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High-Tech Times Article 001

Computers for Kids Program 

         I'm going to familiarize you with the "Hawaii Computers for Kids Program."  This program was started by me in 1992 working with the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce, Department of Education, and Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.  The goal of Computers for Kids is to obtain used computers, software, peripherals, and supplies from individuals and companies that no longer need them, and can donate these tax-deductible items to the Hawaii school system for use by kindergarten through twelfth grades.  This is a lot better use of these older, but still usable, assets than dumping them in landfills and using them as doorstops.

The U.S. Department of Education recently conducted a study showing that there is only one computer system for every 24 of our schoolkids in Hawaii.  This doesn't compare very well with the nationwide average of one computer for every 10 kids.  Budget constraints have kept DOE computer purchases down to where more computers wear out than are being bought.  And over 90 percent of the computers already in the schools are less powerful than the Sega and Nintendo game systems available at the store for less than $100.

Even the Federal Government is getting into the act.  The Taxpayers Relief Act of 1997, signed into law by President Clinton this month, contains expanded tax incentives for private enterprise to donate computer technology, equipment and software to K‑12 schools.  Under the 21st Century Classrooms Act, a measure of the Taxpayers Relief Act, companies and individuals donating computers less than two years old are able to take a charitable tax deduction equal to the original purchase price of the equipment. Under the new law, a company donating a $1,000 computer, within two years of purchase, to an eligible K‑12 school would be able to take a charitable tax deduction of the full $1,000 purchase price.  This is like getting to use your computer absolutely free for two years! Under current law, the donors would only be able to take a tax deduction of about $400 Fair Market Value for the computer.  I have also been working with State Senator Carol Fukunaga to get an equivalent Hawaii tax deduction for donors.

To date, over $2,000,000 of computer equipment has been donated by hundreds of individuals and local companies.  Computers for Kids is looking for an additional $5 million in donations over each of the next five years.  Your help will be greatly appreciated.  Please contact me if you have any computer equipment or software to donate.  Mahalo nui loa!

In my next column, I'm going to start talking about computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), a subject near and dear to my heart.  See you next month.