Giving students that extra boost for success

Local works to improve access to technology for kids

WHAT SEEMED LIKE an unfortunate event in the life of Rema Tavares would actually be an opportunity for her to find her life’s calling.

In 2007, Tavares’s graduate program in neurolinguistics was cancelled, and she felt lost and uncertain about her future.

“The one thing I knew,” she says, “was that I wanted to work in the not-for-profit sector.”

After calling her cousin Lara Tavares, who is the founder of Sky’s the Limit, she packed up her belongings and moved from a small town outside of Ottawa to Toronto. She became the project co-ordinator for the group, which raises funds to buy refurbished computers for under-resourced youth.

“There’s a term that comes around these days called ‘digital divide.’ It refers to the polarization of society into two groups: those with access to technology and those without,” says Tavares, 26. The mission of Sky’s the Limit is to help eliminate that divide and provide young people with the computers they need.

“Most of these kids cannot even afford the Internet, let alone a computer,” Tavares says. “This is a huge challenge as most schools assume kids have computers at home and ask they do homework and research on their home computers.”

“ My favourite part is definitely seeing how excited they are when they get the computers.”

Sky’s the Limit purchases refurbished computers from IBM and distributes them through their partner organizations. While these computers are considerably more affordable, choosing refurbished computers also has positive environmental impacts: reducing the carbon footprint by avoiding the amount of fossil fuels necessary to manufacture new computers as well as diverting used computers from landfills.

While it’s important to Tavares to be a “green” organization, it’s Sky’s the Limit’s impact on youth that moves her:

“My favourite part is definitely seeing how excited they are when they get the computers,” she says. “Most of them have never received an expensive and big gift before.”

Outside of her time with the organization, Tavares plays soccer, paints and reads in her York Mills home. She spends a lot oftimewithherfamily,whoareall involved in Sky’s the Limit.

Tavares is isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“We have already delivered our 1,000th computer and are working toward 2,000 sometime this year,” she says.

Post City Magazines salutes Rema Tavares and Sky’s the Limit for helping students gain access to the resources they need for success.

Article exclusive to TRNTO