SE: Learn and Earn Computer Education Program

Learn and Earn 

Learn and Earn is a program designed to support the student’s educational experience by allowing them to build, and keep for their own, a computer for his or her

educational use. To date, we have had over 450 students successfully participate in the program.

The students, junior and high school-age, spend 20 hours learning the basics of personal computer technology. Under

qualified supervision, participants learn the basic inner workings of a personal computer as they build one themselves. At the end of the program, the student has acquired a basic working knowledge of personal computer hardware and

has experienced the success of following through with a difficult, yet rewarding experience. In addition to a certificate of completion, the student is also presented with the computer he or she has assembled, to keep for their own

educational enrichment.


The idea of refurbishing computers and providing them to schools for educational purposes is not new to The Surplus Exchange. In addition to ours, there are other programs throughout the country that collect

used personal computers and, after a process of repair and renewal, donate them to local schools. The Surplus Exchange is working to fill a void that continues to exist — too many youth having too little access to

technology. By allowing the student to build and keep his or own computer, Learn & Earn benefits the participant by providing the opportunity to successfully complete a rewarding task and addresses the

student’s need to use a computer to continue his or her education beyond the classroom. The presence of a computer in the home would greatly enhance their exposure to computers at school. To have a

computer to prepare assignments on, to experiment with and even for amusement, has significant educational value.

Recognizing this need, we established Learn & Earn. By building their

own computer, each student Learns it and Earns it.


The benefits of the

Learn and Earn Program are found in four basic areas: educational, social, psychological and environmental awareness.


  • Educational benefits include the learning and application of new skills, following complex directions and improving attention span and concentration skills. As part of the program, students are

    taught to problem solve and complete the task of building their own computer. Once the computer is built, the participant will use it for home-based educational use.

  • Social improvements come from the teacher-student relationship and by learning to work within a group of peers to communicate, negotiate and compromise. Participants work in

    groups of two or three, making successful communication with instructors and peers essential to the completion of their computer.

  • Psychological benefits, such as improved self-esteem and self confidence, develop as a result of the successful experience of working with others in the completion of a complicated task.
  • Environmental awareness is an essential component of The Surplus Exchange’s Mission Statement. By building their own computers with recycled parts and components, participants are

    introduced to the concept of reuse and the importance of conserving our resources.


Those eligible are students currently, or soon to be enrolled in traditional

or alternative school settings. Experience is not necessary – desire is!


There is a cost to take each student through the Learn & Earn program, which includes the training, materials, the computer and printer. Since this is a program designed for students who otherwise would not be able

to have a computer at home, it is our intent that the students do not incur this cost.

We have targeted the business community and Foundations as a funding

source for this program. We are grateful to have the opportunity to present our funding request to you. Whether one student or a group, we request your financial assistance and sponsorship.

Future Computer Education Programs:

Surplus Exchange will soon be offering two new Computer Education Programs:

  • Together Tech, based on the same fundamentals as Learn and Earn, this program is designed to teach a family how to build, repair and operate a computer.
  • NPO’s Only, a short introductory course on that basics of Windows98 and general computer operation. This course is for not-for-profit organizations and their staffs who purchase new

    computers from The Surplus Exchange. The purpose of this course is to enable the new not-for-profit user to more fully utilize their new computer and to reduce new owner/operator errors.

If you should require any further information, please contact Rick Caplan, Special Projects Coordinator, 816-472-0444.