2017 Annual Report

Letter from the Executive Director

When we first opened our doors in 1997, I couldn’t have imagined that the organization would evolve from providing affordable technology to schools to also providing life-changing technology training to people in need.

And yet, it makes sense. Workforce training has been at the heart of the organization since the very beginning. Since 1997, we have been providing our offender workforce with hands-on technology training – giving them an opportunity to improve their lives and learn employable skills. Expanding our training program into the community has been a natural evolution of our mission.

I am proud to say that we are not just providing technology to people in need - we are teaching them the skills they need to begin a career in IT and earn a liveable wage.

2017 positioned the organization for major growth in 2018 and I am eternally grateful to all of our partners, customers and supporters who have helped us along the way. Thanks to your support and contributions, we have empowered thousands of students to pursue a career in technology.

Tamara Gillard
Executive Director
Minnesota Computers for Schools

Our Mission

Minnesota Computers for Schools works collaboratively with schools and educationally focused community organizations to provide technology solutions and skills training to individuals in need.

Expand access

We refurbish donated computers and place them in schools and educational nonprofits that serve an at-risk population.


Our free CORE: IT classes provide students with technology certifications and the opportunity to pursue internships, employment and further education.


Our recycling program follows the highest standards to protect donors’ data and the environment. We are dedicated to secure information destruction processes and recycling end-of-life electronics.

Our Impact 2017- Expand Access

Our Impact 2017- Educate

Provided technology training to 236 students through our CORE: IT program

Our Impact 2017- Protect

3,038 computers were refurbished and put to good use instead of being destroyed.

... we also ...

Responsible manufacturing and respect to data security are paramount to our technology recycling and refurbishing work. MCFS follows rigorous standards set by leading entities such as the Department of Defense, HIPAA, NIAP and Microsoft to ensure that every piece of equipment that enters our workshop is handled according to industry best practices. We take our policies seriously, undergoing yearly audits that result in the following certifications:

ZERO data breaches
We are proud of our secure data wiping practices and are happy to report that we have never had a security breach in our 21-year history.

We anticipate final NAID certification in September, 2018.

In addition, we are also registered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and licensed by Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment to operate a Hazardous Waste Facility in the State of Minnesota.

Meet our Students

At Minnesota Computers for Schools, we work to provide life-changing technology access and training to people in need. Our CORE: IT training program provides free technology training to people who would otherwise be left behind in today’s digital world. This training not only gives students a clear career path in the technology field, but increases their self-confidence and leads to economic stability.


“My kids miss having their own house. They ask me, ‘Mommy, when will we have our own house again?’ I need a stable job so I can give my kids a place they can call home. This class has given me the opportunity to provide for my family.”


“CORE: IT opens doors for people – by supporting Minnesota Computers for Schools you’re not only supporting the community, you are saving a life from poverty and crime.”

Former Offender

I wanted to thank you for extending yourself by offering the support needed for me to get where I am now. These days I have meaningful employment, a new car and am working on creating more for myself by building my credit and forging new relationships and connections - no small feat considering where I was just 6 months ago.

Our Partners

It takes a small village to achieve our mission and we rely on the support of individuals, schools, nonprofits, companies and government organizations. A big thanks to our 2017 donors – we are grateful for your support and dedication to closing the digital divide.

Aaron Pinchem
Alec Papierniak
Alicia Eimers
Archie D. & Bertha H. Walker Foundation
The Benevity Community Impact Fund
Best Buy Foundation
Boyum & Barenscheer PLLP
Bremer Bank
Bruce Lindberg
Candace Gillard
Catherine Settanni
Craig & Julie Murphy
Daniel Grady
Deborah DuBois
Deborah Johnson
Debra McGahey
Debra Sevelius
Debra Page
Douglas Swenson
Ecolab Foundation
Erin Wait
F.R. Bigelow Foundation
Fidelity Charitable
Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation
Gary Jones
Gary Urban

Gwen Papierniak
Hardenbergh Foundation
Harvey Humes
Hnou Vang
Jacob Alt
Jared Wachter
Jason Noennig
Jeffrey HalburJerry Sosinske
Joel Krogstad
John Grosen
Julie Murphy
The K Foundation
Kaitlin McMahon
Karen Black
Kenneth Lewis
La Vang
Leah Anderson
Lee Yang
March Family Foundation
Mark Davy & Associates
Marla Haley
Michael Dahnert
Michael Klein
Minnesota High Tech Association
Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence
Nancy Hirschfeld
Neal Lewis
Network For Good
Paige Vinall

Patricia Hamilton
Pentair Foundation
Poehler/Stremel Charitable Trust
Protolabs Foundation
Rachel Simmons
Rebecca Baumann
Richard Braden
Saint Paul Foundation
Samantha Bennett
Steve Gillard
Steve Willems
Tamara Gillard
TCF Foundation
Thomas Brady
Timothy Barrett
Todd Vincent
Travelers Foundation
Tricia Parker
Valorie Klemz
Velocity Tech Solutions LLC
Vinoth Gopalakrishnan
WalMart Foundation
William Roddy

Equipment Donors

Without a steady flow of donated computer equipment from businesses, we would not exist.
55 businesses and government departments donated computers to MCFS in 2017 – putting it to good use in the community instead of tossing it in a landfill.

"Land O’Lakes donates computer hardware to MCFS to give back in the local community. It provides the exciting opportunity to impact the academic lives and future career opportunities of youth in Minnesota. By empowering students with access to computers and IT training, Land O’Lakes is inspiring the next generation of technology leaders."

-Leah Anderson
Vice President, Ag Customer Team, Land O’Lakes

"Partnering with MCFS provides us the opportunity to safely and responsibly maximize the value of our donated computer equipment. Together, we are helping to provide students access to technology and helping to build valuable computer skills for tomorrow's workforce."

-Erin Wait
2nd Vice President, Finance, Travelers

Learn more about becoming an equipment donor.

2017 Board of Directors

Deborah Johnson, Chair
D J Consulting L.L.C.
Sr. Management Professional
Karen Black
Leadership Effectiveness
Insight Edge
Doug Swenson
Accounting Manager
Lutheran Social Service
Erin Wait, Treasurer
Director of Finance
Richard Braden
Global Leader of Training & Development
Erick Maki, Vice Chair
Vice President
Bremer Bank
Marla Haley
Director of HR/Payroll Services
Paige Vinall, Secretary
Technology Manager
Val Klemz
Grants Specialist,
Interfaith Outreach & Community Partners
Leah Anderson
VP/IT Corporate Center & Supply Chain
Land O Lakes
Vinoth Gopalakrishnan
Independent Consulting (via CloudGen Systems)
Deb McGahey
HR Optrions LLC
Alec Papierniak
Software Engineer

Looking Ahead

In the next year, we will train more people in need, both through our existing programs and new initiatives. We will develop new curriculum, offer more classes and create a robust internship program - giving students an opportunity to put their skills to use and start a career in IT.  

To achieve this growth we will expand our community partnerships, which will give us access to more students. We will increase our equipment donor base because a steady stream of donated equipment is vital to the success of Minnesota Computers for Schools. We will expand our donor and volunteer networks because we cannot do this important work alone.

We know how to close the digital divide. With your help, we will.