The Tech Liberation Project (TLP) came about in a very natural way for Spy Hop. After the COVID-19 shut down, we realized that students would have difficulty participating in our classes if they did not have the right technology or gear. In response, we created a gear check-out system where they would be able to use our equipment for free and for the period of the classes.

However, that raised another question: What about the students and communities with this technology at home? In a rapidly evolving society that relies on technology more than ever, many people rely on community resources such as schools and libraries for computers and internet access. With everything closing and becoming remote, technology access became even more crucial. Thus the Tech Liberation Project was born. With the TLP, we can address the digital inequities that exist. Spy Hop’s new location became a donation and refurbishment center for the TLP.

The project was designed by Teri Mumm, Director of Community & Government Initiatives, in coordination with the Spy Hop Community Coalition. Spy Hop’s IT Manager, Hoang Ha and Equipment Specialist, Daniel Stergios, (that’s me!) are the brains and brawn of the operation. Together, we communicate with local entities and individuals to accept incoming donations, which are then refurbished by TLP Volunteers, Connor W. and Ben S., and Kaleb C.. When ready, the computers are distributed through Spy Hop’s IT Department.

A laptop or computer can make a huge difference for students who require them for schoolwork or individuals whose jobs are currently remote or require technology, as many do now. To date, Spy Hop has received over 366 donated devices and liberated 108 refurbished machines to students and families in our community. Over 450 lbs of E-waste have been safely recycled and kept out of landfills.

As one of the people who help take in the donations and distribute them, I can see how much our local community cares for each other. People are happy to donate. Then when we give out a computer to someone, they have this expression of “wait, is this happening? You’re letting me keep this computer?” Some ask if they get to keep it or if they have to pay something. They are always very grateful, and it’s rewarding to see their smiles.

The TLP addresses digital inequity, provides direct value to our local community, and is a sustainable movement that is eco-friendly.

If you have an old laptop, computer, or other digital devices you think someone could benefit from, consider donating it to Spy Hop’s Tech Liberation Project. Please visit our Tech Liberation Project page to fill out a donation form.

Your donated equipment will be wiped clean, refurbished, and given to students and families in need.

I’ve also attached Salt Lake County Mayor, Jenny Wilson’s Youtube video which features our Executive Director, Kassandra VerBrugghen explaining more about the TLP.