Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
This article explores the different computer grants available for schools that cannot afford to fund their own. Since we live in the age of a pandemic, we all need access to a computer for education. You can also look at our article about free laptops for students if you’re a college student in need of a computer.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced teachers and students to adopt a new way of teaching and learning after it led to the closure of schools and other educational institutions worldwide.
Unfortunately, the transition from a traditional classroom setup to remote learning was made more challenging for some students by their lack of access to technology, raising the question of whether these students would fall behind as a result.
If you or your child have been disadvantaged in a similar way by the pandemic, then you’ve come to the right place.
Below, you will find a list of federal agencies, private organizations, and grant programs that can help you or your school get access to computers and other technology for educational purposes.
- 1 Computer grants for schools
- 2 Conclusion
Computer grants for schools
Secondhand Computers For Schools
The following federal agencies and private foundations distribute preowned computers and related equipment to schools and educational non-profit organizations.
These computers are usually received from technology donors who have a surplus of electronic devices or who are looking to recycle electronic equipment that they no longer use.
Computers For Learning (CFL)
CFL is a federal program that aims to give every child in America access to modern computer technology in the classroom.
It came about as a result of the implementation of Executive Order 12999, Educational Technology: Ensuring Opportunity for all Children in the Next Century. The Order sees to it that any excess federal computer equipment that can be used for educational purposes is donated to schools and educational non-profit organizations in need.
Only schools and non-profit organizations based in the U.S. or one of the following locations can apply for donations from CFL: the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
They must also be one of the following to qualify:
- A public, private, or parochial K-12 school
- A daycare center with a state-approved preschool curriculum
- An accredited non-profit organization operating primarily for educational purposes
Digitunity is an initiative of the National Cristina Foundation and is partnered with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
For over 30 years, it has facilitated the donation of secondhand computers and laptops from businesses and individuals to communities in need.
Its mission is to ensure that everyone has equal access to technology and to eliminate the digital divide.
To qualify as a recipient for technology donations from Digitunity, applicant organizations must be engaged in education or employment for individuals who are:
- At-risk or marginalized
- Economically disadvantaged
- Experiencing homelessness or housing instability
- Justice involved
- Older adults
Note: Digitunity does not donate directly to individuals, rather, it pairs technology donors with qualified organizations that then redistribute the technology to individuals.
Computer Recycling Center (CRC)
The CRC provides individuals and businesses with a safe way to discard their electronic devices that are no longer in working condition. It also promotes sustainable practices by encouraging people to recycle their unwanted electronics, so that they can be refurbished and reused.
The CRC’s recycling program benefits schools and non-profit organizations in this way, because it distributes the electronic equipment it receives from donors to communities in need.
Other Educational Technology Grants
These grants are awarded to schools and other educational institutions that do not have the means to equip their teachers and students with the technology that is required for digital learning.
Thus, the funds from these programs may not only be used for purchasing electronic devices, such as computers, laptops, and tablets, but for acquiring other services that support digital learning as well, like installing an internet connection where there was none.
CARES Act Grant Programs
In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act came into effect. The Act provided funding to the U.S. Department of Education to support schools and institutes of higher education during the pandemic.
Four grant programs were created through the CARES Act:
- Education Stabilization Fund Discretionary Grants, including Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants and Education Stabilization Fund-Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants
- Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
- Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
- Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund
CARES Act funding can be used by schools and other institutes of higher education in a variety of ways, including purchasing educational technology for students for remote learning.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) grants are available to K-12 schools, post-secondary education institutions, and educational non-profit organizations.
These grants are aimed at supporting STEM learning in schools and encouraging the nation’s youth to develop their skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths.
The funds from these grants can often be used to buy computers and other equipment that facilitate STEM learning in communities and schools.
Teachers of STEM subjects and students who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields can apply for these types of grants.
The U.S. Department of Education has designed 12 programs to help K-12 schools and other higher education institutions to maximize their broadband connectivity.
These programs provide students with access to various broadband services such as mobile hotspot devices and data plans, as well as access to electronic devices (for example, tablets and computers).
E-rate is a program for schools and libraries that do not have access to the internet. It provides them with a range of products and services that helps them to get access to information and resources from the internet.
Only products and services used for educational purposes are funded by this program and the list of eligible services changes every year.
To be considered as an applicant for the E-rate program, schools and libraries must meet the following eligibility requirements, among others:
- Schools are required to meet the statutory definition of what constitutes an “elementary” and “secondary” school, as set out in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
- Libraries are required to meet the statutory definition of a “library” or “library consortium”, as stipulated in the Library Services and Technology Act of 1996
The Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF) offers the annual Catapult Grant to teachers who want to implement digital learning in their classrooms, but who lack the technological infrastructure to do so.
Thus, this grant is used to equip classrooms with the basic technology that is needed to introduce students to a new, innovative way of teaching and learning, thereby encouraging them to become creative problem-solvers.
Only schools with qualifying zip codes that are located within a particular service area are eligible for this grant. Applicant schools must also demonstrate a desire to begin using innovative teaching and learning methods with the help of technology and have a need for the basic technological infrastructure to implement it.
The demand for computers, laptops, and tablets in schools has increased exponentially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many low- to moderate-income American households cannot afford to buy these electronic devices, which were generally regarded as luxuries up until recent years.
In response to the fact that these devices are becoming more and more essential for education and employment in our modern society, the U.S. government has developed a range of programs to assist those who do not have access to technology.
In addition, there are several federal agencies and private foundations that supply schools and various non-profit organizations with refurbished computers that they receive from technology donors in an effort to close the digital divide.
Please note that while you may not be able to get direct help from one of these computer recycling agencies or grant programs, you can recommend them to your school or non-profit organization.
This way, you’ll be helping other teachers, parents, and students in your community who may find themselves in the same boat.