By, Erin Carey, RCT Partner, Former TDSB Teacher 

The Importance of Loaner Laptop Programs, AND the need for more Computer Donations!

In January 2024, some students at Georgian College noticed how many other students were struggling late at school in darkened hallways to access limited loaner laptops.

“There’s six signout laptops at our campus available near the welcome centre that you can get with your student card, and that’s only for 4 hours at a time. Then you have to return it to the charging station. You can’t take them home to work with and the library has limited hours, and you can’t get everything done in lab time.”

There clearly was a problem of access for student success. Many ambitious and committed students, including the International and Indigenous community were finding it hard to finish homework and do research. “We pay so much for our education, and some of us fall in the cracks for access to OSAP and other grants and bursaries, so every penny counts. We access the Georgian financial aid, food bank, the clothing exchange, the school supply and textbook reusing programs already. That doesn’t leave anything for getting supportive tech for learning”

Connecting with Georgian College and their charity and community liaison office, they connected RCTO to the Georgian College Student Association who also works directly with the Georgian College Indigenous Resource Centre, and the Georgian College International Students Association.

“In this way, we’ve been able to support many needy students to distribute much needed basic technology for the completion of homework and research assignments. The main method of program delivery for our unique programs like Marine Technology, Nursing, Police Sciences, PSW, Hospitality, and CICE is online with the college Blackboard software for course management and that’s combined with in-person learning. Computer access is essential to the ability for students to complete work, build their skills, and work in mental health and wellness balance into their lives to really be the best learners they can be.”

“When I heard that there may be units available to access, I was over the moon. I’m a young, single mother, an international student, trying to go to school, and the time that I had to spend away from home to access computers made everything really hard. I survived a difficult health diagnosis, and recreated my life. This is a game changer, and I know I’ll be able to achieve more and be more productive being able to access a unit from the GCSA. It will ensure that other needy students aren’t competing as much for the hallway loaner program that just doesn’t support us the same after hours at home to work on our studies.”

Danielle Barlow, the GCSA Program Coordinator for Student Support said with great thanks that: 

“We hadn’t really been aware of the extreme need of some of our students from marginalized and poverty-affected backgrounds. We had the idea that the need was there, and then when students started to be able to access these laptops, we started getting incredible private thank you letters and notes that explained in-depth some situations of extreme hardship and personal challenge.

It’s been very successful already and we’re sincerely hoping that this relationship of support can continue. We are a non-profit charitable organization within the college, an arm of the student association, and we are aware of how many students are accessing the food bank, gas support cards to attend school, and applying for financial aid. OSAP does not reach some of the more needy students because of their unique qualifiers and combinations of hardship such as going to school with learning disabilities, health challenges, part-time jobs, expensive local rent, higher cost of groceries, family dependents, or higher international fees.”

Erin Carey, a former secondary teacher who is now a student at Georgian College retraining for a new marine industry career says:

“This developing relationship with RCTO is filling in a serious gap that is making the difference between success or failure for many students. We’ve received 35 laptops so far, and we could easily address the ongoing need with about 20 per semester. We are really hoping that businesses and governments continue to recognize that their older units can easily be wiped, refurbished, reimaged, and repurposed for students that just need a basic wifi laptop or desktop for schoolwork.

Our students here in Owen Sound are so thankful for the donors that provided their surplus, aged equipment to RCTO. I’ve had a relationship with this organization since 2008 and I’ve seen it grow, expand, and I know that the Grey-Bruce area has a lot of needs. I’ve recently connected with some other businesses in Ontario through my own networks and directed them to share their office downsizing inventory lists including AV devices, printers, photocopiers, and all desktops, monitors, and especially the highest demand, laptops or older tablets. They can quickly assess whether they can be repurposed. We’ve received things like office supplies and paper in the past as well, hand sanitizer, and gotten them out to places that can use them well.


In Bruce-Grey we have many underfunded elementary and high school communities where poverty has a big effect. We have the college. We have many extensions into high needs Indigenous communities. We have an opportunity here to really make a difference if professional donors can keep RCTO on their ‘fast dial’ and give them a call when they say to ‘clear things out’ or get newer technology. Have an inventory list of older tech you think you can funnel to RCTO? Please speak with Marie DeLuca and the team there. They have solutions that go out to users with one-off family needs, to school needs to community needs, to nonprofits.

It’s a very trustable stringent process of evaluation for distribution, and very well-managed. The laptops that are donated go to the most valid, high-priority needs. I’m proud to be one of the contacts that is helping to link RCTO to new situations in Georgian Bay and the Grey-Bruce Peninsula.”