Technology makes everything more accessible and achievable in our current society with smartphone apps with a plethora of uses, transportation and infrastructure and resources for jobs and education, just to name a bet few. However, the financial inequality gap is often propagated by the lack of accessibility to these technological resources. This is especially true in education. The usage of computers in the classroom has increased tremendously since 1995 (NCES). The integration of technology in education is unavoidable, but we still remember that low-income schools and low-income and minority students are less likely to have access to a computer (ETS research). There are many ways for you to donate old tech and have it distributed to those in need, but there is one simple resource we are over looking. It is us, the average college student and university resources. Our website donatech.org allows students, teachers, and schools to request tech from local universities who receive tech from their own labs and outside donors, and provides a foundation for students in scholastic institutions to get involved. Donatech is set up as a non-profit organization, which with proper marketing, will be able to provide funding to student chapters when they join. Donatech also provides a resource which can match tech donors to colleges and colleges to students in need.
What it does
There are five different forms: donor forms, tech request forms-students, teachers, and schools, and an internal form with the database of participating colleges. The wix website provides an interface where you can apply to donate or receive tech as well as information about how a university or college student can start a chapter at their school. We used Zoho Creator to make these forms and record responses and an internal application that matches donors and colleges as well as colleges and recipients by locations.
How we built it
1) We built a Zoho Creator application that contains several forms to manage the flow of information from within the organization and allows our volunteers, donors and recipients to quickly and seamlessly manage their inputs. 2) Using Python 2.7.14, xlrd and smtplib libraries we built an application that retrieves the values from our Zoho Creators database, finds matches in location and sends automatic emails if such match is found. 3) We used wix to create a template for the website and embedded the Zoho Creator forms into the site.
Challenges we ran into
We were unable to embed the Zoho Creator forms onto the wix site, because it required an upgraded subscription. Converting proprietary data types to strings in python was also a problem.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to embed the Zoho forms after talking to a Zoho representative.
How the project evolved
As we worked on this project our idea evolved from working at a national scale to working at a local scale, because we discovered that local distribution would be more effective and have more impact than other similar tech refurbishing and charitable giving companies. We had to think about what was feasible for a college student and what incentives there would be to do this type of work- collecting, refurbishing, and distributing tech. We realized that we are relying on the individual's social conscious while also providing them with opportunities to further their experience working with hardware and software while refurbishing this tech. Donors, especially large companies, would often otherwise sell old tech for parts or harm the environment by tossing them so offering them a tax write off for a good cause would also fuel our mission.
What's next for Donatech
1.) Establishing local chapters- We want to get started at one or two universities, we have had expressed interest at a few universities. 2.) Securing Donors- Once we gain enough traction we would like to attract donors and increase funding, in order to support more student chapters. 3.) Partnering with tech refurbishing companies- Although most of our tech donations would come from college students, eventually we would like to partner with other companies with large scale collection centers to increase our supply of recycled tech at our distribution center, which in this case are the universities.