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It’s Time

Good morning everyone, it’s time. 🙂

After months of work, I can finally share this with the world. This is going to take a minute to read, it’s worth it. There is no short version because what you’re about to read took years to discover, understand, implement and build in a form ready to share with the public. We spent years building this. I spent hours writing it out to explain and share it. And you can take a whole 10 minutes to read it. This touches YOUR life, you, personally. This impacts every person, every family, every business in all of Southwest Michigan. Read it, ask questions, and share it once you understand what we’re doing here.

This is powerful, and you can be a part of it. This is how you can make our world suck ever so slightly less, and I’m not asking you for any money. In fact, we want your trash.

As of today at noon, The Geek Group National Science Institute is announcing the grand opening of our massively expanded Computers For Families program and our all-new Computer Recycling Center. This is a remarkable accomplishment unlike anything ever before seen in Michigan. Please give me a few moments and I’ll tell you why. You’re going to like this.

Several years ago we looked at the demographics around our local neighborhood and learned of the terrifying dropout rates of the local high schools. Some of them reached 50%, meaning that half of the kids weren’t graduating with even a basic high school diploma. Now we’re fine with half the kids not going to college. We need fewer people in college and more in skilled trades; someone has to actually do the work build this country. But everyone, every single person in our city without exception, should hold a basic high school diploma. It’s like the building code for a new brain; It’s a floor, not a ceiling. A high school diploma should not be a goal to dream of, it’s a foundation, the bare minimum requirement to be a functional human in a civilized world.

The attrition rates aren’t a secret, lots of people knew that number. They published it online. But it’s one of those things where people read it, sigh, and go on with their day. What are you gonna do? It’s just another example of “Well, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, such is life.”

Engineers don’t think like that. We have to fix things, it’s a compulsion.

I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m still figuring out what the right questions are. But I know for certain that doing something, anything, is better than sitting by and failing these kids for yet another year. They’re not stupid, they’re disengaged. Thanks to moronic concepts like “No Child Left Behind”, the gutting of our schools by being spiteful with property taxes (I’ll bet you didn’t know about that one), and “zero tolerance” for anything, we’ve done a pretty good job of screwing them up as hard as we can.

Don’t just glance by that, click that link, read that. http://stateofopportunity.michiganradio.org/post/day-michigan-killed-public-schools-and-then-created-system-we-have-today

If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.

So, because we’re geeks, not politicians, the team at The Geek Group took a radical approach to fixing this in our own way. We started with access.

One of the largest hurdles for the local kids is getting reliable access to a computer in the home. You cannot be a successful high school student in today’s world without computer and internet access. It’s not a luxury anymore, it’s a fundamental need. Today the computer is the #2 pencil of the previous generation.

These kids, these families, cannot begin to afford to go to the local Big Box store and drop hundreds of dollars on a new computer. You can’t go buy a $500 computer when you’re struggling to make rent. They don’t get that option, it’s not a choice for them. To most of the people that will read this, you cannot imagine not having a computer and reliable internet connection in your home (or even your pocket). It’s a basic thing you take for granted, along with electricity, heat, water, and a car. YOU have access.

These kids don’t live in the world you know. These families struggle to have even that basic list of utilities every month. I understand this, I struggle with the same list too (and like them, often don’t have all of them every month). We personally experience choices like “well it’s summer, we don’t really need the gas on this month do we?” because there simply isn’t enough money to have ALL of the basics.

It’s about Access. 1 in 10 families in Grand Rapids do not have a computer at home.

This isn’t an isolated problem, there are thousands of families living like this every day right here in our city. They are the working class poor.

For years now, The Geek Group has provided computers to thousands of families for the lowest possible price we can manage. Desktops sell for $25 a piece, with whole systems selling at $50. Laptops sell as low as $100 a piece, and the specs and quality of our systems keep getting better every year. Our Computers For Families program has been successful beyond our wildest dreams.

Thanks to the incredible support of local companies and families we have even been able to give away hundreds of computers at events with schools, libraries, and in our facility. Our record is over 300 free computers handed out in a single day. You can see it here.

https://youtu.be/dqQauOEwqZU

We’ve been doing this for years and have solidly proven ourselves thousands of times with this program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns5bwvPniG4

The first round of this happened back in 2012, we weren’t even online and open for business yet and we gave a hundred computers away to local high school students.

Every family who reads this is eligible. There is no paperwork, there are no exceptions, there are no limits on where you live or what your grades are or anything. This is for everyone out there that needs the help and has a sincere and passionate desire to do better. We want to help. We want you to have a decent computer and we want you to have it at a price that actually works for you. For $25 you can have a good, solid computer that will do anything a High School student needs.

We also do this for remote communities outside of the Grand Rapids area. If you want to host an event and have us bring a truckload of computers to your small town up north or something, contact us, we’re here to help. We’ve done this for church groups and youth groups and refugees and all kinds of other people. We’re happy to partner with your organization. This is the paramount of people coming together to serve the public good of the community. It’s not just inner-city kids that are broke. This is a problem facing kids in Ravenna, Marne, Nunica, Conklin, Grant, Newaygo, Allegan and a thousand other communities. These kids matter. These families need to know about this. Let’s see what we can do to make a difference in their lives.

