By Sybille Fleischmann, Project Lead, NetHope – Project Reconnect
“I am an Iraqi refugee, in Germany for two years and seven months. I regularly joined the study group (using Chromebooks at the library) in Bogenhausen, and was able to complete my language tests and the integration course. The language training at the computer was very useful for me.”
— Samer, refugee, Chromebook user
May 2018. Samer* is one of thousands of refugees who have been supported throughout 2016-2017 by Project Reconnect. The initiative, with funding provided by Google’s nonprofit arm, the Tides Foundation, provided laptop grants to nonprofits in Germany to helps refugees study German, learn about German culture, and to continue their education or find work. The nonprofit research institute, RTI International, estimated that by the end of 2017, Project Reconnect is estimated to have reached more than 500,000 refugees (Based on data from 7/2017).
Project Reconnect, administered by NetHope, awarded a total of 50 laptop grants. Grantee organizations included established non-profits, newly launched technology-focused organizations, and small regional initiatives. Resources at these organizations were already stretched thin to serve the needs of the hundred thousands of refugees arriving in 2015 and 2016. We learned quickly that to help the grantees to integrate the laptops more rapidly into their programs, we had to provide deployment support at all levels, to central management teams, onsite managers, trainers, volunteers and users. With the support from Google volunteers, we developed tutorials and handbooks on the deployment, administration and use of managed Chromebooks and shared best practices. All resources are now publicly available to help any initiative deploying Chromebooks.
With the distribution of the Chromebooks complete, Project Reconnect Chromebooks are today in use in a great variety of service offerings for refugees such as literacy classes and German language courses, in preparatory professional training programs, in refugee homes, and in libraries or internet cafe-type settings for study and research.
It is rewarding to learn about the impact on grantees and refugees through their stories and feedback. Several implementers saw, for the first time, the impact technology could have on their mission. We are excited that the project continues to have ongoing impact as the grantees will continue using Chromebooks in their work with refugees in Germany.
In the following video presentation, Lisa Stein shares more about the impact and lessons learned from Project Reconnect.
The Project Reconnect team would like to thank all grantees, staff, and volunteers for the innovative and creative use of Chromebooks in their work with refugees. Likewise, a big thank you to the team from Google.org, Google Germany, and the numerous Google volunteers who supported Project Reconnect with their expertise and involvement.
* Not his real name