WCE’s new Puerto Rico chapter has secured refurbishing and training space on the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico and also atÂ Escuela Superior Josefina Leon ZayasÂ in Jayuya. WCE Board member Robb Rill recently announced this news to the 20/22 Act Society, a business group that he founded, and he encourages its members to donate computers and to have some of their tech staff volunteer to help with training and tech upgrades in schools in Puerto Rico.
The new chapter is guided by a Steering Committee of 13 led by Robb, who is the managing director of The Strategic Group-Puerto Rico, a private-equity firm. The Chapterâ€™s daily operations are now managed by two members of the UPR faculty, Dr. Patti OrdÃ³Ã±ez and Professor AgustÃn Corchado. With Juan LeÃ³n, a workshop leader on robotics at a tech secondary school, they are recruiting student volunteers to refurbish donated computers and to expand the Spanish content pack that we load onto WCE computers for offline use.
To become more familiar with our operations, WCE sent AgustÃn Corchado and Juan LeÃ³n to Honduras in November to two week pilot a curriculum for training youths to refurbish computers. This eCorps trip was part of our contract with World Vision.Â AgustÃn and Juan will provide similar training to students from high schools near the UPR campus.
We are seeking business tech volunteers to work with these students on networking computers, learning software, and training in computer repair and use. We also seek donations of computers for our volunteers in Puerto Rico to refurbish.
We have begun our pilot at Ramon Vila Mayo and JosÃ© Celso Barbosa schools in Rio Piedras, Escuela Superior Lila Mayoral Wirshing, and Escuela Vocacional Republica de Costa Rica in Caguas. From this base we are expanding to more schools and involve academic teams in developing tools to empower girls and increase their involvement in STEM classes. They will also be analyzing the disposal of electronic waste. In three years we would like youth in Puerto Rico operating from three or four refurbishing and training Chapters on the island. Our goal is that they will form a hub offering capacity building, training, content, computers, e-waste and STEM help throughout the island and to countries in the Caribbean.
WCE-Puerto Rico has hired Maria LopesÂ as our Content and C4G InternÂ to be the contact for grad student volunteers from the Univeristy of Puerto Rico school of education recruited by Professor Joseph Carroll-Miranda. You can read her job description here. Please contact her at PuertoRico@WorldComputerExchange.org
You can see here our org chart showing the programs we envision for WCE-Puerto Rico. We are asking interested local schools to complete a needs survey. Please contact us if you would like the survey sent to you or a school in Puerto Rico by email.
Special thanks to the 20/22 Act Society, FundaciÃ³n Kinesis, and the WCE-Puerto Rico Steering Committee (below) for their generous support in getting our new chapter operational.
WCE-Puerto Rico is the first pilot of our Sustainable e-Waste Initiative. Patti Ordonez is currently acting as our Field Associate for Puerto Rico.
” WCE, that my firm has worked with for over 8 years, is uniquely positioned to address the chronic problem of a lack of working computers and technical understanding to maintain them in schools for children who need them most to learn. Puerto Rico measured by metrics of accessibility, is likely the worst compared to any U.S. State. With support from firms like mine and Putnam Bridge, we can bridge the disconnect between accessibility and knowledge.” – Robb Rill, The Strategic Group – Puerto Rico
The effort is unique to the market situation and demand for WCE services in Puerto Rico.
â€œThe concept of the Sustainable e-Waste Initiative is to locally source, refurbish, and recycle computers to serve local demand for low cost computers. The idea is to create a program to serve a local need sustainably and one that adapts as the need evolves â€“ there may be new opportunities that come down the road, and through the e-Waste Initiative, everyone moves up the learning curve in an environmentally and operationally sustainable way. As a pilot, Puerto Rico is just the beginning and we already see other countries where this specific model may be applicable.â€ – Stephen Sena, WCE e-Waste Director
Steve Sena and the entire WCE-Puerto Rico team are excited for this initiative is getting started. The biggest hurdle was developing a concept based on a documented need. Our field research revealed that upwards of 40% of the computers and networks in Puerto Rico schools do not work. Moreover, budgets and capacity are limited to repair these computers. In Puerto Rico, WCE aims to organize volunteers who can train teachers and students to install, troubleshoot, and repair technology, not only providing technology career readiness and know-how in the community, but also creating a socially and environmentally responsible movement to recycle e-waste and repair and refurbish computers that can be saved.
In Puerto Rico the Sustainable e-Waste Initiative will 1) repair computers in schools, 2) use them as a resource for training, and 3) take dead computers to a facility where students learn how to disassemble computers and salvage working parts. WCE is already seeing other countries where the e-Waste Initiative can be used as a model to recycle old technologies in schools, and is working with local actors to develop similar solutions.
This Initiative also aims to strengthen all of WCEs services like Capacity Building, youth and a Training, and Content.
The secondary focus of this initiative is raising awareness about the hazards of e-waste. As new Chapters come online, WCE will advance the next public outreach steps that we began with the website www.reciclemos.net that we co-developed for Latin America. We plan to undertake similar work with our Partner organizations in countries where we launch Chapters. Our key Strategic Ally in this part of the effort is global e-waste NGO WorldLoop. As part of our Puerto Rico effort, we plan to work with the technical assistance of WorldLoop and develop a certified recycling entity in Puerto Rico.
Computers for Girls
We have begun to pilot our Computers for Girls initiative with graduate students developing tools in Spanish for teachers to use to inspire girls to pursue careers in technology.
Corporate Donors for WCE-Puerto Rico
- 20/22 Act Society
- Adsuar MuÃ±iz Goyco Seda & Perez-Ochoa
- Dixon Construction Company
- FDF Real Estate Investment Group
- Paskewitz Asset Management
- Sanders Phillips Grossman, LLC
- The Strategic Group PR
- Trillion Realty Group, Inc.
- Yale Capital Corporation
Our WCE-Puerto Rico Steering Committee
- Robb Rill, Managing Director, The Strategic Group â€“ Puerto Rico and Founder, 20/22 Act Society
- Anne Burns, Director of Operations, RocketGate
- Donna Cohen, Newcomers Club of Puerto Rico, fundraising volunteer for WCE-Puerto Rico
- Migdaly Collazo, Hugo Neu Americas
- Enid ConcepciÃ³n, 20/22 Act Society
- Prof. AgustÃn Corchado, STEM ITEM, University of Puerto Rico, Co-Coordinator WCE-Puerto Rico
- Mark Gold, Ticket Clinic
- Jeremy Griffiths, Executive, Putnam Bridge Funding
- Ken Kay, Founder, San Juan Tech Meetup
- Josh Olmsted, Chatnik
- Dr. Patti OrdÃ³Ã±ez, Assistant Professor, UPR, Include Girls Faculty Advisor, Co-Coordinator WCE-Puerto Rico
- Dr. Cynthia Romero-Arroyo, Clinical Science Manager-Immunology, AbbVie
- Jose Enrique Fernandez, Fundacion Kinesis
- Timothy Anderson, CEO, World Computer Exchange