SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A new program aims to help people in San Diego experiencing homelessness by offering job training, while also giving graduates a free computer.
“It’s really difficult to find housing if you don’t have a source of income. So that’s what these programs are able to provide,” says Drew Moser, the Executive Director of the Lucky Duck Foundation.
His foundation provided $1 million to Computers 2 Kids. The money will be used to offer job training in tech and warehouse-specific industries. This will help people experiencing homelessness find steady careers in high-demand fields. After completing one of 10 different training programs, graduates get a free, refurbished computer.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Computers 2 Kids offered free computers to students in need as a way to bridge the digital divide.
As the pandemic waned, CEO Cheri Pierre realized computer access is crucial for people of any age.
“It’s not just students,” she says. “It’s individuals who are seeking employment, wanting to go back to school, being able to access government and federal resources. All of that requires a computer today. It’s no longer a luxury but a necessity for success.”
James Kellogg is a recent graduate of the program. He lost his job in Arizona during the Pandemic and came to California for a fresh start. Soon after, he wound up living on the street. Now, he’s the warehouse manager at Computers 2 Kids.
“I went from not having any prospects to having a great opportunity,” Kellogg says. He believes the free computer was a vital part of the equation.
“It helped me out with all kinds of things. There’s pretty much nothing you can do anymore without having the technology to be able to go online, do resumes, fill out job applications if you need to, or anything like that.”
Most homeless outreach programs in San Diego focus on housing. Moser believes this strategy can be just as effective.
“We’re never going to build our way out of these circumstances,” he says. “That’s why we found a whole bunch of cost-effective, immediate strategies that will provide folks with a bright and quick pathway off the streets.”
“We’re looking for every opportunity to give folks a hand up not a handout.”
Pierre says that nearly 3-dozen people have already gone through the program in its first few months. She thinks it can help hundreds of people get the skills they need to climb out of homelessness.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Pierre says . “Before, these careers may not have been an option for them. We’ll ensure they have the skill set so they can enter into an entry level position with a future for growth.”
Pierre adds that Computers 2 Kids is always looking for old computers to refurbish and give out. For more information about the program or donation opportunities, go to c2sdk.org or luckyduckfoundation.org.