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Vacca, Per Scholas offer $300 laptops to students

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In a burst of creativity, Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Bronx-based technology company Per Scholas have teamed up to offer over 1,000 refurbished laptop computers to Bronx middle and high-school students – for only $300 a piece.

The Dell and Compaq computers, available on a first come, first serve basis, were donated by the Federal Reserve Bank and the Internal Revenue Service, are reconditioned by Per Scholas, offering a “Smart Start to the New Year.”

The laptops feature Pentium IV processors, full Internet capability, and free Channel 13/WNET educational software. They also come with a free 30-day limited warranty and free lifetime access to a bilingual, toll-free help desk.

“I am so proud to stand with Per Scholas to announce this unprecedented opportunity for students in the Bronx,” said Vacca, who has also partnered with Per Scholas to bring technology to senior centers.

“As parents across the Bronx know, the days of lined paper and protractors are gone – fast, modern computers are a prerequisite to a solid education, and this offer gives Bronx families a leg up as they try to provide their children with the tools they need to succeeded.

Vacca toured Per Scholas’ Bronx River Avenue factory outlet location, at 1575 Bronx River Avenue just off the Cross Bronx Expressway, on Wednesday, September 3, after announcing the inception of the program.

On hand was the staff of the non-profit Per Scholas, a premier non-profit organization in the Bronx dedicated to bridging the digital divide across all generations in the borough.

“In this fast paced global economy, technical skills are a requirement for any employment opportunity,” said Plinio Ayala, Per Scholas President and CEO. “At Per Scholas, we recognize that connecting students to technology is crucial in promoting success within the educational arena and beyond. It is our mission to provide the community with an affordable computer solution to meet the needs to students.

Ayala said that the program focuses on giving away laptops to provide greater mobility to the young middle and high school students who will use them, but that the group also has a smaller number of refurbished desktop computers, unrelated to the program, starting at $150.

Any family interested in ordering a discounted laptop should call Per Scholas at (718) 991-8400 or visit the factory outlet. Representatives are available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Our main goal is to bridge the ‘digital divide’ in the Bronx,” Ayala said, pointing out that individuals with lesser socio-economic status often have trouble accessing computers.

“For our young people, who are about to enter the workforce, it gives us the opportunity to hand over the reins to a technologically prepared population.”

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