Refugees need computers, and The Global Good Project ensures they get them

Global Good Project
Global Good Project
You may have seen some very colorful ads from Cotopaxi pop-up in your social feeds if you have recently searched for a new coat or pack. Those ads usually include some smiling adventurer wearing sunnies in some amazing landscape wearing a vibrant jacket with a llama logo. At first glance it may seem like a brand catering to nostalgic color-blocking of the 80s and 90s, but if you scratch through the surface, Cotopaxi is more than an apparel company. It wants to be a force of good.

For starts, Cotopaxi is a benefit corporation. It “creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure.” It does this by donating 2 percent of all revenue to “high-impact organizations that build sustainable solutions in collaboration with local communities.” It also selects the organizations themselves, does research, and quantifies the impact together with its partners.

“We hope this program will reduce the discomfort that families feel when faced with such an abundance of new technologies.”

This year, Cotopaxi is rolling out a new joint initiative in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) of Salt Lake City, and the Utah Open Source Foundation, that combines some of its previous initiatives and focuses on the immediate needs of their community.

Called the Global Good Project, it’s a multi-part program comprised of a home mentoring initiative called Tech Mentors, and a computer science education model called the Coding Project. The Global Good Project also engages with the Utah Open Source Foundation to support “open philanthropy,” which is a term they coined to define the process of engaging the open source community in the development of effective tech solutions for the social sector. Project SAFE, an Android app that helps those new to the United States feel safe and when needed connect with 911 Emergency Services, is the first project to come out.

The Coding Project is an existing program that helps train refugees with computer science skills while also preparing them for jobs that fit their new skill set. Meanwhile, Tech Mentors lays the foundation for the Coding Project by installing computers in the homes of refugees and pairing them with skilled volunteers to serve as mentors, equipping the whole family with computer dexterity and literacy training.

Digital Trends spoke with Cotopaxi’s Chief Impact Officer Lindsey Kneuven about the undertaking of the Global Good Project, how it came about, and what you can do to be a part of it.

The Coding Project

“One of the biggest hurdles for New Americans integrating into the community is their ability to access meaningful pathways to employment, particularly those that provide a sustainable income,” says Kneuven.

“The Coding Program grew out of our mapping these jobs and the needs in the community.”

Cotopaxi saw an opportunity to engage the thriving tech community in Utah with the local refugee community through skills-based volunteerism to develop valuable mentorships, meet the growing need for tech talent, and promote digital inclusion.

“There are currently over 4,500 open jobs in computing across the state of Utah,” Kneuven adds. “I believe programs like these can harness the passion and expertise of the corporate sector through meaningful volunteer engagement while providing New Americans with the opportunity and tools needed to explore a rapidly evolving and exciting sector.”

“The Coding Program grew out of our mapping these jobs and the needs in the community,” says Kneuven. But they also mapped the skill sets and passions of the Cotopaxi team. “Utah is home to over 60,000 refugees – a number that surprises many people. At Cotopaxi, we are intent on promoting an inclusive community, and believe we can make a measurable difference in Salt Lake by connecting the tech community to New Americans in need of job readiness training, technical mentorship, and exposure to the variety of roles that exist within the sector.”

Global Good Project
Cotopaxi’s Chief Impact Officer Lindsey Kneuven

Cotopaxi ran this program with great success in 2016 and is moving it to the IRC to help accommodate its growth.

Tech Mentors

Soon to launch in February 2017 is the Tech Mentors program. “Tech Mentors provides rehabilitated computer equipment and in-home technical training for recently resettled refugee families in Salt Lake City. It is designed to repurpose donated or retired computer equipment to meet an important need, and harness skilled volunteers to transfer knowledge in a way that empowers their mentees,” Kneuven says.

The IRC will pair each family with a tech mentor (from the Cotopaxi community and beyond), who will go into their mentee’s home and help set up the computers. Program participants will learn computer literacy, internet safety, and navigational skills over the course of several weeks with their mentor.

“We hope this program will reduce the discomfort that families feel when faced with such an abundance of new technologies. We believe that empowering families with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate these machines will improve their access to resources, communication and knowledge,” states Kneuven.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering, or donating equipment and funds, read more on the website and use this link to email Cotopaxi’s partner, the International Rescue Committee.

Emerging Tech

‘Crop-dusting’ drones drop biodegradable sensors instead of pesticides

The future of farming might involve using drones to airdrop hundreds of tiny sensors, called PlantCopters, which can keep track of crop growth, crop health, and surrounding microclimate.

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in September 2018, from 'Spotlight’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Smart Home

Ex-Rolls-Royce engineer looks to conquer the tiny home market with the Conker

Meet The Conker. Resembling a soccer ball on stilts, this stunningly stylish glamping dwelling will convince nearly everyone who sees it that this is what the future of living looks like.

Polar improves heart rate tracking with its new Vantage wearables

Polar launched its latest lineup of devices. Known as the Polar Vantage V and the Polar Vantage M, both provide a new optical heart rate sensor, additional tracking metrics, and more.

Take your workout up a notch with two new fitness watches from Polar

The new Polar Vantage V and M fitness watches include improved heart rate tracking, better battery life, onboard virtual coaching, and connectivity to allow sharing workouts through social media.

ZenBivy’s new hybrid sleeping bag makes mummy bags look downright primitive

Ditch your traditional sleeping bag in favor of the new ZenBivy Light Bed, a versatile sleep system that combines a quilt, fitted sheet, and a sleeping pad to create a zipper-less option for campers and backpackers.

Drink what nature provides with the best water purifiers

Looking for reliable water purification? Staying hydrated is important, especially when you are hiking or camping far from civilization. Check out our picks of the best water purifiers for your camp, backpack, or pocket.
Emerging Tech

Stay up-to-date on Hurricane Florence’s path with these apps and websites

Looking to track Hurricane Florence's path towards the U.S. coast? This list of the best hurricane apps and websites with help you stay ahead of this or any future storm, and stay safe.

The 10 best windproof umbrellas to help you weather the storm

The rains have come and they have no mercy. Can your current umbrella handle everything nature can throw at it? Here are 10 of the best windproof umbrella deals available now to help keep you safe and dry.

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Self-balancing skates, tiny tripods, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!