As the season of giving approaches, it is important to remind ourselves of the opportunities to give back to those without access to basic life necessities. GHJ Foundation is doing its part by contributing to organizations serving under-resourced communities.
GHJ Foundation’s rotating Grants Committee convenes twice a year for its grant selection process. As part of this process, committee members determine areas of the most pressing need and select various nonprofit organizations to award grant funds to.
In a recent cycle, the Grants Committee chose to prioritize nonprofit organizations that promote diversity and inclusion efforts, educational resources and animal welfare. The Grants Committee felt that that the organizations selected had impactful missions that would continue to benefit the community during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
A NONPROFIT’S UNIQUE MISSION
One grantee selected to receive funding from GHJ Foundation was Human-I-T, an organization that the committee found to have a unique mission. Human-I-T aims to bridge the digital divide by diverting e-waste from landfills to put in the hands of those in need to create a more connected community. Essentially, the organization is tackling two separate issues and addressing them with one solution: taking technology that would have ended up in a landfill, repurposing it and distributing it to people with lack of access to computers.
While this is a lofty and admirable goal in itself, the organization has expanded to provide a variety of different programs, including digital literacy training to adult-learners, subsidized internet enrollment for individuals in need and support services for college students to ensure they have essential technology for their education.
While Human-I-T has been operating since 2012, COVID-19 pushed its mission into the spotlight. Padric Gleason Gonzales, Human-I-T Executive Assistant to the CEO, highlighted that while digital inclusion and e-waste have been a growing problem for many years, the COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the need for technology, as many jobs and schools were forced to move to a virtual environment. Those who were unable to connect to this new vast digital world were losing opportunities in the form of missed education or missed employment offers.
“When you do not have access to a device, life is infinitely more difficult,” Gleason Gonzales explained.
During the pandemic was when Human-I-T began to see some significant changes within the organization. Donations poured in, and local governments began creating programs with funding specifically earmarked for digital inclusion. Human-I-T responded to and propelled this momentum further. Along with the generous financial grants and donations received, Gleason Gonzales mentioned that e-waste donations unable to be repurposed for community use can be sold, and these revenues are able to be re-invested into the program.
Using all of these revenue streams, Human-I-T has doubled in size over the past year, has begun to expand its offerings to other cities nationwide and has plans to open a retail store to sell low-cost devices and offer classes on tech support. They are also seeing firsthand the results of their operations. Gleason Gonzales mentioned that during an event in Detroit, MI (the first expansion city of the organization), twin high school students spoke about how Human-I-T provided them with their first laptops. These high school students went on to become the valedictorian and salutatorian of their graduating class.
“We must shift the goal from not only closing the digital divide, but continuously responding to it,” Gleason Gonzales said.
Through firm and individual contributions, GHJ Foundation is able to support organizations such as Human-I-T. GHJ also encourages employees to get involved in organizations they feel passionate. Thus, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, join with GHJ and consider volunteering or making a donation at a local nonprofit.
If you are wondering how you can help, Human-I-T offers volunteer opportunities and accepts donated technology and any kind of financial support.
“There is still work to be done to make sure our mission remains part of the ongoing conversation,” Gleason Gonzales reiterated.
Please visit their website at https://www.human-i-t.org to learn more.