Computers for Schools Reaches Milestone

Ingrid Neitsch, principal of Edmonton’s Victoria School of Performing Arts, discusses the value of Computers for Schools during the 50,000th donation celebration, April 16.

Major APEGGA permit holders are among the companies who’ve made supporting CFS with donations a key part of their technology upgrade programs. ATCO says donations to CFS allow the company to support the environment while helping build Alberta’s future. As for the students of Alberta, they’re now 50,000 computers ahead.


When APEGGA permit holder ATCO found out about Alberta Computers for Schools in early 2000, the fit was obvious. The company had already been donating some of its old equipment to organizations throughout Alberta, but preparing the equipment and following up to make sure it worked properly were proving to be costly steps.

“We actually hired summer students to do much of the work required to donate equipment,” said ATCO I-Tek Senior Communications Adviser Brenda Semeniuk. And ATCO – a group of companies involved in energy, power, technology and other industries – was unable to pass along software because of licensing restrictions.

Donations in the communities ATCO serves were one-off opportunities. More often, ATCO sold computers to employees or second-hand dealers, or even gave them up for scrap, said Ms. Semeniuk.

Since March 2000, ATCO’s “end-of-life” computers have been going straight to Alberta Computers for Schools, a 10-year-old partnership of Alberta Learning, Alberta Infrastructure and the federal government’s Industry Canada. In mid-April, the program celebrated delivery of its 50,000th computer, with ceremonies in Edmonton and Calgary.

“Alberta Computers for Schools is just a tremendous opportunity for us. It supports our policy of being environmentally responsible, it streamlines our computer asset management process, and most importantly allows us to invest in the students of our province,” said Ms. Semeniuk. “We truly believe students are the future of Alberta, and that some of these students are our future employees. It’s important that they have access to computers.”

Lucien Villeneuve, Computers for Schools executive director, couldn’t agree more. Corporations large and small, as well as individual APEGGA members, can make a difference by building donations into their work cultures, he says.



Microsoft Canada supports CFS by providing free licenses for operating systems, Mr. Villeneuve points out. About 20 staff and volunteers make sure the equipment is clean, functional and delivered to the schools that need it. Computers are warehoused and refurbished in Edmonton and Calgary, but delivered throughout the province.

“We eliminate all the hassle,” said Mr. Villeneuve. Companies don’t have to find end-users, and they even receive tax receipts for their donations. And they make fair, efficient use of their old equipment.

TELUS, Shell Canada, Imperial Oil and ATCO are the major companies that have become part of the CFS system. ATCO began donating in March 2000, after a company president learned of the program’s existence.

Last year, ATCO donated 994 computers and laptops to CFS, plus 80 printers and more than 1,000 monitors. The year before, the totals were 778 computers and laptops, more than 950 monitors and more than 75 printers. The team at ATCO I-Tek is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the ATCO group’s CFS program in both Edmonton and Calgary. I-Tek also takes an active role in fostering the ATCO relationship with the CFS program, to ensure it remains successful.

Ross Plecash, P.Eng.
. . .CFS board’s vice-chair

Ross Plecash, P.Eng., Director, Corporate & Member Affairs for APEGGA, would like to see more APEGGA permit holders support CFS. He sits on the CFS board of directors as vice-chair.

“ I see my role as a connection to our members and permit holders, who use computers extensively in their engineering, geological and geophysical practices,” said Mr. Plecash. “These are typically high-end computers. This is very high quality equipment that can be passed along to students.”

He suggests that companies that lease their computers extend their leases by only a few months so they can completely write off their computer equipment, and then pass the machines along to CFS. “This is a tremendous source of really good equipment,” he said.

APEGGA has been involved with Computers for Schools since its inception in 1994.

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