Softchoice and Lenovo partner up to POWER UP schools in need


Here at Softchoice, we believe technology is a powerful learning tool and a means to a better world.

When applied to classroom learning, the use of technology challenges children to think critically and to solve problems in new and innovative ways. It connects them with the most current information and interactive learning programs available, and it nurtures a more social and collaborative classroom environment.

Many schools across North America, however, are strapped for cash and have had trouble keeping up with basic infrastructure demands. Technology, like laptops and tablets, are considered a ‘nice to have’ by comparison and a much lower priority.

As a result, schools rely heavily on local fundraising, particularly through parents, to fill in funding gaps. This places schools in low-income neighborhoods at a particular disadvantage, as their fundraising tends to yield far less than schools in more affluent areas. These same families are also far less likely to have a computer or Internet access at home.

Through the IT solutions we’ve delivered to our educational clients, Softchoice and Lenovo have seen firsthand the positive impact technology can have on student engagement and achievement. That’s why we were so excited to launch POWER UP: Technology Grants for Schools in Need.

The concept is simple: Award technology grants of up to $10,000 each to deserving schools to support students’ learning and development. Together with Lenovo, we are seeking to bridge the digital divide and empower more kids to succeed through access to technology. We’re also supporting a decade-long mission started by our own employee-led, corporate giving program, Softchoice Cares.

Since 2006, Softchoice Cares has raised more than $1.5 million for local and international charitable organizations to unleash the potential of people and technology. It’s the philanthropic spirit of our people that is central to our award-winning culture and inspires initiatives like the POWER UP program. In fact, the entirety of Softchoice’s share of the POWER UP technology grant funds came from our employees’ volunteer endeavors.

Now we need your help to unleash the potential of students by nominating an elementary or middle school that could benefit from a $10,000 technology grant! In our inaugural year, the POWER UP program is reserved for publically-funded schools serving students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 in the following cities: Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Toronto and Montreal. Softchoice will contact all nominated schools that fit the program criteria to encourage them to apply for a POWER UP grant.

Are you an educator in one of these seven cities? You can find full details on eligibility and application deadlines on the POWER UP website, or you can apply now on behalf of your school by filling out either the Canadian or U.S. application forms and submitting them to powerup@softchoice.com.

We’re always searching for exciting opportunities to engage with like-minded people, from our employees to our vendor partners like Lenovo, to make a difference for those in need.

Let’s POWER UP schools in need and students together!

India: Finding Harmony Within the Noise

India: Finding Harmony Within the Noise

The end of the first work week got off to a rough start for me. The spicy and exotic Indian food that was so great the first few days was now losing its charm. The constant honking and swerving to get to the work site did not make for a pleasant morning. Even the worksite business of schlepping stones, mixing and pouring concrete, which at first, a refreshing break from the daily grind of life in NYC, was now just painful.

But after we took a break at the Jatan office and got some good news about the internet upgrade needed for the project, we loaded up the cars to head to the worksite and my outlook started to change. Our driver, who had come off as shy the first few days, put in a CD of some amazing Indian dance tracks and cranked up the volume. As we cleared the town, a beautiful song came on with a man singing over what sounded like an acoustic guitar and everything seemed to fall into place. The goats, cows, water buffalo, sheep, camels, pigs and wild dogs that roam freely in the streets all seemed to be right where they belonged and the honking seemed to provide a nice back beat to the soundtrack. We all felt a renewed energy as we headed back to the worksite.

After an afternoon spent knocking out the last of the foundation and the pillars, our hosts took us out to a village near his home where we loaded onto some cow-drawn wagons and journeyed through some fields to an amazing thousand year old, lake-side temple. The beauty and tranquility at the temple seemed so much more intense after experiencing the entire week’s sensory overload. To end the day, the cofounder of Jatan invited the team to his home. We drank some some tea and learned about life in the upper cast and what inspired him to give back and have more meaning in his life.

However, the tranquility of the afternoon quickly wore off again on the crazy drive back to the hotel. As we flew down a “two lane road” that would be best described in North America as a poorly maintained bike path. Out of nowhere, a turn signal came out of the dark. I assumed this to be someone merging into the road, and what I thought would force our vehicle into a ditch. After no panicking from our driver, I quickly realized the signal wasn’t what he was attempting to do but was simply communicating to our driver to go around him. It suddenly became clear to me, the incessant honking I’ve come to know quite well in India isn’t drivers getting angry and telling people to get out of their way, but just letting each other know where they are so they can safely avoid them.

I still don’t think I will really ever understand the chaos in India. However, I certainly went to bed with a new appreciation and perspective on finding the moments of harmony in the daily madness of life here.

SC Cares International Project 2015: Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural India!

TJatan Logohe countdown is on as the Softchoice Cares Board anticipates its departure to Rajasthan, India on February 6th for its next International Project! Softchoice’s employees and our partners support and donate time and money to local causes across North America throughout the year. To spread the orange even further, Softchoice Cares also chooses one organization to help bridge the digital divide across international borders every 18 months.

Improving education and training through technology!

Jatan PicThis year, our 12-person team will support Jatan Sansthan – a local, grassroots, not-for-profit organization that supports the rural villages of Rajasthan Province, India. Jatan’s vision is to have an equal, empowered society in India – and provides programs that give equal access to health care, advocacy and technology, with an emphasis on ensuring women and children have fair opportunities for education.

How is Softchoice supporting Jatan?

Jatan runs Education and Youth Resource Centers in the remote rural villages of Rajsamand districts of Rajasthan. Softchoice Cares is supporting the organization’s continued success by:

  • Providing computer resources and access to technology for over 240 students visiting Jatan’s Centers.
  • Supplying computers, educational software, and a strong network backbone to provide internet access.
  • Working together to help build the first of the organization’s three new facilities in a nearby village. (Jatan has already started on the foundation for the building – check out the pics below!)

The new technology set-up will improve Jatan’s ability to continue its success of achieving their vision and improving literacy rates amongst community children, and generating awareness towards education. In addition, approximately 10% of students will receive the improved vocational training required to obtain employment – something they may not have had the opportunity to do!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Jatan and help unleash potential by providing people with access to technology and edcuation in rural India!

You can stay updated on our progress in India by checking back on the CSR blog and Liking our SC Cares Facebook page for daily updates!

In the meantime, to learn more about Jatan’s programs, please visit the charity’s website.

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