Possibility through technology: How Green4Good and Tropicana supported Toronto youth during the pandemic
devices donated since 2020
Tropicana Community Services was founded in 1980 as a non-profit community organization in Scarborough, Ontario by Jamaican-born Robert Brown and cofounder Derrick McLennon. Their goal was to serve disadvantaged youth and their families, particularly those from a Caribbean, Black, and African heritage. Each year Tropicana’s staff, with the assistance of its dedicated volunteers, help thousands of people in need.
At the height of the pandemic, Tropicana Community Services, a Scarborough-based non-profit organization serving disadvantaged youth and their families, saw a dramatic need for end-user technology among their members. The pandemic turned the spotlight on the fact that not all Canadians are fortunate enough to have access to technology at home, and many were missing out on opportunities as reliance on personal devices deepened following the sudden shift to a work-from-home and remote learning model. The lack of access to technology was fast becoming a barrier for disadvantaged communities and hindering their ability to participate in education.
In 2020, Tropicana was introduced to Compugen’s Green4Good program through the help of industry friends and from that connection, Tech4Transformation was born. The program is a collaboration between Tropicana and select organizations in the IT space, one of which is Compugen.
The Tech4Transformation team works with various corporate sponsors who donate technology which is then refurbished by the Green4Good team. These repurposed devices, processed through the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program, are relicensed with Microsoft applications.
Through Tech4Transformation, Tropicana and Compugen have jointly provided over 300 devices, such as computers and tablets to Black youth in Toronto and have raised over $30,000 to fund the community organization’s various programs. These include supportive and culturally aware initiatives such as counseling, settlement services, childcare, personal development, and employment services.
But the outcomes do not merely focus on addressing the present circumstances of its target community. In fact, they plant the seed that empowers Black representation in the workplace for future generations.
“Not only were we able to provide the technology to individuals who needed it, but we found that the benefit extended to the families of many of those we reached. It turns out that our program had a compounding effect that allowed even more people in need to leverage a single device, in their homes, for their professional and educational endeavours.
“The feedback from our community has been outstanding across the board. The devices have enabled students to continue participating in school and land part-time employment as well – and the same goes for their families. This is but one of the outcomes that emphasize the importance of our work with Compugen’sGreen4Good initiative and the ripple effect that it has throughout the community. It goes beyond the technology – it’s the possibilities that come with it,” Tropicana’s Executive Director Raymund Guiste commented.
Microsoft’s productivity tools played a critical role in the success of this program. Recipients of the devices licensed with Windows 10 and Office Home were able to collaborate with their peers in the virtual classroom as technology leveled the playing field for everyone. The software suite allowed them to communicate in real-time, work collectively on projects through cloud-based apps, and ultimately learn the value of teamwork in achieving a common goal. The experience equipped students with the necessary skills to succeed in today’s highly connected and deeply collaborative modern workplace.
“I just want to give special thanks to the Tropicana team for supplying these laptops to the community. This was such a good idea, especially with work from home and remote learning trends along with the financial stresses we’re witnessing around the world. I really do hope more people in the community can get a hold of this type of support. This support not only helps with my work but also my siblings’ schoolwork,” explained Elijah D., one of the program’s beneficiaries.
“Tropicana Community Services is thrilled to collaborate with Green4Good. Many of us take for granted the ability to have a laptop and supporting technology at our fingertips. However, for many of the clients we serve, this is not their reality. With the hardware donations from Green4Good through this partnership, we are able to alleviate this challenge. We are able to provide assistance and peace of mind to hundreds of youths and their families by giving them working equipment with which they can do their school assignments and even support their job search. We are looking forward to continuing this groundbreaking partnership with Green4Good for years to come,” Migdalia Jones, Tropicana’s director of community engagement, added.
Founded in 2009, Green4Good is an award-winning initiative that works with environmentally driven organizations towards their corporate citizenship goals by recycling or repurposing end-of-first-life IT hardware and giving old devices a second lease on life. Businesses then receive credits that can be directed towards charities, social programs, or the purchase of new hardware. The refurbished devices are remarketed to those who will benefit from the technology the most, such as schools, small businesses, and communities in need.
The program is part of Compugen’s commitment to promoting a circular economy and is designed to achieve the three pillars of sustainability: generate revenue, create positive environmental impact through reduced carbon emissions, and support community development. Since its inception, Green4Good has processed close to 2 million IT assets and raised $3.5 million for over 225 different charities worldwide.