About Us

  1. Our Strategy
  2. Our Process
  3. Our Beliefs
  4. Our Results

Our Strategy

VISION

GSTEP envisions a Greater Salem that prioritizes local reuse, repair and redistribution of functional electronics technology above repurposing or recycling.

Purpose

GSTEP exists to create and sustain socially equitable and environmentally conscious technology resources for the Greater Salem area.

Mission

GSTEP provides access to technology resources for people who have barriers to employment and education.

In pursuit of our mission, we

  • Focus on empowerment and education for disadvantaged Oregonians;
  • Facilitate access to computer and internet resources;
  • Recycle computer hardware and other electronics in a responsible, safe and ethical manner, keeping hazardous waste out of Oregon’s soil and water environments;
  • Provide training opportunities to those who may otherwise be unemployable, who are currently underemployed, or who are new to the job market;
  • Offer education to the general public regarding the importance of reusing and recycling electronics, and on the impact of these kinds of waste on our environment;
  • Accept donations of computers and other electronic equipment, computer-related items, software, and manuals;
  • Refurbish computers and other electronics and provide with training to people who do not normally have access to this technology;
  • Sell additional reusable items at an extremely low cost to keep them in-use and out of the waste stream; and
  • Sort and dismantle unusable donations for recycling at facilities that meet our environmental stewardship standards.

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Our process

  1. GSTEP receives donations of electronics, including computer hardware (desktop computers, laptops, handheld games, cell phones, etc), household electronics (clocks, radios, lamps, etc), “white” (microwaves, stoves, dryers, etc.) and “brown” (stereos, VCRs, DVD players, etc.) goods.
    • GSTEP may receive small donations directly from individuals.
    • GSTEP also receives donations from Donation Partners, who are small to large-sized businesses, organizations or agencies seeking to dispose of electronics equipment.
  2. All donations go through a triage process to determine suitability for reuse, repair and redistribution or recycling.
    • Program staff lead volunteers and other trainees through the triage, reuse and recycling processes.
    • Trainees develop literacy among every phase of electronics product lifecycle, including effective use and responsible disuse.
    • After a period of training, participants receive a computer to complete their education in information technology literacy.
  3. GSTEP attempts to reuse and redistribute all donations that are working or requiring repair. GSTEP redistributes technology through its Technology Grants and through its storefront. GSTEP strives for economic self-sufficiency through revenue generated by its sales and recycling programs.
  4. GSTEP grants computers and other needed electronics back out to the Greater Salem community.
    • GSTEP provides grants directly to individual trainees, under-funded schools, nonprofits and small businesses.
    • Placement Partners help GSTEP grant computers or other needed electronics to children and adults living in foster care, persons experiencing disabilities, family members leaving domestically violent relationships, migrant worker families, and others who experience barriers to participation in the world’s economic, political and social life.

For a visual diagram of our process, please see our GSTEP Departments chart.

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Our beliefs

  • Electronics, whether functioning or not, are valuable resources.
    • When functioning, we can use them to empower people and uplift the community.
    • When non-functioning, they provide spare parts to repair other electronics, or they are raw materials we can use to build new electronics.
    • When the community treats these resources as “eWaste,” it are dismisses their importance to community building.
  • Replacing discarded electronics with new equipment requires tons of raw materials and a great deal of energy.
  • Manufacturing and discarding electronics uses and releases toxic pollutants (including carcinogens) into our land, water, food and bodies.
  • Reuse is the best way to recycle:
    1. Reduce our materials consumption wherever possible
    2. Reuse what we are already using
    3. Repair what breaks during use
    4. Repurpose what we cannot repair
    5. Recycle what we cannot repurpose
  • Everyone deserves equal access to information technology resources!
    • Many individuals, families and organizations lack reliable access to computers and the Internet.
    • This creates a digital divide between the haves and have-nots.

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Our Results

  1. GSTEP helps the environment and our local economy by turning eWaste problems into opportunities for Greater Salem. We receive donations of computer and related hardware that are thought to be “obsolete.” An organization or group that helps us acquire hardware donations is a Donation Partner.
  2. We assess incoming computers and replace or upgrade parts whenever we can. We bring life to old computers by upgrading their software to a faster system that is easier for users to work with. We are a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, and we offer valuable training to people who help us prepare electronics for distribution or recycling.
  3. Sometimes electronics are truly at their end of life. In these cases, we recycle the raw materials locally and ethically to protect and support our environment. We partner with local and certified Pacific Northwest or West Coast materials vendors.
  4. Refurbished electronics go back out to the local community in two ways:
    1. We donate hardware to people in need through our Technology Grants, and any group or organization can apply for a grant. An organization or group that helps us distribute hardware to people in need is a Placement Partner. Individuals and families may receive a Technology Grant through our Placement Partners.
    2. We also sell some of the working electronics we receive at very low prices through the GSTEP Store<link>.
  5. GSTEP’s work is more than giving away free hardware. We provide basic training to help recipients of our Technology Grants use their new equipment in a safe, effective and responsible manner. An organization or group that helps with the training is a Literacy Education Training Partner.

Read our testimonials.

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