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Meet Cheri Pierre

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cheri Pierre.

Computers 2 Kids, San Diego (C2K) was established in late 2004 by Larry Hershfield (Chairman of the Board of Hawaiian Holdings, and CEO of Ranch Capital) and his wife Tammy. Their goal was to establish a philanthropic endeavor that would help to reduce the digital divide, the disparity between people who have access to technology and those who don’t.

Through exposure to other kids in their community, the Hershfield’s began to realize that many children did not have equal access to computer technology. As they witnessed many of their friends replacing their computers with the “latest and greatest” they often wondered, “What happened to the old systems?” They knew that the old computers still worked and that the systems are made of materials that are not environmentally friendly and they wondered how they were being recycled?

C2K was born… they knew that in a world that revolves around technology, the digital divide that existed within their community would continue to place many children and their families at a disadvantage, during their school years and beyond. It was this thought that made the Hershfield’s start C2K.

Cheri Pierre joined C2K as their CEO in 2007. Specializing in helping under-resourced organizations implement sustainable solutions usually reserved for large, multinational companies, she has grown the organization from distributing 329 systems a year to more than 26,000 distributed to low-income families in 2018. Today, C2K goes far beyond merely collecting, recycling and refurbishing computers from individuals but now works with many large corporations and effectively takes their old systems and repurposes them by giving them to families in need.

C2K responds to this digital disparity and the real-world demand for computer literacy through its Technology Assistance Program that recycles and refurbishes used computers and delivers them to families in need. C2K also provides each recipient with education, training and technical support necessary to achieve success.

Our Mission: We believe all children and their families in San Diego, regardless of their economic status, need to be computer literate and have equal access to technology. Our Technology Assistance Program recycles and refurbishes used computers and delivers them to families in need. C2K also provides education, training and technical support to help students achieve success.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road is never truly smooth for a nonprofit but it is the challenges that make the mission that more rewarding. C2K’s mission is to ensure that everyone has equal access to affordable technology and internet. To meet that mission, we need computers and the funds to refurbish them.

It is difficult to imagine that anyone would be living without a computer in their home yet 23% of San Diego County families struggle with access to affordable computers or internet. There is a constant search for sources of computers, especially laptops and tablets. And although C2K has strong fiscal management, applying more than 96% of all funds received directly to our programs, it is always a challenge seeking funds to cover the refurbishing costs.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Computers 2 Kids, San Diego – what should we know?
Computers 2 Kids, San Diego believes we can make a difference in the lives of individuals who have expressed an interest in bettering themselves through technology education, but who cannot afford the technology tools. We hope to place computers in the homes of all deserving families who want to enrich their education through technology.

Our systems come with a one-year free warranty. After the first year, C2K provides lifetime technical support to our recipient families for only $20 a service call. If we cannot fix the system, we replace the system with a newer model, ensuring the family stays connected for years to come.

More than just a computer, C2K takes great care in providing valuable educational software and technical support with each system we distribute.

C2K’s software package goes beyond the basics used every day and provides the very best educational content (games and activities designed for K-12) that can help families improve their home learning environment. C2K software package includes: Microsoft Software, My Home Learning Software, Adobe Software and additional software.

ReUse is the New Recycling – The fast pace of computer innovation has provided today’s technology users with more powerful systems at lower prices. This leaves many of us with a dilemma. Every time we upgrade one of our computers to gain more speed, more storage or more bells and whistles, we’re left with an older computer that no longer meets our needs.

C2K’s comprehensive program of recycling, refurbish, and respond provides an ideal solution for this issue. C2K is committed to providing our donors with a free, green alternative for their technology, saving them the financial responsibility of storing or disposing of their eWaste. Additionally, donors get the added value of providing needed technology and its resources that has been traditionally denied to low-income families through C2K’s Technology Assistance Program. C2K receives your technology donation and refurbishes the computer systems (with a strong emphasis on data security) to place in the homes of low-income families in the most fiscally sound way possible.

In 2014, C2K received the San Diego County Tax Payers Association Golden Watchdog Award for our sound fiscal management. As one of the most efficient refurbishers in the United States, C2K applies more than 96% of all funds received directly to out Technology Assistance Program.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
C2K wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of our community partners, dedicated staff, outstanding volunteers and the corporations and individuals that donate their technology.

Since the beginning, C2K has been collaborating with San Diego’s nonprofits and the San Diego County Office of Education to identify the families most in need. By working together, we are able to provide these families with access to affordable computers and internet without duplicating efforts.

A key partnership in the delivery of systems and internet is our partnership with Cox Communication. Beginning in 2012, C2K and Cox began working together to host Connect2Compete Computer Distribution events directly within the community at local schools and community centers. Each distribution event offers the families a convenient way to pick up their computers, sign up for discounted internet, and schedule an installation appointment all within their neighborhoods.

We receive computers from hundreds of corporations including: Amazon, Petco Park, Qualcomm, San Diego Unified School District, and Sharp Hospital.

Most importantly are the hundreds of dedicated volunteers that help with the refurbishing, technical support and distributions. C2K is blessed to have volunteers that come in daily for years. Supplementing the outstanding staff of only 10 employees, it is the combined knowledge and skills that these volunteers bring to the table that have enabled us to grow and thrive.

Each one of these individuals and corporate partners become a part of the C2K family and it has been my honor to see our family grow over the years.

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