Mayor, human-IT launch new effort to help close Detroit’s Digital Divide, reduce e-waste, create jobs

Mayor, human-IT launch new effort to help close Detroit’s Digital Divide, reduce e-waste, create jobs

  • Empowering Digital Detroit effort will accept gently used computers, refurbish them and distribute to at least 1,000 low-income families
  • Unusable computers will be properly discarded to reduce environmental impact
  • Detroiters to be hired to refurbish computers

The City of Detroit, human-IT and other partners announced today a four-month long campaign that will help close the digital divide for at least 1,000 low-income families this year while creating jobs for Detroiters and reducing the amount of electronic waste headed to area landfills.

The “Empowering Digital Detroit” campaign calls on Detroit businesses and individuals to donate used, unwanted, or obsolete technology and electronics.  Donations will be assessed for functionality before they’re securely refurbished by a team of local IT professionals, and redistributed back into the community. Technology that can’t be reused will be sustainably recycled, which keeps toxic metals and chemicals away from landfills.

Today’s event was attended by business leaders, city officials, and nonprofit partners, working together to shrink Detroit’s digital divide, one piece of technology at a time. Speakers included Mayor Mike Duggan, human-I-T CEO Gabe Middleton, Detroit’s Director of Digital Inclusion Joshua Edmonds and representatives from Connect 313, a citywide coalition with the goal to make Detroit a national model for digital inclusion.  Several families also were on hand to receive free computers refurbished by human-I-T.

“Opportunity in Detroit is increasing by the day, whether employment, education, affordable housing or a range of critical assistance programs,” said Mayor Duggan.  “However, in many cases, accessing those opportunities require a computer and internet access and if you can’t access an opportunity, it may as well not exist.  I can’t thank our partners enough for their commitment to bridging the digital divide to open the doors of opportunity to every Detroit family.”

How to get connected

The campaign’s goal is to collect 500,000 pounds of used technology and distribute 1,000 refurbished and updated laptops to low-income Detroit residents by October 2021. For more information, visit www.detroitmi.gov/digitaldonations.  Additionally, Detroiters seeking guidance and assistance to meet their family’s technology needs can also call 313-241-7618, where they also can learn about low-cost or no-cost internet access.  

Electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world, with 59.1 million tons of equipment discarded in 2019. That’s equivalent to more than 8,400 Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks. At the same time, roughly 1 in 4 school-age children lack access to a personal computer or home internet connection. In Detroit, up to 40% of student households didn’t have access to a personal computer or a home internet connection even before the coronavirus pandemic. By transforming e-waste into opportunities, human-I-T reduces environmental impacts while also creating social benefit.

Detroiter hiring

Since launching in late 2020, human-I-T assembled a team of 26 members – 16 of which are Detroit residents – to promote digital inclusion by refurbishing and repurposing used electronics. In their first 9 months, the nonprofit group processed nearly 100,000 pounds of e-waste from 20 corporate donors, and donated more than 15,000 computers and 7,000 internet hotspots to Detroit households.

Human-I-T still has several positions to fill and encourages Detroiters to apply at www.human-i-t.org under “Join The Team.”

“We make it easy for our partners to do good,” said human-I-T CEO Gabe Middleton. “We’re extremely excited to launch our first campaign collaboration with businesses in and around Detroit to create equitable access to digital opportunities. By simply donating old electronics instead of sending them to a landfill, companies can help to protect the environment, create jobs right here in Detroit, and create opportunities for students, seniors, veterans, and families.”

Detroit businesses can take advantage of the partnership with human-I-T to recycle and donate technology that they no longer need. With a simple phone call, donors can access human-I-T’s industry-leading IT asset disposition services. human-I-T will arrange an equipment pickup, securely wipe devices of sensitive data, refurbish and update them, and donate them to local community organizations and individuals who lack access to technology. Damaged or broken items are also accepted for end-of-life product disposal. All donations are tax deductible.

About human-I-T:

human-I-T is a nonprofit social enterprise that creates sustainable opportunities for people, organizations, and the planet. Based in the Oakman Boulevard neighborhood in the Upper Westside, human-I-T connects Detroit residents to technology, devices, and affordable internet plans through its innovative programs and partnerships. For more information, visit https://www.human-i-t.org/

 

About Connect313

Connect 313 is a collaborative social good initiative comprised of residents, corporations and community organizations all committed to empowering Detroiters with quality computers, reliable internet, and personalized technology support. Most recently, Connect 313 Launched, EBB 313, a local internet access campaign that provides a monthly $50 discount on internet bills for qualified Detroiters. 

Founding Connect 313 members include, the City of Detroit, Rocket Community Fund, Microsoft, and the United Way for Southeast Michigan. To join the Connect 313 movement check out www.connect313.org

Please be advised that Director of Media Relations John Roach will be out of the office today.  Please refer to this directory for media inquiries for the City of Detroit Departments:

www.detroitmi.gov/mediarequests

For media inquiries for departments not listed or for the Mayor's office, please contact Deputy Media Relations Director Tracey Pearson at [email protected] or 248-864-6874