Two local high school students are refurbishing donated laptops and computers to donate to students who need a computer to participate in online learning and access other resources. 

Ghedion Beyen, who will be a high school senior next year, told InsideNoVa he saw some families left out of online learning when schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Beyen and Khoi Nguyen, both rising seniors at The Governor’s School at Innovation Park, started the Free and Accessible Technology Initiative in December 2019. 

In March, Beyen said they started seeing families facing challenges with one computer or no computer.

“We saw how people are being impacted by COVID and add insult to injury they couldn’t keep up with coursework,” Beyen said. “We think education should be fair and accessible. We basically found the middle ground where our background met our future goals.” 

Beyen and Nguyen are in the process of establishing a nonprofit, Beyen said. 

The abrupt closure of schools impacted families differently, depending if students had access to some type of technology, from a smartphone and tablet to a laptop and computer. In addition, internet access was another barrier for families.

The school year is over, but that hasn’t stopped the number of requests the initiative is receiving, Beyen said. 

The initiative provides a care package, which includes a refurbished laptop and computer, a USB mouse, Google Mini Home, gloves and a mask, Beyen said. The initiative either delivers the package through the mail or in person. 

Since March 4, the initiative has received 54 requests for a device. Of those requests, the nonprofit has provided care packages to 48 students while they are currently working to provide packages for six students, Beyen said.

The initiative is looking for students who need a digital device. Beyen said families can apply online at https://www.fati.io/contact.

The initiative is accepting computers or laptops to be refurbished for students, Beyen said. 

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