To type term papers and essays, Starks headed to the Tracy Branch Library, where he logged onto one of the computers available to the public.
In his junior year, though, the teenager will be able to work on his school assignments at home. He is one of about 100 Tracy students without computers at home who will receive free computers from Uneed2 at the local nonprofit’s first Back to School Computer Giveaway on July 27.
“It helps a lot, because most teachers now say you have this essay and it is required to type the essay — so if you don’t have a computer, you have to find another resource,” Starks said. “It makes life a lot easier.
The Uneed2 nonprofit, founded in 2005, trains students to build and repair donated computers.
The 100 machines being given to students in sixth through 12th grades were refurbished by participants in the WorkNet Summer Youth Program, and each is equipped with a licensed copy of Microsoft Office.
Uneed2 executive director Lynda Hawkins, 41, said organizers began collecting the computers in January.
“Technology is the way of life today — you almost have to have a computer in the home,” Hawkins said. “Our vision remains the same, to try and put a computer in every household that doesn’t have one.”
Hawkins visited schools in Tracy Unified School District and Tracy Learning Center to introduce the giveaway at the end of May. Students had until July 5 to complete an application that included a 500-word essay on why they need a computer.
“It does make a difference academically,” Hawkins said. “The kids who don’t have a computer struggle. It gives them the same opportunity to succeed as a student with a computer.”
Starks is enrolled in an analytical reading and writing course this year and expects to use his computer to complete required essays on the books he will read for the class.
“I’ll do a lot of researching, so that will be one of the big uses,” Starks said.
He is also looking forward to staying connected with friends on social networking websites.
Hawkins said the free computers are intended to keep kids busy and out of trouble, in addition to helping with their schoolwork. Recipients can sign up to learn about computer repair, too, if they choose.
“The whole purpose of Uneed2, besides bridging the digital divide, is instilling a trade in students wherever they go or consume their time,” she said.
Uneed2 will distribute computers and have motivational speakers at its back-to-school event from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 27 at the Larch Clover Community Center, 11157 W. Larch Road. Lunch will be served, and school supplies and backpacks will be handed out by members of Mountain’s Hope Community Worship Center.
For information: Uneed2, 510-952-1473 or www.uneed2.org
- Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org