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Donate Your Device, Not Your Data

Laura Mercure

Security concerns are a real issue, getting more pressing every day. When donating a device, how can one ensure that their data is destroyed, and that they won’t be put at risk from their good deed? I sat down with Dean Hendricks to discuss the security measures that the Hendricks Foundation has in place to ensure donated devices get a clean slate before they are passed on to students in need. The process of erasing cellphones, tablets and computers are different.

Cell phone resets take as little as 15 minutes and are done with a factory reset. Factory resets, “wipe out any settings and data from the device,” according to Hendricks. Tablet computers and personal computers require more effort and can take up to two hours to complete. The computer’s hard drives are removed (when possible). The device’s hard drive is wiped and encrypted. The data is encrypted as an additional safety measure. In case someone does recover any data from the hard drive, encrypting it ensures it is not accessible. Finally, the hard drive is wiped again. This second wipe is done out of an abundance of caution.

This process meets the National Institute of Standards for Technology (NIST) guidelines, and donators receive a Certificate of Erasure once the process is complete. Since 2022, Dean has personally overseen the destruction of each device entrusted to the Hendricks Foundation. In that time, over 60 donated devices have been wiped and passed on to individuals in the community and beyond.

This is a passion project for Hendricks who grew up in the chasm of the digital divide. According to him, “I didn’t grow up with computers like that. I didn’t have the ability to just buy a computer. The first computer I had was one I had to repair myself. Rather than put students through the same struggle I went through and because I care so much about what we do with our e-waste, it seemed like a no-brainer to me to turn used computers into a solution.”

Please consider donating your outdated and broken devices to the Hendricks Foundation. Your donation not only helps keep one more device out of a landfill, it also gives a child a new opportunity to learn and shrinks the digital divide two hands at a time.


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