As remote schooling and work have become the norm since the beginning of the pandemic, the importance of access to technology has never been more clear. 

Free Geek’s mission is to help close this digital divide, and the last seven months have been the busiest we’ve ever seen. Free Geek’s demand for free or low-cost devices computers spiked 4,000%. Estimates in May show that more than 75,000 computers are needed by students across Oregon to support distance learning (not to mention additional essential needs like telehealth). 

Free Geek’s experience is indicative of a national trend: According to a report by the Associated Press, American students need about 5 million more laptops. School districts that ordered computers in the months prior to the semester weren’t getting their shipments on time, if at all, and millions of students started the 2020-21 school year unequipped for remote learning. A recent New York Times article noted that students in rural areas and communities of color have been the most impacted by this technology shortage.