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The students at Cabolutan Elementary School in the small town of Tablas Island in the Philippines have been learning to type on keyboards made of cardboard. They have the will to learn basic computing skills but not the hardware.

GadellNet is working to change that. The St. Louis-based small business IT consulting firm recently partnered with Cabolutan Elementary Charity to launch Pay IT Forward, an innovative program that aims to put computers in the hands of underprivileged kids who need them.

Because technology changes so rapidly, GadellNet has access to hundreds of computers that are no longer needed by their customers. While they offer little value to these businesses, they’re a vital asset to the school, enabling students to gain a basic knowledge of computer operations and learn a critical skill set.

“One of the best ways off the island is through education. A college degree will set you apart from everyone else, and using computers is a means to achieve that goal,” said Brendan Flaherty, founder of Cabolutan Elementary Charity.

When a customer needs a computer replaced they’ll be given the option to have the old one refurbished and donated. GadellNet technicians will wipe the existing hard-drive and install an Open Source Operating System, Ubuntu. The wiping of all data ensures customer information will not be accessible. Basic word processing functionality will then be installed.

GadellNet pays the needed shipping charges and, often, provides monitors to the children. The donating company receives a tax deduction from this 501(c) (3) non-profit organization.

GadellNet is actively seeking participation from its network of customers across the United States to grow awareness and a hardware base for this worthy cause. Pay IT Forward hopes to donate more than 100 computers in 2011. 15 computers have already been donated and the gifts are already paying dividends.

“The teachers, pupils and staff would like to thank you all of your generosity and full support of our school… as of now, we have increased our enrollment because of your help. It helps those pupils from the top of the mountain who walk at least 2 hours to reach the school every day,” Cabolutan Elementary Assistant Principal wrote in a thank you letter.

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