PC's to the People

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
ReUse Industries
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

"The purpose of the corporation shall be to promote, support, sponsor and conduct economic development activities, including research, job creation, job training and business development, utilizing waste and discarded resources."

Submission Information

Impact Essay

ReUse Industries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit reuse center located in the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio. Our mission is to maximize economic development by utilizing waste and discarded materials. We accomplish this through the operations of our reuse facility in Albany, Ohio, and two satellite thrift stores in nearby Athens and Wellston, Ohio.

In 2004, ReUse Industries began purchasing Microsoft licensing software through TechSoup to launch a new program, PC’s to the People. The goal of this program is to reduce electronic waste in our service area while providing an opportunity for local low-income residents to purchase a reliable personal computer at a fraction of the cost of a new system. The Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) Program has enabled us to offer refurbished computer systems at affordable prices to families and individuals living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Each year more than 100 internet-ready computer systems (CPU, monitor, mouse and keyboard) are made available to residents in eight Southeast Ohio counties.

In an area where per capita income is much lower than the national average, it is important that the computers we refurbish are affordable to our low-income residents. This is possible because of our participation in the MAR program. Each year, our customers save a combined total of more than $50,000 in disposable income by purchasing computers from ReUse Industries.

A majority of the computers restored by ReUse Industries make their way into homes of residents in Athens and Vinton County. Both counties are labeled as “distressed” by the Appalachian Regional Commission. This means that unemployment and/or poverty rates in both counties are at or above 150% of the national average, while per capita income is at or below 67% of the national average. Given these statistics, we believe that by offering these residents access to a personal computer, we are creating opportunities for individuals and families that would otherwise be unavailable. While federal programs are in place to help this part of the nation bridge the “digital divide,” working with Microsoft has allowed us to act locally to ensure that our own residents aren’t left behind in the information age.

Because options for recycling computers are limited in this part of Ohio, this program also offers our businesses and community members the opportunity to limit their own carbon footprints. Besides accepting computer donations at our recycling facility, we have also partnered with local schools and colleges to accept larger donations. The benefit of these partnerships is two-fold; while we have provided schools with an environmentally friendly solution for proper electronics disposal, they have also become the largest donors of the computers that make their way into local homes.

While our organization has always been committed to reducing waste by reusing, launching PC’s to the People has enabled us to expand our inventory to include computer monitors and towers, laptops, printers, keyboards, disk drives, mice and speakers. By accepting donations of these items, we are improving upon our goal of keeping reusable and recyclable goods out of the landfill, greatly reducing hazardous electronic waste. In the past year alone we have diverted more than 18,000 pounds of electronics from the waste stream.

Without access to the Microsoft licensing software, PC’s to the People could not have been started. We are grateful to Microsoft and TechSoup for their services. As a result of our involvement in the MAR program, we have thus far been more successful in our mission to heal the economy and the environment of Southeast Ohio.


Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
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