In 2015, one million people sought refuge in Germany, fleeing war and persecution in their home countries. Now, these refugees face new challenges: learning a new language, settling into new communities, resuming education and finding work. While some refugees have mobile phones that can help find vital resources and information, they often need a computer to support learning a new language, applying for jobs or education services, or completing resettlement assistance forms.
Refugees use Google Chromebooks to learn German, receive vocational training and find work.
With the support of Google.org, NetHope launched Project Reconnect, an initiative providing 25,000 managed Chromebooks to nonprofit organizations supporting refugees in Germany. Managed Chromebooks are web-based laptops that can be centrally administered by the nonprofit staff.
Project Reconnect aims to help refugees by facilitating access to education and information resources on the web. The application process was open to any government-approved nonprofit organization providing assistance for refugees in Germany. Organizations selected have received an initial Chromebook grant. After rolling these out in various usage scenarios, these organizations can request additional Chromebooks.
”As they make it through a dangerous journey, the first thing refugees need is to find shelter, food and access to care. But soon enough, they have to learn the local language, acquire skills to work in a new country, and figure out a way to continue their studies—all in an effort to reclaim and reconnect with the lives they had before.” –Google.org*
For organizations working with refugees in Germany, Project Reconnect provides a content discovery page with recommendations for online courses and educational sites; refugee portals; employment resources; and other relevant websites: Reconnect.nethope.org/resources. Content providers are invited to submit additional recommendations. Organizations can search with keywords or browse the recommendations by topic.
Volunteers at Google Germany have donated their time to design and code this functionality for the content discovery page and continue to support Project Reconnect with their technical expertise.
On June 8, 2016, Project Reconnect announced the first 24 organizations to receive Google Chromebooks. These nonprofits are now implementing the Chromebooks in public libraries, adult education centers, welcome centers and community centers throughout Germany.