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Computers for Schools (CFS) is an Industry Canada–led program that collects and refurbishes donated surplus computers for distribution to Canada's schools, libraries, not-for-profit learning organizations and Aboriginal communities. CFS helps Canadian students gain greater access to computer technology so they can develop the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy.
Since 1993, CFS has delivered more than 1.3 million refurbished computers and employed more than 6,000 youth interns across Canada. CFS operates refurbishing centres throughout Canada where surplus computers are refurbished and prepared for distribution. Workshops are staffed by youth hired under the Government of Canada's Youth Employment Strategy, volunteers (including current and retired telecommunications professionals), community members and students.
Each year, CFS workshops provide hundreds of young Canadians with paid, hands-on skills development opportunities through the Technical Work Experience Program. Youth interns have the opportunity to gain valuable experience toward future careers in the field of information and communications technology (ICT).
CFS also promotes environmental benefits by ensuring that computer systems are refurbished and recycled, keeping them out of landfills. Non-working systems are disassembled, with functional parts used to repair other systems.
Industry Canada administers CFS in partnership with the TelecomPioneers of Canada, a national volunteer association of current and retired telecommunications professionals, along with the provinces, territories and private and volunteer sectors.
Many organizations and private sector collaborators have contributed to the program's success. Partners include Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canadian National Railway Company, Manitoba Telecom Services, SaskTel and Telus.
CFS ensures that every computer provided to beneficiaries is user ready and complete with a monitor, mouse, keyboard and operating system software. To minimize the time needed for refurbishment and to get the computers to the schools, libraries, not-for-profit learning organizations and Aboriginal communities as quickly as possible, CFS only accepts donated equipment in good working order.
CFS accepts IBM-compatible computers at the Pentium IV level or better and Macintosh computers at the PowerMac G4 level or better. Schools and other learning organizations are asking for such equipment because this is the minimum level of technology required to handle the education software used in the classroom or to connect effectively to the Internet.
Accessories—such as working LCD monitors, printers, modems, scanners, digital cameras and CD-ROM drives—may also be available upon request.
Youth and skills training
Each year, with support from the Canadian government's Youth Employment Strategy, CFS workshops provide hundreds of young Canadians with hands-on training and opportunities in ICT.
The Technical Work Experience Program provides students and recent graduates from technology programs with their first job experience. This program hires students and recent graduates from information technology programs at colleges or universities and provides them with paid internship (up to a maximum of 52 weeks) in CFS repair centres across Canada.
Under the supervision of CFS repair centre managers, young technicians repair and refurbish computer equipment, sort and test computer software, and prepare and package computers for shipment.
They also provide technical support to local schools and school boards. In addition to gaining practical, marketable work experience, each young technician is encouraged to search for full-time work throughout his/her employment with the program.
Volunteers are an essential part of the CFS success story: the Pioneers are a co-founder of the program, and volunteers from telecom companies—including Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, Manitoba Telecom Services, SaskTel and Telus—continue to ensure the program's success across the country.
The motto of the Pioneers is “Answering the call of those in need.” Their members provide a broad base of community service programs that inspire over 20 million hours of volunteer time each year.
Volunteers from the Pioneers, as well as a range of volunteers from other organizations and local communities, help to staff workshops, undertake refurbishment activities and arrange deliveries of computers to schools, libraries, not-for-profit learning organizations and Aboriginal communities across the country.
CFS's security policies and standards are based on the Treasury Board of Canada's Operational Security Standard: Management of Information Technology Security (MITS). Each computer donated to CFS is completely refurbished, and the hard drive is wiped clean in accordance with the approved policies and guidelines of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) for Protected A and B documentation. CFS, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and CSEC worked collaboratively on the development of the disk wiping software used by CFS.
For more information on the CFS program, please visit the CFS home page.
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