Christopher Cao and Griffith Heller spend time refurbishing a computer. After a computer goes to a family, Reboot for Youth does follow-ups and repairs for free.
Photo by Marissa Beale/The Connection
Technology plays a prominent role in classrooms throughout Fairfax County, but the reality is that many students are still unable to afford personal computers for basic things like homework. But a team of students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) has made it their goal to eradicate cost as a barrier to technology for low-income families.
Reboot for Youth is a 501(c)(3) non-profit headquartered in the Fairfax City home of Griffith Heller, sophomore at TJHSST and Reboot for Youth’s COO.
“We really started in September when I was contacted by Christopher Cao,” said Heller of the company’s beginnings.
Cao, also a sophomore at TJHSST and Fairfax City resident, says the inspiration behind the organization started when he volunteered with GIVE, a tutoring program targeting students from low-income families. He noticed that a student he worked with had no computer to use for completing his homework. Instead, the student traveled back and forth to a public library to access the technology he needed, and then sometimes even that was not enough.
The mission of Reboot for Youth is to increase educational opportunities for underprivileged children in the community through increased access to technology, and since their inception, the company has rebooted 77 computers, helping around 112 students.
“Everything is donated from other organizations and individuals,” said Heller, and since Reboot for Youth is a nonprofit organization, all donations are tax deductible.
“We’re trying to get donations from more families,” said Cao. “We plan to expand to tablets, but our focus is computers at the moment.” One way they have raised funds is through a photo campaign they call “Snap for Students.”
“It’s a program asking families with donated computers to take a picture. A company has agreed to donate a dollar for every photo taken. So far we have over $100 worth in pictures,” said Cao. The cost to refurbish the computers varies depending on the condition of the machine, but the team is able to refurbish the computers for as low as $5 to $10.
While there are other services providing computers to families in need, what makes Reboot for Youth unique is the one-on-one relationship the organization is able to establish with all their families.
“Our dream right now is to just expand and refurbish more, but we would love for all families around the world to have access to technology,” said Cao.
To keep up with Reboot for Youth, find out how you can donate a used computer or obtain a computer if you are in need, visit www.rebootforyouth.org.