Haas Center and Stanford Bookstore collaboration seeks gently used laptops

shutterstock.com/Aaron Amat
shutterstock.com/Aaron Amat

A laptop donation program inspired by a Stanford alum makes it possible for high school seniors at Mission High School in San Francisco to have a laptop when they head off to college.

The recipients are participants in the Athletic Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP), an independent, nonprofit, year-round program, which aims to get more low-income students into college and help them succeed once they are there. ASAP currently serves 350 Mission High students involved in athletics, either as players or supporters.

In a partnership with the Stanford Bookstore and the Haas Center for Public Service, Stanford community members can now drop off laptops that are no more than five years old at the Bookstore. As an added incentive, the Bookstore is offering donors a discount on the donor’s next purchase.

Since it was founded in 2004, ASAP has helped more than 800 students attend summer enrichment programs on college campuses. Most ASAP students are from low-income backgrounds, and 60 percent are English-language learners. Ninety-seven percent are the first in their families to attend college.

The donation program was launched in 2011, when ASAP Executive Director LIZ BUTLER STEYER, ’86, ’91, learned that teacher laptops at her daughter’s private school were given away after three years. Steyer approached the school about contributing the computers to ASAP, and the program received its first eight laptops.

Two years later, VIVIAN WONG, ’12, working as a Stanford Public Interest Network fellow at ASAP, was asked to find a stable source of computers. Wong and Steyer thought of their alma mater and approached JEFF DEUTSCH, Stanford Bookstore’s director of stores, about institutionalizing the donation program to help low-income college students and, at same time, reduce e-waste.

Mission High School seniors who wish to receive a donated laptop apply by writing an essay on how it will contribute to their college success. Once they have a donated laptop, it is theirs to keep. Wong described one student who emphasized in her essay how having a laptop would make it easier for her to stay in touch with her support network as she adjusts to her new college life thousands of miles away in Pennsylvania.

ERIC GUTHERTZ, Mission High’s principal, emphasizes that for his students, college “acceptance and enrollment are only half the battle.” While he praises ASAP for its phenomenal work in creating a college-bound culture at Mission High School, he adds that the laptop donation program means that students are equipped with “the technology needed to access the full college academic experience.”

Any laptop donated to the program must be privately owned, five years old or younger, in working condition and Internet-capable. Donating a laptop is completely free and tax-deductible. Since all data must be wiped from the device before it is donated, donors can download the free DBAN software to wipe the laptop memory.

For more information about donating a laptop, contact SHELLEY HUGHES at s.hughes@bookstore.stanford.org or (650) 329-1217, ext. 375.

—LAURA MONKMAN, Haas Center for Public Service