Google has announced a new philanthropic partnership with NetHope aiming to help Syrian refugees in Germany get reconnected by making 25,000 Chromebooks available to nonprofits. The goal — as described on the Project Reconnect home page — is “to help refugees as they strive to rebuild their lives, by facilitating access to education and information resources on the web.”

Individual nonprofits in Germany can apply for a grant up to 5,000 Chromebooks. These ‘managed Chromebooks’ can be centrally controlled by a nonprofit admin team, enabling them to be preconfigured and enabling the nonprofit to push out updates, tools and content remotely to all their Chromebooks. Google and NetHope envision the Chromebooks being used a number of ways, and not just limited to individual learning:

  • Set up a language learning center by running web-based language resources in full-screen mode.
  • Provide a self-service information kiosk by securing a Chromebook in an accessible location.
  • Organize children’s activities with appropriate educational games.
  • Enhance educational opportunities with the use of Chromebooks in classroom and training situations.
  • Create an Internet café-like environment to allow refugees to connect with friends and family and access assistance information.

Along with the announcement, NetHope has published an in-depth guide on the criteria involved in choosing which nonprofits are approved for the grant. Any government-recognized nonprofit in Germany can apply, and will be judged based on how stable their organization is and how many refugees they reach, as well as how strong their current refugee programs are. Nonprofits are also asked to demonstrate that they either already have internet access and a Wi-Fi router, or can arrange to get access. Chromebooks remain property of the nonprofits, as long as they offer them to refugees for use.

Nonprofits working with refugees in Germany need to express their interest in the project by February 8, 2016, and the first round of Chromebooks will start making their way to organizations from March 1. Second round applications need to be in by March 8, 2016.


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