Though Apple has had more money than the U.S. government, and even beat out Exxon Mobil as most valuable in the world, the company is known for sitting Smaug-like on its horde of profits. However, during the past few weeks, Apple has steadily been implementing a charitable program which began last year—over 9,000 (not a meme) free iPad 1 units have been shipped to Teach for America corps in 38 states.
The public service program was initiated last spring when the iPad 2 was launched. Apple customers that were upgrading were encouraged at retail stores to donate their iPad 1 for the Teach for America program.
The non-profit teaching organization sends graduates from top schools to teach in low-income communities in the United States for a number of years. These graduates get paid very poorly in their struggle to bridge educational inequality.
However many units Apple collected, there were enough to offer a free iPad 1 to every member in Teach for America. An e-mail notice read, “What could an iPad do for your classroom and your students? Well, we’re asking you to help us answer this question.” The units were distributed over the last two weekends.
Though the refurbished iPad donations is a start in creating an Apple’s image of charity, there has been some criticism. Steve Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell, happens to be on the board of directors so nepotism is a word that has been used to label the donations. There’s also been speculation as to how much one iPad per classroom could actually accomplish. Zack Whittaker at ZDNet points out that the problem of reading won’t be solved by the introduction of a new tablet alone, though LeVar Burton may disagree. It’s a start.