HP distributed 2,250 new laptops to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people by 2030

Stories of Welcome

November 02, 2022


Welcome.US local partners distribute new laptops to newcomers in California’s Bay Area

Faced with the challenge of helping newcomers adapt to life in the United States, corporations and individuals often encounter a common dilemma: They want to help, but they’re not sure how best to do it.

With a goal of accelerating digital equity for 150 million people by 2030, HP helped advance its longstanding commitment to supporting newcomers and similar groups by joining the Welcome.US CEO Council in April 2022.

With its participation in the Welcome US Welcome Exchange, HP discovered an additional and powerful tool to help reach its ambitious goals. The Welcome Exchange is an easy-to-navigate online portal that matches businesses that are willing and able to provide support with the specific needs of newcomers as identified by not-for-profits and resettlement groups. Through this platform, HP connected with frontline organizations that had already stepped up to support Afghan newcomers. It agreed to donate 5,000 new chromebooks to be distributed by these partners, providing newcomers with greater independence and access to wider opportunities through digital connectivity.

Welcome.US local partners in the California Bay Area help distribute laptops.
HP has pledged to improve digital equity, in part by providing laptops to newcomers arriving in the U.S.

“HP is proud to work with Welcome.US to support refugees in their transition during this critical time,” says Michele Malejki, Global Head of Social Impact for HP. “For those who have been displaced from their homes, access to technology, connectivity, and skills-building can positively impact education, healthcare and economic opportunities.”

On the Welcome Exchange, HP connected with theAfghan-American Foundation (AAF), a national advocacy organization for Afghans and Afghan-Americans. Being deeply rooted in the resettlement journey of Afghan evacuees, AAF understood the importance of technology access in the lives of newcomers. The AAF had been seeking out technology partners, but hadn’t been able to find the right collaborators.

“It wasn’t until we dove head-first into the Welcome Exchange that we were able to clearly delineate the need and connect with generous partners like HP in the private sector to meet this need at scale,” says Joseph Azam, Board Chair of the Afghan-American Foundation.

The 5ive Pillars Organization, a Welcome.US partner, recognizing the needs for tech access and having put in a request on the Welcome Exchange platform, was the ideal partner to collaborate with to distribute the laptops to households. Founded in August 2021 in response to the fall of Kabul and subsequent evacuation, It has worked with national resettlement agencies and community-based organizations to serve nearly 800 Afghan newcomers in the Bay Area. Outside of Afghanistan, Hayward and Fremont, California, host the world’s largest Afghan populations. AAF and The 5ive Pillars Organization understood the importance of providing newcomers access to technology as it can be a lifeline during job search, educational pursuits, and resettling into their new communities; they teamed up to distribute 2,250 chromebooks. The other chromebooks were distributed to the YMCA of Greater Houston International Services, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, RISE: Refugee & Immigrant Self Empowerment, and the Afghan Youth Relief Foundation.

The community is already seeing the impact.

“These laptops help newcomers get ready to enter the workforce, stay connected to their community, and ultimately gain independence in their new homes.”
Zuhal Bahaduri, executive director and co-founder of The 5ive Pillars Organization

The Welcome Exchange has been a powerful tool for expanding the capacity of a resettlement system that was already stretched thin before taking on the monumental task of welcoming 80,000 Afghan newcomers in the span of mere months.

“The Welcome Exchange changes how resettlement organizations big and small are able to meet the initial needs of newcomers by making it possible for local organizations to connect with new partners nationwide,” says Serina Khan, Senior Project Manager at Welcome.US. Khan has led the Welcome Exchange since its launch in September of 2021.

These partnerships have lasting benefits beyond their immediate goals of sourcing and distributing goods and services.

“Doing this work collaboratively with our partners helps create a centralized system for the Bay Area refugee population to ensure we’re not duplicating efforts, so as many households as possible receive this type of support,” says Bahaduri.

Since the launch of the Welcome Exchange, more than 300 organizations have joined the platform. To date, $18 million of in-kind goods and services have been matched and distributed to resettlement organizations nationwide. Beyond technology donations, businesses are also meeting basic needs – CVS, for example, has provided over $300,000 of in-kind donations for diapers, baby bottles, and feminine hygiene products.

The Welcome Exchange has proven that collaboration by a diverse group of partners not only accelerates the country’s ability to meet the initial needs of newcomers, but also provides a durable solution for the logistical and budget constraints of local community organizations committed to welcoming newcomers.

“With collaboration between national organizations like ours, effective and credible local partners like 5ive Pillars, generous private sector partners like HP, and a connective force like Welcome.US, no challenge is too big,” Azam said.

Innovations like the Welcome Exchange, and support from the private sector in meeting the initial resettlement needs of newcomers through the Welcome.US CEO Council, are reshaping America’s approach to welcoming newcomers – with a whole-of-country response, making it possible for newcomers to find stability more quickly.

Photographs courtesy of Afghan-American Foundation (AAF) and The 5ive Pillars Organization

Be a Welcomer

Discover how rewarding it can be to welcome newcomers into your community.

By submitting your cell phone number you are agreeing to receive periodic text messages from this organization. Message and data rates may apply. Text HELP for more information. Text STOP to stop receiving messages.

Choose what best describes you and your interest: