In the latest Around Town column, news about a student-run nonprofit that's donated dozens of computers for local youth and several nonprofits benefiting from grants through the Palo Alto Community Fund.
COMPUTERS FOR GOOD ... Daniel Schendel has long had a passion for fixing computers, but wanted to find a way to put his hobby to good use. When the pandemic hit last year, Schendel got his chance.
In March 2020, the Gunn High junior began refurbishing used computers and donating them to schools and nonprofits, which give them to students in need. "Especially during COVID, when kids needed technology the most to learn and actually go to school online, I realized that a lot of kids needed help," Schendel said.
Over the past year, Schendel turned his project into a full-fledged nonprofit called Electronics for Education, which is entirely student run. Along with three other high schoolers, Schendel has donated roughly 50 computers thus far.
The genesis of the idea came before the pandemic, when Schendel was volunteering for World Education Fund, a nonprofit that gives scholarships to students in developing countries. Through his work there, Schendel became aware that World Education Fund provides computers for students who don't have their own. He then learned that there are also students in his own community who lack computer access.
Schendel began finding used computers online to fix up and give to students in underserved communities. His first donation was to East Palo Alto Academy, a charter school in the Sequoia Union High School District. Other recipients have included the Arbor Bay School in San Carlos and World Education Fund, where Schendel used to volunteer. Electronics for Education accepts monetary donations, as well as computer hardware. For more information on the project, visit electronicsforeducation.org.
A YEAR WELL-SPENT ... The pandemic has caused ripple effects on every industry, including nonprofits. The Palo Alto Community Fund has made moves that have created their own ripple effect. Over the last 12 months, the fund has awarded $1.175 million to nonprofits.
"The generosity of our donors continues to help thousands weather some of the hardest days, weeks and months of this ongoing crisis," Executive Director Lisa Van Dusen said in a press release.
From August to December of 2020, the community fund handed out a total of $200,000 in COVID-19 relief grants for rental assistance, mental health services and other forms of assistance. (Roughly a year earlier, during the early months of the pandemic, the organization distributed more than $1 million in COVID-19 relief grants.)
PACF also distributed $800,000 to 69 nonprofits in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park this past March through its annual grants program to support efforts in tackling educational inequities and aiding vulnerable populations, among other needs.
Another $150,000 was awarded in April and May in the form of Dave Mitchell Impact Grants, named after the longtime community leader. The money was divided between the Ravenswood Family Health Center, United Hope Builders, Children's Health Council and EPACenter. An additional $10,000 was awarded in May to Menlo Spark, Climate Resilient Communities, Environmental Volunteers and LifeMoves through Cammie Vail Leadership Grants.
The organization saw a record number of donations for its annual appeal, according to Van Dusen. Contributions increased by 23% between fiscal years 2020 and 2021.