Technology has changed the way Americans do business and computers are now a necessary tool for nonprofit organizations, students and businesses which serve the community.
However, the cost of computers and related equipment can be prohibitive and that’s where Nonprofit Technology Resources (NTR) computer thrift store at 1524 Brandywine St. steps in to lend a hand.
“The retail market has prices for computers that are out of reach for a lot of people, many people live paycheck by paycheck and even a few hundred dollars is a lot of money for them,” said Steven Feldman, executive director of NTR.
Feldman said NTR has prices as low as $75 for a complete working computer system and because of this nonprofit organizations and other members of the community are able to acquire the technology they otherwise couldn’t afford.
“We work with a lot of agencies everyday and we do a number of things for them [nonprofit agencies],” Feldman said.
Internships are one of those things.
“We take on students from nonprofits and several academic institutions and provide them with really compelling and relevant work experiences,” he said.
This work experience is beneficial for someone looking to acquire skills necessary for today’s job market as well as those who are a part of welfare-to-work programs looking to get back on their feet.
Nick Bisaccia is a member of NTR and said the group is on a mission.
“Our mission is to ensure that all Philadelphians, regardless of income, have access to information technology and the capacity to take advantage of the academic, economic and social opportunities that today’s technology affords,” he said.
NTR leadership advised digital illiteracy inhibits the education and growth of those living in, what they call, under-resourced communities throughout Philadelphia.
By training members of the community in the basics of computer technology and providing access to information technology well below market costs, NTR hopes to bridge the digital divide.
Bisaccia said they have worked with a number of groups and organizations to continue providing these services.
“We work with a variety of organizations such as ITT Technical Institute, Lincoln Tech and other organizations and these organization and these individuals come in for the experience of working on computers that are donated,” he said.
Donated computers either go to the thrift store where they are refurbished and sold at low cost to the community or one of the other NTR programs where they are given away to free.
“The computer thrift store was just a great way of operating our nonprofit to build a little overhead and also to have those computers available to the community at a very low cost,” Bisaccia said.
Justin Moore volunteers at the store that, along with other activities works with IT repairs.
“I been involved with NTR for about a year now through a work-study program with the CCP (Community College of Philadelphia),” he said.
Moore noted he has moved through most departments in NTR store since that time including refurbishing and repair, the warehouse and warranty repair.
Moore, who has two more classes at CCP and expects to graduate in the fall, said that working with NTR gives him a heads up on most others seeking to enter the IT field.
“The store opened its doors in 2004 and has opened 5 days a week since that time,” he said.
The store sells computer hardware and software equipment and offer warranties on their products as well.
“It’s a great place to find a computer item that you have been looking for for awhile or if you just really need a desktop, it’s a great low-cost alternative to your local retailers,” Moore said.
Those who wish to donate computers or find out how they could acquire them for their nonprofit or other use can call them at (215) 564-6686 or visit them on the web at ntrweb.org. Store hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.