And that, is only the half of it.

Recycling computers is a messy, nasty, dangerous, and dirty business, and that’s before you even get into actually dealing with the physical work of it. The BUSINESS side is disgusting.

There are a lot of companies out there offering computer recycling services. They have all the happy little stickers on their website to give you the warm fuzzy feeling about how “green” they are. They spend piles of money on advertising and marketing and would like you to believe they use only the finest magic pixiedust to erase your hard drives and turn your old computers into daffodil seeds.

There are even companies that are doing this, right here in Grand Rapids that are computer recycling facilities, operating as a non-profit corporations, that charge people substantial amounts of money to accept their computer and then turn around and charge irrational amounts of money to sell that same computer to someone else. I have seen “non-profits” that are selling laptops for $300 a piece! These are the exact same laptops that we’re selling for $100 a piece.

Non-profits should exist to serve the public good, that’s why we exist. We should not be basing our business models with pricing at “whatever the market will bear”. We should be setting our prices as low as we can and still keep the lights on most of the time. I’m all for people running a business and making a couple bucks. But if you’re in business to make money, run a regular company. If you run a nonprofit, do it to make a difference. We exist to serve the public good, that’s the point.

So to combat the problem of these technological parasites, The Geek Group is now launching our own large-scale computer recycling program. We will NOT be charging you to take your old computers, even if you drop them off by the semi-truck. We will take as many as you like and we don’t care how big or old or ugly they are. If you have a dozen semi trailers filled with 1980’s mainframes, we’ll accept your donation with a smile, no charge. Because you shouldn’t be charging people to donate things, that’s madness, and it’s unethical.

We will gladly accept donations of accessories, keyboards, monitors, speakers and other things, also at no charge. The only exception to any of that is we cannot accept donations of old CRT (the big glass tube style) monitors. But thankfully those are pretty rare these days. They have a few pounds of lead in them, and they are a nightmare for us to dispose of. They are the used-car-tire of the computer world. The good news is they have been out of popular use for a decade now and most people don’t have them anymore.

We want YOUR old computers. We will accept them AT NO CHARGE. We properly destroy all of the data in the exact same ways that everyone else does and can offer your company certifications of data destruction. You (or your security staff) can actually stand here and watch your data get destroyed if you like. The difference is that instead of all your old computers getting parted out and sold to the highest bidder as scrap, we focus on overhauling them and getting them into the hands of people that can use them for a whole new life-cycle. Sure, there are parts we have to scrap. Some things simply don’t have any life left in them. But the focus here is helping families, not padding our bottom line. Our goal is to send the bare minimum off to the scrap yard. Scrap metal doesn’t help kids graduate.

We’re interested in old household computers coming in one at a time, and entire old enterprise fleets of hundreds of computers being pulled out of service from business, schools, hospitals, and government facilities. We will gladly unload your truck right here at the lab, no charge.

Because it’s all about providing access to working technology to people that need it. This has been the basic mission of The Geek Group for over 24 years.

And we’re still not done, there’s more.

Along with all of this work, we have upgraded our lab here and TRIPLED our private High School in size. We operate the Open Doors program for Self-Directed Teens and it is now ready to offer services to a much larger group of new students. If you have a high-school-aged kid that may be better served in a different style of classroom environment, we’re interested in talking with you. Traditional classrooms aren’t for everyone, and can be hell on some kids. The Geek Group’s Open Doors program provides a powerful alternative to traditional public schools. It’s not a magic solution that works for everyone, but it may be just the thing for helping your kid. Contact us about potentially enrolling your kid for the 2018/2019 school year. This is High School like you’ve never seen before. Imagine what your life would be like if you had access to an entire National Science Institute as your High School experience. This is High School where “Geek” isn’t a 4-letter word, it’s a path to a 6-figure salary.

It’s about Access.

So there, you made it through the whole thing. We’ve covered three different major initiatives that The Geek Group has going on right now to help do what we can do make the world ever so slightly better. Now it’s your turn. Share this with someone who may benefit from a new computer. Share this with your boss who can donate all the old computers here as you guys get new ones. He’ll be happy to not have to pay to dispose of them AND get a tax receipt for donating them. Share this with that woman in accounting who has the kid that is going through hell in public school, maybe they can do better here.

The average person knows about 600 people. How many of the people in your world can we help with just these three major programs. My guess is nearly all of them, in some way.

Let’s see what we can do together to make our community, our kids, and our world better today.

Thank you, for your attention, your time, and your help.

“Captain” Chris Boden

The Geek Group National Science Institute

www.thegeekgroup.org

To get a computer or to donate one, come to our lab at;

902 Leonard St NW

Grand Rapids, MI

49504

Open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm.