Free Geek: Turning the Needy into Nerds

There’s a nonprofit in S.E. Portland that’s turning the needy into nerds.

Meet Free Geek, an organization dedicated to recycling and repurposing old electronics while running technology education classes on the side. Their goal is twofold, but simple: Help mend the digital divide and keep the planet healthy by giving new life to old tech.

Free Geek was established in 2000 and since then has juggled an array of repairing, reselling and community tutoring programs while serving as an electronic recycling hub.

They accept most electronic items, and use the parts to fuel projects such as their build-your-own-computer initiative. Salvageable products are either flipped and sold at their Thrift Store or donated. Damaged and useless pieces are sorted through a multi-part recycling program with the help of community partners.

As part of their community outreach, Free Geek runs a Hardware Grants Program through which they connect qualifying nonprofits and groups with refurbish electronics. So far they’ve donated over 7,500 PCs, 1,900 laptops and many other items.

Free Geek also offers an array of free, weekly classes on topic ranging from data backup to basic Linux use. And through their Build Program anyone can learn how to refurbish and build computers. If someone assembles up to five, they’re allowed to keep the sixth computer.

This week  we pulled from our archives four interviews PRP.fm held with Free Geek as par of our award-winning Community Voices series. The podcast, featuring interview sessions with members of the organization, are below.

Nastacia Voisin

I’m a recent University of Portland grad and an aspiring journalist. I hail originally from Ontario, Canada. My passions and pursuits vary – currently I’m into indie films, podcasts, live storytelling and tango.

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