Under the Hood with Minnesota Computers for Schools



MCFSLast month we introduced Under the Hood —  to better understand how technology oriented nonprofits in Minnesota function.

This recurring series is made possible by research partner Altrulytics and underwriter Atomic Data.

Over the coming weeks we will publish individual responses, and in the end, compile an aggregated assessment of the landscape with further analysis.

Organization name: Minnesota Computers for Schools; Executive Director: Tamara Gillard

When was it formed and for what purpose?

1997, to work with businesses in Minnesota to take their replaced technology to recycle or refurbish. Refurbished equipment was placed in schools across Minnesota while teaching men at Stillwater Correctional Facility job skills in recycling, trouble shooting and repair.


Who or what do you serve?

Today, we serve all schools in Minnesota (public, private, charter) along with educational nonprofits and students with special needs.

How many do you serve and how?

We are expecting to break a company record and place close to 6,000 systems in schools and nonprofits in Minnesota along with students who are dealing with disabilities or special needs. This will impact 216,000 lives with the technology provided. We have a regional sales manager who meets with schools to provide the right technology solution for what they are trying to accomplish.

What are the main programs/resources that you offer?

Work force development skills training given to men at Stillwater Correctional Facility and Students at both Guadalupe Alternative Program and Washington Technology Magnet School. We provide Laptops, Computers and LCD’s. Most computers and laptops include a 3 year warranty and tech support.

How do you source funding and can you provide us with three years most recent tax returns?

Our funding is received through our technology sales, grant writing, recycling and donor contributions.

2010 990  |  2011 990  |  2012 990  |  2013 990

Do you have earned income and if so, how?

Approximately 70% of our income raised is through our computer sales, 20% is through our grant writing that pays for both product and skills training at a couple of sites and 10% is earned from our recycling efforts. The money raised from our recyclables gets turned back into production to help fund component purchases such as hard drives, memory, power supplies, etc.

What key metrics do you use and how do you measure the impact of your org?

Since 1997 we have:

Computers placed – 73,629 with over one million students impacted

Computer waste recycled – 4.4 million pounds

Inmates employed and trained – over 1,195

In the 2013/14 school year:

23 students trained at GAP(this past year this included 13 internship opportunities and one student employed at a local recycler) included IC3 certification, hands on skills training in recycling and refurbishing and soft skills training with Accenture curriculum.

88 students trained at Washington Technology Magnet School in extended day program – this included some hands-on training along with IC3 curriculum. 4 students completed certification.

Do donors fund the organization as a whole, specific programs and/or something else?

We receive some operational funding along with funding specific to STEM initiatives, workforce development and our special kids program.

Given the options of nonprofits to support in the technology industry, what makes yours unique?

We are a nonprofit that works very closely with our customers to make sure the equipment we provide is the right fit for what they are trying to accomplish. Additionally, through our foundation partners, some of these projects are either partially or fully funded which means little or no cost for some of our projects.

We are a nonprofit that benefits businesses in Minnesota as a responsible recycler of their replaced technology (at no cost most often), we provide low cost technology solutions to schools and nonprofits across the state, and we can do that by training men at Stillwater Correctional Facility in both hard and soft skills.

We provide the Department of Corrections workforce development – skills training to men at Stillwater Correctional Facility, which allows us to provide computer technology to schools and nonprofits in Minnesota with a low cost technology solution (and sometime at no cost).

Who is on the executive board of your organization?

  • Eric Vercauteren, Chair – Galliard Capital Management
  • Deb Johnson, Vice Chair – DJ Consulting, LLC
  • Erin Wait, Treasurer – Travelers
  • Gregg Dorazio, Secretary – General Mills
  • Steve Bartholet – Hollstadt & Associates
  • Doug Swenson – Willkerson Associates
  • Karen Black – Insight Edge
  • Deb Sevelius – Pine River Capital Management
  • Erick Maki – Bremer Bank
  • Marla Haley – Ecolab
  • Paige Vinall – Wells Fargo

Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • We are R2:2008 certified, and will be completing our R2:2013 certification audit in December.(Responsible Recycling)
  • We are ISO 14001 certified and completing this certification audit again in December (Environmental management system)
  • We are adding OHSAS 18001 certification this year as well. (Occupational health and safety)
  • We are an approved Washington County licensed electronics recycler