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TechServ expands global computer donations | The Triangle

TechServ expands global computer donations

Photo by Max Wix | The Triangle

Drexel University TechServ, a student organization dedicated to “helping bridge the digital divide in Philadelphia communities,” has recently expanded that mission to Liberia.

Last Friday, TechServ completed an international donation to a school in Nimba County, Liberia. The project was initiated by a former resident of Nimba County, Francess Thomas, who heard about previous donations and saw an opportunity to give back to her community by helping the school she owns there. 

Thomas explained that her school of 325 students currently has a basic computer education program which is severely limited by their lab of only 12 computers. The program is aimed at teaching students the basics of computer use and typing so they can utilize digital resources to further their learning and careers. 

This donation follows TechServ’s first international donation to Tanzania Enlightenment Development Innovations in August 2023. It was historic not just in scope but also in the level of collaboration with various Drexel groups, external organizations and local governing authorities. 

With the help of a group of Drexel education abroad students, TEDI established a computer lab at the Meringeni Secondary School in Moshi, Tanzania, which resulted in the Moshi District authority also contributing their own resources to the school and surrounding community. 

The students gained digital access to resources that would be difficult to access physically, which resulted in much higher exam results for that batch of students. Digital literacy and digital access are extremely important in the modern world, especially in developing countries where they can significantly narrow the gap between students and their more advantaged counterparts. 

TechServ’s Liberian contact understood this importance and wished to give her students the same opportunity. With the ten new desktops and 30 new laptops donated, she claimed her school’s computer education program could be massively expanded for the students. Since their experience assisting TEDI, TechServ has realized the massive potential impact of similar projects and started planning out and securing the equipment for Liberia immediately.

For the project with Tanzania and other donations within Philadelphia, TechServ donated a total of 100 refurbished computers and 84 pieces of other equipment in 2023, a “transformative year for … TechServ,” according to Head of Outgoing Donations, Ryan Iticovici.

So far, two months into 2024, TechServ has already donated 49 computers and 60 pieces of other equipment, with 109 more computers already planned to go out before June. 

International partnerships have proven extremely successful and impactful for TechServ, but its main focus is still on Philadelphia communities, with upcoming partners including the Community College of Philadelphia, Sharing Excess and the University of Pennsylvania. 

While expanding to work with bigger organizations, TechServ is also investing in community relationships, including considerations for big changes to their quarterly Community Genius Bars. 

In September, they plan to replicate the huge success of their first partnership with TEDI in an even bigger collaboration as part of a “vision of creating 100 computer labs across Tanzania,” said Ahaji Schreffler, senior director of Drexel Education Abroad.

TechServ has a long and rich history at Drexel University and in the tech sphere, having started as DUsers, the first ever Macintosh users’ group in 1984, then declaring its philanthropic mission in 2003, going on to establish itself as an important part of the West Philadelphia community and Drexel’s civic engagement efforts. TechServ has helped Philadelphia schools, nonprofits and individual community members gain access to computers for over 20 years.