SE: Learn and Earn Computer Education Program

 The Surplus Exchange


Learn and Earn Computer Education Program:


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 educational use. To date, we have had over 200 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, free of charge.


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. But few if any of these programs have the student participate
in the construction of the computer or allow the student to own the computer
for home use. By allowing the student to build and keep their own computer,
Learn & Earn will benefit the participant by providing
the opportunity to successfully complete a rewarding task and will address
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

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:

This fall, Surplus Exchange will be offering two new Computer Education

  • 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, also like Learn and Earn, but for Nonprofit Organizations
    and their staff, using new parts and components. The goal here is to get
    a new computer to a NPO as inexpensively as possible and to minimize user
    error through hands on experience.

If you should require any further information, please contact Rick Caplan,
Executive Director,816-472-0444.

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The Surplus Exchange

Ph: 816-472-0444
Fax: 816-472-8105
e-mail: [email protected]