Looking for a Free Laptop? How Low-Income People Can Apply
Some 94% of American households have at least one computer, which they use to pay bills, search for information and get entertainment. In today’s world, many Americans are also using those computers to work from home while their kids do schoolwork at the kitchen table.
Low-income families without access to a working computer in the home face a real deficit. If you are looking to cross that digital divide, you might be wondering how you can find and apply for a free laptop for your low-income household.
There are free computers for low-income families available from many organizations across the US. These computers can provide the connections you need to apply for jobs, get to food resources, and give your children more equitable access to resources, especially education.
Read on to learn about free computers for low-income families and how to get them.
Adaptive.org is an organization that works to get computers and laptops specifically into low-income households where kids need them. The program does designate the computer is intended for use by children. Children age 5 up to college age can qualify for either a free PC or laptop.
Adaptive.org also works to help senior citizens and citizens with disabilities get access to computers. To get more information on the program and its services, call 1-800-763-3097.
Cfy.org is a national organization working with the government to provide computers, both PCs and laptops, to those who need them. Internet packages are also available, providing broadband and learning programs.
No matter how tech-savvy you might be, sometimes computer issues arise. Cfy.org also offers a free IT help desk for users to figure out any computer problems they are facing.
They also work with parents and educators on what they call their triangle of learning. This philosophy suggests that working together as a unit from teacher to student to parent helps create success in learning.
Computers With Causes
Computers With Causes is another national organization run by the Giving Center, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Charitable Organization. Their goal is to teach the value and power of giving and the huge impact it can have on another person’s life. Their application process is pretty simple, asking you to explain your needs, then they’ll work to get you the computer you need.
They do a simple needs assessment once they have your application and a reference and background check. Don’t be intimidated by this; the intention is to make sure the computer they send out gets to those who actually need it.
Everyone On is an organization that works to connect those in need with internet service providers and device providers. Their goal is to provide no-cost, low-cost or affordable computers to those in need and then to make sure those same people can get access to an affordable internet service provider.
They offer an interesting tool called the locator tool which helps those in need locate internet offers, device offers, and digital literacy training providers right in their own community. You can access this tool right on their website.
Freecycle takes an interesting approach to getting computers in the hands of those in need. Many households have computers they don’t need, aren’t using, or are ready to get rid of. In fact, most people don’t know what to do with a computer they are no longer using, the one collecting dust in the closet. They apply the idea of recycling to those items.
You can go and browse their boards to find a board in your area. You can either ask if there are people who have a computer they want to get rid of or look for ones already posted as available.
(Note: be careful giving or receiving a computer to or from anyone you don’t know. Make sure the computer is fully wiped of personal info!)
Komputers for Kids
Komputers for Kids is a southern California organization. They work to get used and refurbished computers into the hands of kids from low-income homes that need them.
The organization works with volunteers who seek used computer equipment. They work to rebuild and refurbish this equipment so it can be put to good use. They also make sure if they don’t use a part, they get it recycled.
Their application requires you to show your low-income status and need for the computer.
Microsoft Registered Refurbishers
Microsoft is a well-known name in the world of computers and they recognize the huge role they play in connectivity.
They work with both individuals and organizations to take computers and computer parts back in, then refurbish them and get them into the hands of those in need.
The goal of the program is to work with organizations and businesses to whom Microsoft offers licenses. They, in turn, take the equipment and get it refurbished and ready for distribution. Not all refurbishers are offering low-income help. PCs for People is one refurbished who does—more on them shortly.
National Cristina Foundation
The National Cristina Foundation is a national foundation working with organizations all across the US. They work to make sure the organizations they assist are non-profits whose goals are consistent with their own. They aim to get technology into the hands of those in need.
They work to gather large-scale donations, then redistribute to those organizations that can refurbish or use the donations and get them passed out to those in need at the local level.
The On It Foundation
The On It Foundation works to get computers in the hands of children from grades K through 12. On It is an acronym for Opportunities Necessary to Increase Learning. There are few things required to be eligible:
- Low-income status
- Child or children in grades K to 12
- Children must attend a public school in the US
- Participate in a free or reduced lunch program
To apply, you must write a letter to this address:
The On It Foundation
ATTN: Free Computer Application
18520 NW 67th Avenue Ste. 186
Miami FL 33015
The letter must include the following information:
- Student’s name
- School Name, address, and phone number
- Parent/guardian’s name, address, and phone number
The parent or guardian must sign the letter. They must also send a letter from the school. The school’s letter should be on school letterhead and explicitly state your child’s eligibility for free and reduced lunch.
PCs for People
PCs for People works to get computers for those who are below the 200% poverty level. You could also get a computer from them if you are already eligible through an income-based government assistance program. These programs might include:
- Head Start
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Medicaid (or Medical Assistance)
- National School Lunch Free/Reduced Program
- Pell Grant
- Section 8
- Social Security Disability (SSD)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- TANF or GA Financial Assistance (a dated letter is required)
- Unemployment Benefits
- Veteran benefits
Applying to PCs for People, you will need recent documents showing your eligibility with one or more of these government assistance programs. Based on your eligibility status, you can get either free or greatly reduced-priced computer equipment.
Smartriverside is a non-profit with a mission to reduce the digital divide. Their program has a scope beyond just getting computers into the hands of those in need. They also want to advance computer learning for those who might not otherwise have access to it.
This program also works with government eligibility to provide either free tablets or laptop computers to those in need. Eligibility may vary by state, since eligibility is connected to the government criteria and those also vary by state.
With Causes is another national organization working with partners across the country. They also work with computer companies to gain access to equipment they can redistribute.
In addition to free laptops, they offer assistance programs for families with needs like food assistance. They also have a wide variety of other programs, including bringing art and music into low-income schools. They work as patient advocates for those who need them, and they even work with several international animal rights organizations.
World Computer Exchange
World Computer Exchange works to get computers into the hands of those in need across the globe. They work with a variety of partners to help distribute computers and technology.
The organization works with:
They are a need-based program, so your application will need to show your low-income status. Once you qualify, their partners will help to get both a computer and internet access established.
Learn How to Apply for a Free Laptop for Low Income Households
Knowing how to apply for a free laptop for low-income families is the first step to getting one. While you might have to prove eligibility, often, the programs use the same eligibility as other government-based programs.
Having a computer is no longer just a luxury. Families need them to access programs, do their jobs, and get kids online for school.