Since PCs for People began, Executive Director Casey Sorensen has been building automated systems and tools to simplify the computer refurbishing process. These tools, such as the ability to insert a pre-loaded hard drive into a computer, enable volunteers and interns to participate in the refurbishing process, regardless of their prior tech experience, and helps them gain job and computer skills.
While attending a conference in Denver in 2014, Casey demonstrated this system to a contingent of fellow conference-goers and piqued their interest. PCs for People started to get labeled as a "market leader" in the nonprofit refurbishing sector across the U.S. One person who was particularly impressed was a board member from a Colorado-based nonprofit called Blue Star Recyclers.
Founded in Colorado Springs in 2009, Blue Star Recyclers is an electronic recycling company that provides jobs to people with disabilities who may otherwise face barriers to employment. The employees of Blue Star break down electronics and recycle the pieces, and this breakdown generates revenue to pay their wages. It has been such a successful endeavor that Blue Star recently expanded and opened a new office in Denver in early 2015. Just one thing was missing, and it was a gap that PCs for People could fill: every piece of electronic equipment coming through Blue Star was being broken down and recycled, even fairly new and very usable items. Therefore,it wasn't long after that conference that CEO Bill Morris gave Casey a call and a collaboration was discussed.
"It's a perfect partnership for us to come together and impact the community in Denver," Casey said. "PCs for People has the technical experience, processes, and refurbishing systems in place, and Blue Star has the staff and warehouse in place." This partnership will use our system to refurbish the computers that can be used, while utilizing staff that is already working for Blue Star! In May, Casey and two technicians, Chris Grillo and Will Ranieri, traveled to Denver to help convert the recycling warehouse to an area where they can refurbish as well. "It was a lot of fun to see how quickly we could set up the office," Will said. "The amount of work they do, and the amount of stuff they have... it was quite remarkable considering they had only been there since December!"
Just like our St. Paul office, the Denver location will offer refurbished computers and low-cost Internet through Sprint. The agreement was signed in May, and the partnership will officially begin in August, just in time for back-to-school distribution events. We would like to thank Blue Star Recyclers for this wonderful opportunity, and we are looking forward to assisting the Denver community!