August 28, 2013
An award-winning partnership between business and education will hit a milestone Thursday evening when Computers for Families awards its 10,000th free, refurbished computer.
The program, operated jointly by the nonprofit Santa Barbara Partners in Education and the Santa Barbara County Education Office, accepts donations of used PC equipment, refurbishes it, and awards it without charge to low-income students.
The program began in 1997, serving just one school. Now in its 17th year, it serves more than 600 low-income students and families annually at 29 South County elementary schools. Eligible children are in kindergarten through fifth grade in the Carpinteria Unified School District and in fourth through sixth grades in the Goleta Union, Hope, and Santa Barbara Unified school districts. It has also become a model for similar programs nationwide.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to learn and fulfill his or her potential. As technology becomes more central to our lives, this program provides a vital educational tool to children who might otherwise never have a computer,” said Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools.
Taking a comprehensive approach to bridging the “digital divide” that can keep low-income students from succeeding in school, Computers for Families also provides discounted Internet service through a partnership with Cox Communications, training and continuing technical support for teachers and families, and a computer repair program at Los Robles High School.
Los Robles students prepare the donated computers for re-use. In that way, Computers for Families has become an educational and vocational training program at Los Robles, a residential court school that is operated by the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Santa Barbara County Probation Department at Los Prietos Boys Camp.
Thursday’s distribution will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Franklin Elementary School, 1111 East Mason St. in Santa Barbara. Dozens of students and their families from Franklin and Adelante Charter schools have signed up to attend.
Speakers scheduled to make remarks, beginning at 6:15 p.m., include Ed Heron, a board member of the Santa Barbara Unified School District and of Partners in Education, who chairs the Partners’ Computers for Families committee. Others include Superintendent David Cash of the Santa Barbara Unified School District, Principal Casie Killgore of Franklin Elementary, Principal Juanita Hernandez of Adelante Charter School, and Deputy Superintendent Susan Salcido of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
At the conclusion of those remarks, Computers for Families staff members Kris Mainland White and Walter LaRiba will conduct a training session for the children receiving computers and their families.
In addition to Computers for Families, Partners in Education has two other main program areas, all administered by the SBCEO, that are designed to support schools, local businesses and the broader community through partnership, collaboration, and volunteerism.
Formed in 1977, Partners in Education has evolved into a vibrant 501(c)3 nonprofit organization under the guidance of the business and educational leaders on its board of directors. Its mission is to connect businesses and individuals with schools, and the organizations that serve them, to help improve public education in ways that support a vibrant economy, a healthy community, and the well-being of local children and their families.
The Partners board and hundreds of community volunteers conducted a campaign to raise a $4 million endowment fund to support Computers for Families. Major financial contributors to the program and its endowment include Cox Communications, Raytheon, Venoco Inc., Yardi Systems, ABC-CLIO, QAD Inc., and the Hutton-Parker Foundation, Ann Jackson Family Foundation, Orfalea Foundation, Mericos Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Towbes Foundation, Volentine Family Foundation, and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation. For more information about Computers for Families, go to www.sbceo.org/~sbceocff or contact Program Coordinator Kris Mainland White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 964-4710, ext. 5400.