Youth Service America and the Festival of Children Foundation recently named Fairfax City resident, Christopher Cao, a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. Cao, a 16-year-old CEO and junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, was one of the program’s 51 nationally-recognized students that are making difference in their communities. They are recognizing the work he has done with Reboot for Youth, a nonprofit he founded to get computers in the hands of youth in need.
“It’s really a great blessing,” said Cao of this recognition. “I plan to expand to more global projects.”
Reboot for Youth refurbishes old computers and then distributes them to children that need them for school. These computers have been distributed to youth in Fairfax County, and abroad in Costa Rica, Vietnam, Cambodia and Kenya. With the $1,000 grant from the Festival of Children Foundation, Cao has added Liberia to the list.
“I think a lot of that money is going to go to our project and development in Liberia. We are planning on sending 70 laptops,” said the young CEO.
“Our main focus in Liberia is to receive funding that will help with shipping costs and maintaining Keepod devices. That’s one of the major hurdles at the moment and we’re hoping to find some more generous partners.”
Keepod, a USB storage device with the capacity to hold a computer’s entire operating system, would let students store their entire computer on the device, rather than on the computer’s hard drive.
“We combined hardware with the Keepod software….[It’s] really simple for each student to learn and be more familiar with,” said Cao.
Having access to a computer plays an important role in a child’s education, and Cao’s focus is on filling educational gaps created by income disparities. According to the website, Reboot for Youth has donated 139 computers since 2014, impacting 336 students daily. Cao’s mission is to make sure each student has an equal access to education.
To donate or request a computer, visit their website rebootforyouth.org.