INDIAN HILL, Ohio -- Old technology is getting a new purpose, and students in need are getting educational resources, thanks to a nonprofit founded by an Indian Hill High School student.
Indian Hill senior Milan Bhandari founded Fix N’ Give about two years ago, inspired by his experiences tutoring Bhutanese refugees.
“One of the things I taught them was how to use online resources,” he said.
While he was equipping the students with the knowledge for using the resources, he soon realized many of them didn’t have access to technology to use those resources. So, he began working with individual families, fixing and providing them with computers.
He has since begun working with other organizations, like Crayons to Computers and Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio, to provide technology on a broader scale. Along with six or seven other Indian Hill students, Bhandari this year has refurbished about 300 pieces of technology.
“He could tell there was a real need for this, and there was a lot of technology available, if someone was willing to put the time in,” said Sarah Westrich, director of programs for Crayons to Computers.
While laptops and desktop computers are some of the more common types of technology, Bhandari has refurbished cellphones and tablets, as well.
“We’ll take anything from computers to printers to cellphones, desktops, monitors,” he said.
He collects electronics considered to be outdated – most of which are roughly five to seven years old – from Crayons to Computers and by soliciting donations. He and his friends then put in new hard drives and RAM (random-access memory) devices and reinstall operating systems.
Once the electronics have been fixed, he passes them along to schools and individual families in need of the technology.
“I know there’s been a few schools that have been impacted tremendously through the program,” Westrich said.
Fix N’ Give recently has been working with Goshen Middle School and William H. Taft Elementary School to provide devices for students. The number of devices given to a school or organization varies based on the number of students in need.
“It kind of just depends on what the needs of the school are, and we kind of go from there,” Bhandari said.
As a behavioral health counselor for the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Mary Tanner does in-school therapy for students at Taft Elementary.
“The kids that I see are really in poverty,” she said. “A lot of them do not have home computers.”
“A lot of the kids that don’t like school and have issues about coming to school are the ones who are behind in school work,” she said.
Seeing that many students didn’t have access to technology, she reached out to a Crayons to Computers representative, who connected her with Fix N’ Give. The nonprofit wound up providing 50 laptops for Taft Elementary students.
Tanner would like to see such resources made available district-wide, but she hopes for an increase in students at Taft working and learning at appropriate grade levels.
“Certainly if we can at least give them that opportunity, I think that’s the beginning,” she said.
“As technology has changed our educational landscape, the more ways we can help students feel excited about learning, the more likely they are to succeed,” Westrich said.
Things look promising for Fix N’ Give, as well. In September, Bhandari and his comrades organized an entrepreneurship and technology symposium through which they raised $14,000 for the nonprofit. Bhandari anticipates that the symposium will continue as an annual event.
He doesn’t plan to continue in his role as the organization’s president after graduating, but he expects to see it continue under the leadership of an underclassman.
“We’ll most likely give control to someone who’s been helping us,” he said.