “Outstanding County Program”. Computers 4 Kids also beat out many other state programs and won the “2011 NCLGISA Demo Slam” event and in 2012 won a quarterly NCLGISA “Government Innovation Grant Award”. Computers 4 Kids rapidly outgrew the available resources Durham County had available. The program ended and new donation initiatives emerged.

Assistant County Manager Drew Cummings proposed a partnership with Triangle Ecycling. Triangle Ecycling’s model provides a free educational opportunity for youth. High school students receive hands on experience in Triangle Ecycling’s shop refurbishing computers while learning environmental and humanitarian issues related to e-waste and sustainable business models. These refurbished computers are then donated or sold locally at below market prices in support of the program.

For Durham County, Triangle Ecycling manages logistics, security, and disposition of the County’s donated computers. Specific Durham nonprofits that support Durham Public School students and families are sought out to receive the County’s surplus of computers. Any computers deemed too outdated or unfit for refurbishment have all their data destroyed and recycled pursuant to R2 recycling standards.

Durham County Social Services Director, Michael Becketts recommended Durham County’s newest technology partner, Kramden Institute, Inc. Kramden Institute offers programs that encompass free computers for students in grades 3-12 and classes for anyone ages 8 and up in basic computer literacy to advanced programming.

Kramden Institute also engages with Tech Community Partners and Tech Equipment Partners. The Tech Community Partners program is specifically for non-student populations. Clients receiving services from a list of non-profit agencies are eligible to participate and obtain a reduced cost desktop or laptop with a preinstalled OS and other software as a Community Partner.

 “The equipment donated by Durham County has allowed us to bridge the digital divide both in Durham and across the state of North Carolina. In Durham County in 2015 alone Kramden awarded 560 desktops to students without a home computer and provided 454 desktops and laptops to Durham County based non-profit organizations, churches, and charter schools.We look forward to a continuing partnership and the great things we can do together including expanding the pilot project with NCCU.”
     – Jason Ricker, Director of Technical Operations, Kramden Institute, Inc.

On February 26th, 2016 Kramden Institute provided 100 laptops (91 from Durham County) to North Carolina Central University students as part of an initiative to support successful degree completion.

Durham County Information Services & Technology is proud to have the opportunity to give back where possible. These programs would not have reached this level of success if not for our partners. It is Durham County’s hope these programs will have a positive impact for Durham County’s citizens and an influence for years to come.

Original article can be found here