Project Description

The E-Waste Team

People Served Directly
People Served Indirectly
Name: Ryan Shook
College Affiliation: Kresge College
Major: GISES
Graduation Date: Spring 2016

Project Date: Summer 2015

Partner Org: Gilroy Compassion Center
Partner Website:

Technologies Used: Computer Hardware
Project Themes: Electronics Recycling, Homelessness
People Served Directly: Project coordinator
Community Served Indirectly: Customers of the E-Waste center

Project Description

Gilroy, California, has a homeless population rate of .14%, which is slightly higher than the .12% national average.1 The Gilroy Compassion Center (GCC), a day use homeless facility within the city, opened its doors about two years ago, and now provides critical services to the homeless. These services had only previously been offered in the north end of the county. There are multiple reasons for homelessness, but the loss of a job is the most predominant.2 The homeless population struggles to find employment due in part to a lack of job training and employment history gaps.3 Therefore, providing a transitional job training program will help the GCC clients become more employable and hopefully help transition out of homelessness.4

As a non-profit organization, funding is difficult to acquire and one solution the GCC pursued was to obtain an electronic waste (e-waste) collector’s license in the hopes of raising funds through recycling e-waste. However, the program has not had sufficient staffing to reach its full potential. GCC’s e-waste program will not only help to keep end-of-life electronics out of the landfills but it also has the potential to provide a source of revenue for the center. The union of the e-waste and job training program into The E-Waste Team (TEWT) is a creative way to begin to provide an avenue to job market re-integration for the clients and generate revenue for the center.

This project was implemented over a six month period, March to August of 2015. I started by developing a relationship with the organization, and my own personal knowledge of the laws and regulations of proper collecting, handling, packaging, shipping, documenting, and marketing of e-waste collection. Having this foundation of knowledge, I was then able to devise day-to-day operations, which included establishing a digital inventory tracking system. Initially, two GCC clients were to be selected to start the job training program. However, one client entered the program. Through this program, the client built relevant job skills, including basic computer usage, while learning the details of the e-waste program. He eventually acquired a full- time job, and is receiving continued follow-up support. I held one heavily marketed e-waste collection and rummage sale event and established a computer kiosk in the center’s day room for all clients to utilize. I spent a total of 172 hours at the center, with a portion of that time doing information technology (IT) support and conducting intake interviews for new clients.