Computer Recycling Programs

We live in a society where computers are, in one way or another, involved in just about every aspect of our lives. Computers in private residences are becoming more and more common. But like all other electronic devices, computers are costly. Persons with disabilities, however, can still affordably obtain a computer for their own personal use. There are numerous organizations that will donate or help fund computers for persons with disabilities.

Recycling Used Computers

With computer technology advancing at an exceptionally high speed, businesses are forced to keep up and purchase the newest, most state-of-the-art equipment for their offices. Older machines, usually ones that were state-of-the-art a year or two earlier, become “obsolete” in favor of the faster, more recent machines. These machines are often donated to computer recycling organizations, who make them available at no cost or at a low rate to persons with disabilities.

Although the computers are used, you can usually get a powerful computer for little or no money. If the type of computer you desire is not available, you may still be able to obtain it later. Recycled computers are constantly being moved in and out of these companies through donation and sales.

The Disability Resources, Affiliates, and Groups network (DRAGnet) is one organization that recycles computers to benefit persons with disabilities. To qualify to receive a computer through DRAGnet, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be a person with a disability or a primary caretaker for a person with a disability;
  • Be on public assistance;
  • Be under-employed and under-educated;
  • Be in a low-income or minority educational “at risk” situation;
  • Be a retired and low income senior citizen;
  • Be an educator who works with the aforementioned groups.

DRAGnet matches computers with people’s specific needs, working on a case-by-case basis. While DRAGnet does provide free computers to select individuals, most of their computers are sold at low and affordable prices. An older machine may be as inexpensive as $20, whereas a computer that is only a year or two old may cost around $400. To contact DRAGnet:

1110 Van Buren Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413-1537
Phone: (612) 378-9796
Fax: (612) 378-9794

The Technology Resource Center (TRC), a part of the Dayton Microcomputer Association and in conjunction with the National Cristina Foundation, runs another computer recycling program. Used computers are offered to persons with disabilities, social agencies working with persons with disabilities, and schools. To contact TRC:

Technology Resource Center
301 Valley Street
Dayton, OH 45404-1840
Phone: (513) 222-5222
Fax: (513) 222-2101

The purpose of the National Cristina Foundation is to help persons with disabilities benefit from computers. The Foundation matches computer donors with non-profit organizations and schools that serve persons with disabilities. To contact the National Cristina Foundation, write or call:

National Cristina Foundation
591 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830
Phone: (800) 274-7846
Fax: (203) 622-6270

Individual State Computer Funding Programs

Many states have programs that will assist persons with disabilities obtain a computer. Some are listed below:

Arizona: AnotheR BytE. This organization recycles old computers and donates them to persons with disabilities, senior citizens, persons who are homebound, and individuals who would benefit from having a personal computer. For further information, call (800) 775-0712 to access the organization’s voice mail system, or write to AnotheR BytE, 30 West Navajo Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

California: BMUG Computer Placement Project. This program, run by the Berkeley Mac Users Group, collects used Macintosh computers from the local community and donates them to the economically disadvantaged and to individuals who could benefit from the use of a computer. To find out more, call (510) 549-2648 ext. 210 or write to Berkeley Mac Users Group, 1442A Walnut Street #62, Berkeley, CA 94709.

California: Computer Recycling Project. This project collects and distributes used computers to needy individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations. For more information, call (415) 695-7703 or write to Computer Recycling Project, 479 Bartlett Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.

California: New Life Computer Foundation. The NLCF collects, repairs, and redistributes old computers to qualified individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations. All computers are donated at no charge to the recipient. Call (818) 348-9264, or write to New Life Computer Foundation, 24026 Gilmore Street, West Hills, CA 91307.

Florida: Computers for the Disabled. This organization collects, repairs, and distributes used computers and instruction to individuals with disabilities. To find out more, call (35) 274-0099, fax (305) 271-8904, or write to Computers for the Disabled, Charles Babbage Memorial Foundation, Box 16-1443, Miami FL 33116-1443.

New Jersey: Technology Assistive Resource Program. This program, also known as TARP, puts individuals with used computers and assistive devices in touch with people who need these items. They publish a quarterly Used Assistive Device Catalog, which includes pages of used computers and computer accessories for little or no money. To receive this catalog, call TARP at (800) 554-2626, fax (908) 719-9705, or write to NJ Assistive Devices Recycling Center, Matheny School and Hospital, Peapack, NJ 07977.

New York: The TRAID-IN Equipment Exchange Service. This program recycles computers and other devices. TRAID-IN works like “want ads”: donors or sellers can advertise free of charge the device they wish to sell or donate. Persons looking for these devices can then access a list of all available devices and acquire what they want at an affordable price. Call (800) 522-4369 or write to The TRAID Project, NYS Office of Advocate for Persons with Disabilities, One Empire State Plaza, Suite 1001, Albany, NY 12223-1150 for more information.

Vermont: Assistive Technology Recycling Project/Recycle North. This is a nonprofit organization which recycles computers, as well as furniture, and other appliances, for redistribution to persons with disabilities. For more information, call (802) 658-4143, fax (802) 658-0543, or write to Assistive Technology Recycling Project/Recycle North, 266 Pine Street, burlington, VT 05402.Washington: Computer Bank Charity. This group donates computers and computer equipment to persons with disabilities and non-profit organizations. They primarily assist individuals in the Seattle area, but will consider persons and organizations in other areas of Washington. Call (206) 365-4657 or write to Computer Bank Charity, 15062B 15th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98155 for more information.

Other Places that Might Help

Sometimes it is difficult to find a charitable organization that will donate computers or help fund computers for individuals with disabilities. It can be frustrating to need a computer but not know exactly what kind. And, once the right computer is found, completing the paperwork that goes along with receiving a machine can be confusing. However, an advocacy program can assist you in the above steps and make the process of obtaining a computer easier. An advocacy program may work with you in accomplishing your goals, they may be able to refer you to someone who can help you, and many times they will know where to look in obtaining computers or other devices. Advocacy programs, such as Centers for Independent Living and Assistive Technology Resource Centers throughout the country, can aid you in your endeavors. To contact the Independent Living Center nearest you, check your local phone book. You may also find such programs listed in the yellow pages under the heading “Social & Human Services.”

For more information, contact:
RERC-Aging Information Coordinator
Center for Assistive Technology
University at Buffalo
515 Kimball Tower
Buffalo, NY 14214-3079