2018 Annual Report

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

- Margaret J Wheatley

Over the past year, we have been on a journey of change and growth. Together, we have built a new home for Minnesota Computers for Schools in Minneapolis, developed an impactful internship program for our students and rolled out a volunteer program to allow us to engage on a deeper level with our supporters.

We are humbled and forever grateful for how far our community has brought us in just 12 months and how far it will take us in the years to come. 

The dedication of our community has paid off in major ways and it is reflected in the successes of our CORE: IT students, in their hope and excitement for their futures. They are dedicated to making a better life for themselves and for their families and the support of our community makes it possible.

Thank you for being part of our community.

Tamara Gillard
Executive Director
Minnesota Computers for Schools

Closing The Digital Divide

Everyone deserves access to the technology necessary to develop skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

Unfortunately, research shows that at-risk and minority individuals are not participating as much as they could in the IT field due to lack of opportunity and access to technology and skills training.

But we are changing that.

Our Mission

Minnesota Computers for Schools works collaboratively with schools and educationally focused community organizations to provide technology solutions and skills training to individuals in need.

Expand access

We refurbish donated computers and place them in schools and educational nonprofits that serve an at-risk population.


Our free CORE: IT classes provide students with technology certifications and the opportunity to pursue internships, employment and further education.


Our recycling program follows the highest standards to protect donors’ data and the environment. We are dedicated to secure information destruction processes and recycling end-of-life electronics.

Our Impact 2018

Expand Access


Provided technology training to 322 CORE: IT students

Provided internships to 21 CORE: IT graduates


2,252 computers were refurbished and put to good use instead of being destroyed.

... we also ...

Responsible manufacturing and respect to data security are paramount to our technology recycling and refurbishing work. MCFS follows rigorous standards set by leading entities such as NIST, HIPAA, NIAP and Microsoft to ensure that every piece of equipment that enters our workshop is handled according to industry best practices. We take our policies seriously, undergoing yearly audits that result in the following certifications:

ZERO data breaches

We are proud of our secure data wiping practices and are happy to report that we have never had a security breach in our 21-year history.

In addition, we are also registered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and licensed by Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment to operate a Hazardous Waste Facility in the State of Minnesota.

Growth in 2018

New Beginnings in Minnesota

After the tragic death of Officer Joe Gomm at the Stillwater Correctional Facility in July 2018, the Department of Corrections made the difficult decision to cease industry jobs for offenders, except for small assembly. As a result of this decision, our operations were discontinued immediately and our 2018 plan was put on hold. 

Over the months that followed, we began to build a new operations model that would allow us to keep our doors open while better serving our students, schools in Minnesota and the community as a whole. We are happy to report that we moved into our new space in Minneapolis at the end of 2018 and the organization is thriving. 

Thank you to every single person who supported us during this time of transition – we are excited for what the future has in store for MCFS!

Certifications in 2019

Our unexpected move in July 2018 caused a major delay in obtaining NAID certification.
We are happy to report that after moving into our new space in early 2019 we anticipate final NAID certification in September 2019.

In addition, we are also registered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and licensed by Hennepin County Department of Public Health and Environment to operate a Hazardous Waste Facility in the State of Minnesota.

New CORE: IT Training Sites + Classes

Our new space in Minneapolis has a dedicated classroom and we are working hard at getting ready to offer classes in house.
In 2018 we piloted a youth training program at Murray Middle School and 18 youth completed the program and earned a computer.
We’re laying the groundwork to begin offering A+ and Network+ classes this fall at the MCFS classroom in Minneapolis.

New Program: The MCFS Internship

When our shop at the Stillwater Correctional Facility closed, one of the challenges we faced was replacing our 35 offender workers. Many of our CORE: IT students had expressed interest in an internship that would allow them to continue to refine their skills while gaining valuable work experience so it didn’t take long to decide to create a paid internship program.

Student graduates apply for our 6-month paid internship where they continue their hands-on training in computer repair and recycling. Our internship program offers individuals an opportunity to build up their resumes, put their skills to use and continue to learn more about the IT field – all while earning a livable wage.

Open for Volunteers!

One of the greatest advantages of our new centrally-located warehouse is the opportunity to engage with the community on a deeper level. In the spring of 2019 we began opening our doors to volunteers and we couldn’t be more thrilled. So far, we’ve welcomed nearly 100 individuals, three corporate groups and four youth groups to our warehouse to help out with computer repair and recycling.

learn more

Board of Directors

Charlie Magiera

Deb McGahey
Secretary, HR Options LLC

Deb Johnson
DJ Consulting

Eric Henly

Erin Wait

John Gardner
Treasurer, Land O' Lakes

Greg Quayle
Deluxe Corporation

Leah Anderson
Land O' Lakes

Maria Haley

Otto Doll
Board Chair

Rich Braden

Valorie Klemz
Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners

Vinoth Gopalakrishnan
Bechtel Corporation

Our Partners

It takes a small village to achieve our mission and we rely on the support of individuals, schools, nonprofits, companies and government organizations. A big thanks to our 2018 donors – we are grateful for your support and dedication to closing the digital divide.

Alec Papierniak
American Honda Foundation
Anna Lovegren
Barbara Doyle
Barbara Vincent
Best Buy Foundation
Boston Scientific Foundation
Boyum & Barenscheer
Bremer Bank
Cara Berger
Catherine Settanni
Davd Scheffler
Deb McGahey
Debra Gramza
DEED Pathways to Prosperity
Desiree Culpitt
Diana Clem
Doug Swenson
EcoLab Foundation
Elise Balderrama
Eric Henly
Erin Wait
Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation

Gary Urban
Greg Quale
Greg Sharpe
Gwen Papierniak
Jacob Dalton
Jennefer Meyer
Jerry Sosinske
Jerry Vincent
Joel Krogstad
John Ashby
John Gardner
Julie and Craig Murphy
Kade MeddKaija Bergen
Kate Rubin
Katie McMahon
Kay Winchell
Ken Schuster
La Vang
Lee Yang
Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva
March Family Foundation
Marla Haley
Mike Linnemann

Minnesota State - IT Center of Excellence
Neal Lewis
Otto Bremer Foundation
Otto Doll
Poehler-Stremel Foundation
Russell Fraenkel
Subaru Foundation
Surly Brewing Co.
Tamara Gillard
Thomas Tieman
Todd Vincent
Tom Osowski
Travelers Foundation
Victoria Yarwood
Vinoth Gopalakrishnan
Wells Fargo Foundation

Looking Ahead

We believe that in our new space, with our new model we can make a larger impact than ever before.

In 2019 we will work to: 

• Expand technology training programs for youth and adults in our
on-site classroom space in Minneapolis.

• Build out our workforce program team to include an additional instructor,
recruiter and a navigator who will help students secure an internship
or full time employment after graduation. 

• Bring on new partners and engage with the community in new ways.