“One of the Greatest Feelings in the World”

AT&T Blog Team
March 27, 2024
Community Impact

“One of the Greatest Feelings in the World”

The purpose of our work at AT&T – connecting people to greater possibility – can manifest itself when a customer uses our fiber internet connections to apply for an incredible new job, or when they place a call over our wireless network and hear the reassuring voice of a far-away family member. But sometimes the most profound possibilities are made real thanks to simple old-fashioned collaboration with trusted people in our communities. 

Ken Kovatch is one of those people. He and his father lead the nonprofit RET3 Job Corp in Cleveland, Ohio, and have collaborated with AT&T for the past 2 years to provide refurbished computers to Clevelanders who didn’t have computers at home, helping close the digital divide. 

We spoke with Ken about his work with our local AT&T team, to bring more than 400 computers (and counting!) to Cleveland families who need them. 


Q: What is RET3 Job Corp? 

A: We are a 501 C-3 nonprofit that provides a processing center for electronic waste with a ‘no-landfill’ guarantee.  We work with our local solid waste authority and local businesses to reuse, refurbish, and recycle their computer-related electronic equipment. 

Q: How long has RET3 been in operation? 

A: We just marked 20 years in business in 2023, so we’re very proud to have been doing this work in our community for so long. 

Q: Has your work to make computer devices available to people who need them changed significantly over those years? 

A: RET3 started in a 2,000 square-foot building, but today our operation occupies 65,000 square feet in our current location. Technology has made the process of refurbishing simpler and more efficient. We are also RIOS-certified (the Recycling Industry Operating Standard) and R2-certified (the leading standard for electronics repair and recycling). We are rigorously audited for quality, safety, and transparency.   

Q: Why do you devote so much effort to getting refurbished computers to people who need them? 

A: The fact that we can refurbish computers and re-use them is great for the environment and is a great personal help for families who may find it difficult to make the financial investment in these devices. 

Q: Which part of your work is most rewarding? 

A: Giving back through community programs and making online connections possible for those most in need. Our most rewarding program recently has been our collaboration with AT&T to provide refurbished devices to local families who were also learning about the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). That benefit made their home internet service more affordable, and our refurbished laptops meant the internet service could be put to great use right away in those households. 

Q: You always make time to personally come out to device distribution events where laptops are being provided to people who need them. Why is that important to you? 

A: To provide a person with a computer when they didn’t have one is one of the greatest feelings in the world. When you see how pleased they are to be able to be so productive, connecting online in their own home, you know you’re really helping people. 

Q: What makes your collaboration with AT&T work so well? 

A: We provide the hardware and AT&T provides the internet; it’s a win-win for our community. Sustainability is important. We take a computer that corporate America no longer needs and refurbish it with some of the newest software. Then it gets placed back into the community and an individual or a family can enjoy the connections it provides for many years. 

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