What will you accept? See Computer Equipment Donations for what we accept and do not accept.
Where can I drop off computers? At our office at 3101 12th Street NE, about four blocks south of the Brookland metro stop [at the intersection of 12th and Irving, NE].
Do you pick up computers? Yes. As a general rule, however, we do not pick up other computer equipment [monitors, keyboards, etc.] unless computers are included. We almost always need mice, and will pick them up in reasonable quantities on their own.
Do you provide tax receipts and letters acknowledging donations? Yes.
Are donations to First Time Computers tax deductible? Yes, both cash contributions and the value of donated computer equipment are deductible from reported income if you itemize deductions.
Do you take Macs? No.
Do you take laptops? Yes
Do you take really old computers? No. Computers to be donated must have a Pentium III or better processor [or an equivalent non-Intel processor]. We do not accept computers purchased new before 2001.
If my computer is too old for you to accept, where can I recycle it or properly dispose of it? Most local jurisdictions provide special handling for old computers and other electronics. Montgomery County and DC both provide appropriate disposal:
For Maryland: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/dep/solidwaste/useitagain/
For the District of Columbia: http://dpw.dc.gov/dpw/cwp/view,A,1202,Q,640279.asp
For recycling larger quantities of electronic gear, check www.turtlewings.com.
How do I remove personal information from my computer?
We wipe clean all hard drives as the first step in refurbishing computers donated to us. Nonetheless you should delete all personal files before donating your computer. We suggest the following steps.
 Save any folders, files, music you want to keep such as by copying them to a flash drive.
 Create a new user account with administrator status, calling it, for example, User or Owner. Log onto the new account, and from the new account delete each of the User Accounts you or others have created or used on the PC [they will appear in the User Accounts section of the Control Panel]. Be sure to check the box next to"Delete all Files."
 Uninstall programs you use including any banking, money management, email programs with address books, health related programs, and programs you use to connect with devices that you hook up to your PC, and all the data that does with them.
 Delete all of your temporary Internet files, cookies, and your internet history.
 Use the Find or Search function to see if names [especially your own name] words, or phrases of a personal or private nature [e.g., "resume," "medical," etc.,] names of friends or relatives, employers, etc that may still exist [sometimes in unexpected places] on your hard drive.
For the ultra-cautious, there is always the option of removing and destroying your computer's hard drive altogether before you donate it, though we'd prefer you use other ways of protecting your privacy. Favorite methods of destroying a hard drive – smash it with a hammer, drill holes through it, take it apart and shred the pieces, saturate it with Gorilla Glue.
What method do you use to wipe hard drives clean? We use the steps included in the software for installing a new operating system on the PC: delete the hard drive's partitions, re-partition the drive, and then format the new partition[s]. While there are more secure methods, no donor has yet required that we use such methods.
How do you select recipients of computers after you fix them up? Recipients must be low-income. We require prospective recipients to provide proof that they are receiving benefits under any one of a number of government assistance programs. Laptops are reserved for low-income students providing us with letters of acceptance from institutions of higher education, as well and proof of low-income status. Nonprofits must be small, neighborhood based group with programs for at-risk children, youth, and/or adults. In some cases, we rely on nonprofit partners to screen low-income people they serve or train to determine eligibility – several of our partners provide our computers to graduates of computer skills courses they run for low-income people. Once through these screens, families, individuals, and nonprofits are served on a first-come, first served basis. If need be we place applicants on a waiting list. Most of the time, however, we do not maintain waiting lists except for laptops applicants..
How do I get a computer? It's simple. Phone 202-722-2822 or come by the office, and sign up [most provide proof of low-income status]. You will be asked to provide us with your name, phone, address and names and ages of children in your household. The usual waiting time is a week or two.
How much do these computers cost?To keep the program going, we charge modest amounts for our computers. Desktop systems complete with our full software package, a flat panel monitor, keyboard, mouse and cables start at $125. Laptops also start at $125. Laptops with wireless start at $165.
Are the computers reliable? We make them as reliable as we can. We give each computer a final shake-down test just before we bring it to you. If we deliver a computer to you, we set it up and confirm that it is in good working order. However, all computers, refurbished or new, can and do develop problems.
Do you offer lessons on how to use a computer? Lessons on the basics of using computers are currently available at Byte Back, a local DC non-profit, and by several other organizations. Phone us at 202-722-2822 for suggestions. We offer training in how to fix computers, but not in how to use computers.
Do you repair computers? Yes, We resolve as many problems as we can by phone. If we cannot walk you through a solution on the phone, we will ask that you drop off your computer to our office at 3101 12th Street NE . We make home visits if necessary, as time permits. If we can't fix a computer, we will replace it with one that works. We offer upgrades as well. We require you pay a diagnostic fee for dropping off a PC unless you got it from us less than 30 days before. The diagnostic fee is applied against the total cost of the repair when the repair cost exceeds the diagnostic fee. We repair PCs that we did not refurbish, but charge higher fees.