Apple finds a use for some of those first-generation iPads

September 20, 2011: 2:22 PM ET

Donates thousands to teachers in America's poorest schools

Source: Apple Inc.

Teach for America might sound like a fun way to spend a couple years after college, but it's a pretty tough gig. With just five-weeks training, recent graduates -- many from America's most elite colleges and universities -- are thrown into classrooms in some of the country's meanest, most-impoverished public schools.

Into this improbable mix Apple (AAPL) has just added a few thousand iPads.

It's part of a public service program Apple initiated last spring with the launch of the iPad 2. Owners of first-generation iPads who had no use for them were invited to donate the devices to teachers in low-income communities.

It's not clear how many units Apple collected, but in August every Teach for America corps member -- more than 9,000 in 38 states -- was offered a free iPad 1.

"What could an iPad do for your classroom and your students?" the e-mail notice read. "Well, we're asking you to help us answer this question."

Registration ended Aug. 31, and the iPads were distributed over the past two weekends.

Katie Remington (Middlebury '10) picked up hers -- a refurbished model that looked like new -- on Sunday and brought it to the inner-city high school in St. Louis where she runs the science department. "So far," she wrote after the first day, "I've figured out it can make them finish their work fast for 'iPad time.'"

To make better use of the device, teachers would probably need more than one iPad per classroom. But it's a start.

Teach for America has a connection with Apple through Steve Jobs' family. His wife, Laurene Powell, sits on its board of directors.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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