2020 ANNUAL REPORT
Annual Letter from the Executive Director
2020 was a hard year– there was a global pandemic, a belated cultural reckoning with racial injustice, and the reorganization of school life. We came out of the year the only way we know how– together.
As COVID-19 drastically changed the school landscape, we shifted our programs to respond to student needs. We scaled up our Tech Connect (formerly Lifelong Learners) program to place thousands of computers in the hands of learners who needed access to technology at home. We transitioned all our CORE: IT certification training and summer camps to virtual classes. It is a testament to both our teachers and students’ hard work for continuing their learning through it all.
2020 highlighted the racial inequities in Minnesota. Approximately 80% of the people we serve identify as BIPOC, and they felt the effects of George Floyd’s murder in a deeply personal way. We became more focused than ever on the fight for racial equity and justice. Our work to create digital equity, by providing free IT course training and computers to learners of all ages, is one piece of the puzzle of creating racial equity in Minnesota.
It is thanks to our partners and our team that we were able to place 5,752 computers for distance learning last year. From financial donations to equipment donations, those partnerships allowed us to help students when they needed it most.
Since 1997 we’ve been on a mission to create digital equity in Minnesota, which requires serving all communities, especially those most marginalized. With each year that passes, we’re getting closer to realizing our mission.
Minnesota Computers for Schools creates digital equity for students in need by partnering with schools and educational organizations to provide technology access, engaging STEM programming, and IT workforce development in underserved communities.
2020 by the Numbers
Computers placed for distance learning
Pounds of equipment recycled
of the people we serve identify as BIPOC
Our COVID-19 Response
Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 greatly changed how our organization operated in 2020, from expanding our Tech Connect program to pivoting our classes to an online format to keep both students and teachers safe.
Providing Computers to Students for Distance Learning
Our Tech Connect program was never more important than in 2020, when many students were stuck at home distance learning without reliable access to technology. Students were falling behind in class, forced to juggle one computer for many people, and trying to do schoolwork online using a cellphone. We opened up our program so students of all ages were eligible to receive a computer, at no cost. As a result, we were able to place 5,752 computers for distance learning. This allowed students to complete their schoolwork, apply for unemployment, stay connected to friends and family, and search for work.
Virtual CORE: IT Training
We pivoted our free CORE: IT classes and summer camps to all virtual programming. We’re proud of our teachers for modifying their classes accordingly and of our students for learning in such a different way. We taught 15 classes last year and held two summer camps. In total, 190 students were taught virtually. Teaching IT skills for free and engaging kids at a young age are critical to creating digital equity in Minnesota.
Tech Drive Tuesdays
In the summer, we partnered with Affinity Plus and KARE 11 to host Tech Drive Tuesdays, where we set up equipment donation drives in communities all across Minnesota. We hosted 16 drives over the course of 6 weeks. 1,554 people donated more than 60,000 pounds of equipment, which resulted in hundreds of kids receiving computers to participate in distance learning.
Meet Sarah Anne, a student who received a refurbished laptop that was donated at Tech Drive Tuesday event. When we received Sarah Anne’s application for a computer, we knew we had to get her access to a computer immediately.
Hannah is a student and a mother whose world was rocked by COVID-19. Suddenly, both her and her son were at home without reliable access to technology, or the financial option to purchase a computer.
She applied for our Tech Connect program and received a laptop. As a result, both her and her son were able to participate in distance learning and maintain social connection during the pandemic.
“I am very grateful to have been given this computer – it dramatically increased my ability to connect and complete school assignments. This computer came at the perfect time, especially considering how COVID has impacted our communities and accessibility to computers and the internet. Both my son and I were able to access and complete online education near the end of Spring semester, by receiving this laptop.”
“The gift of a laptop is more than just a means for me to continue my education and find employment. It has given me a voice and a platform to speak for forgotten and overlooked communities. It is a vehicle for connection and change in these turbulent times, that ensures that MN cares for ALL of its communities, not just those with privilege.”
COVID-19 hit those at the margins the hardest, and without access to technology, many were unable to apply for unemployment, move to online learning, and stay connected. Ivery was one of those students. As a single parent, first generation college student, and person of color, he faced many systemic challenges as the pandemic changed how our society functioned. With the help of his professor, he learned about our Tech Connect program and was able to receive a computer.
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Albert F. Pierce
American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation
Ann Calvert Trust
Best Buy Foundation
Bill and Karen Richard
Bridget and John Sperl/McCormick
Cares Expanded Community Services
Dean and Marla Haley
Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation
Greater Houston Golf Charity
Huber Giving Fund
Jeff Bangsberg and Anita Boucher
Jo Ann Raymond
Joan E. and Allen A. Carrier
Karen C Bretzke
Kathleen and Michael Pepek
Kris and Rob Edmonds
Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Lansboro School District
Lions Club of NE MPLS Charitable Gaming
Maple Grove Lutheran Foundation
Marvin and Rosemary Mack
Mary Jo Matkaiti
Northrop Grumman Foundation
Otto Bremer Foundation
Osseo Lions Club
Poehler/Stremel Charitable Trust
Ray Smith Insurance Co.
RBC Foundation – USA
Richard M Schulze Family Foundation
Saint Paul Foundation
Steve and Sue Oswald
Sue and John Krebsbach
United Way of Central MN
Vicky Gilmer, in honor of Gary Gilmer
Ready to Volunteer at MCFS?
Want to Donate Equipment?
Ready to Become a Donor?
Vision for 2021
2020 didn’t end like any of us had planned. But with light at the end of the tunnel in regard to COVID-19, we’re looking forward to meeting with people in person again and working towards a better tomorrow.
Just as the pandemic has changed how people will work, the pandemic will have lasting effects on how people learn. Virtual learning is here to stay and the work we do is critical to prepare students to participate on equal footing today in school and as job seekers in the future. Our work to provide accessible technology continues.
Minnesota Computers for Schools has changed and grown since it was established in 1997, particularly over the past three years. We’re working on a rebrand that better reflects our organization as it exists today, and where we’re hoping to go. We’ll still be the same organization working to create digital equity in Minnesota– just with an updated look and new website. Stay tuned for more to come in the fall!