The Great America Leasing Corporation is giving back to the community by using its outdated computers to set up an educational computer center for children.
The Inner City 100
The GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. (#27) supplies office equipment, and CEO Tony Golobic insists that his equipment stay au courant. That means that computers with just a touch of gray at the temples are regularly dumped. But starting at the beginning of next year, GreatAmerica's outmoded machines will be dumped into the digital divide.
Golobic, an immigrant from Slovenia whose first job in this country was as a janitor, is searching for a storefront in his Cedar Rapids, Iowa, neighborhood that will become what he calls a "cybercafé" for high school kids. Café is a tad misleading; Golobic isn't planning to ply kids with $4 espressos. What he will provide is computers -- as many as 100 of them, updated every 18 months or so -- and instructors in everything from Internet navigation to programming. A bus rented by GreatAmerica will make daily trips between the center and two nearby high schools.
"It's aimed at kids that have a tough time getting ahold of computers because of their economic backgrounds," says Golobic, who expects the center to cost his company from $25,000 to $50,000 a year. "These are not kids who have computers in their homes, and the ones in the schools are old and there aren't enough of them." Golobic hopes to coordinate the program with the YMCA that is under construction a few blocks from his company's headquarters. "That way if kids don't want to work on computers all afternoon, they can go over there and swim and exercise," he says.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan