Imagine having to wait several hours for a computer at your public library just to get your homework done. That’s exactly the plight of thousands of disadvantaged school kids across the country whose parents—and schools—can’t afford to provide them a computer. Landmark grad Diane Lenz, a New York City-based IT business consultant, decided to do something about it: she helped found Comp2Kids, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower kids and their teachers through technology.
Lenz, a former eighth- and ninth-grade English teacher, says, “I wanted to extend the important difference Landmark Education made in my life out into the community. Who better to do this for than children? They represent the strongest return on investment in the world.”
Lenz used her masterful fundraising abilities and her list of business contacts to buy several hundred used computers from Wall Street banks and loaded them with Microsoft products. Lenz and her flock of volunteers distributed computers to all of the 137 sixth-grade students and laptops to the 107 teachers at Roberto Clemente School in Harlem.
“The training is the real benefit. My team goes into the school and trains the teachers, and then we actually travel to the kids’ homes to train them there,” Lenz says.
New York Schools Superintendent Joel Klein Comp2Kids has cited Comp2Kids as an exemplary program, and Lenz and her team have also been named “New Yorkers of the Week” by a local television station. The organization plans on donating 300 more computers to Roberto Clemente students.
“It’s been an incredible impact on these kids,” Lenz says. “We walked into a one-room home recently –a mother and a child living in one room—and we installed a computer. Neither of them spoke much English, but the gratitude, the hugs… it’s really touching because you knew that this was going to change this child’s life.”