Technology partnership aims to provide used computers to low-income Detroiters

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — City officials joined Wednesday with technology partners to launch a campaign seeking gently used computers to help "close the digital divide" for at least 1,000 low-income Detroit families. 

The effort, dubbed “Empowering Digital Detroit," calls on city businesses and individuals to donate used, unwanted, or obsolete electronics. The city and its partners are aiming to amass 500,000 pounds of used technology and have it refurbished by a team of IT professionals. The team intends to redistribute at least 1,000 laptops to low-income city families by October. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan during news conference at Detroit Public Safety Headquarters on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

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“Opportunity in Detroit is increasing by the day, whether employment, education, affordable housing or a range of critical assistance programs,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Wednesday. "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."

Equipment pickup will be arranged by city-based nonprofit human-I-T. The company will wipe the devices, refurbish and update them and then donate them to local community organizations and individuals who lack access to technology, officials said Wednesday.

Technology that can’t be reused will be recycled and all donations are tax deductible.

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of students in Detroit households lacked access to a personal computer or a home internet connection. 

Duggan unveiled the program Wednesday alongside human-I-T CEO Gabe Middleton at Focus Hope on Oakman Boulevard with the city's Director of Digital Inclusion Joshua Edmonds and representatives from Connect 313, a citywide coalition seeking to make Detroit a national model for digital inclusion.

Since launching in late 2020, human-I-T, with electronic goods from corporate donors, has donated more than 15,000 computers and 7,000 internet hotspots to Detroiters.

“We’re extremely excited to launch our first campaign collaboration with businesses in and around Detroit to create equitable access to digital opportunities," Middleton said.

How to get connected

For information, visit the city's website or call (313) 241-7618.

Human-I-T is also hiring Detroiters to help with refurbishing and distribute the technology. Apply at under “Join The Team.”

Twitter: @SarahRahal_