The Toronto-Dominion Bank has pulled the plug on an award-winning program that saw its old computers refurbished and then sold, with proceeds going to more than 30 Canadian charities.
“One of my guys who arranges the pick-ups was told that’s it been suspended,” says Steve Glover, senior VP of Compugen Finance. That happened this summer.
“For months, they wouldn’t return calls,” Glover adds. “We had no idea what was happening.”
TD provided few details about its decision to abandon Green4Good, a program that won a Sustainability Award from the Toronto Region Board of Trade and was recognized by Clean50 for its contributions to clean capitalism.
“We regularly review contracts with vendors and have made the decision to not renew the relationship,” a TD spokesperson told the Toronto Star. “Though we will be moving to a new provider, our commitment to our communities is strong and it is our intention to continue supporting these charities directly.”
Launched in 2010, Compugen Inc.’s Green4Good program has seen more than 600,000 pieces of used tech equipment refurbished at the company’s Richmond Hill headquarters — equipment that had previously been collecting dust in warehouses. While other companies, such as the Hydro One and the Bank of Montreal, have donated equipment to the program, TD was by far the biggest donor.
Green4Good has raised more than $1.2 million for charities to date, roughly a quarter of which came from the sale of TD equipment. Charities can also opt to receive refurbished computers and IT support.
“No one was expecting to get any money from this product,” Green4Good’s director, Steve Byrne, says of the old tech equipment.
“It’s found money,” he adds. “And another big winner is the environment, which typically would be burdened with all this excess inventory. It would typically end up in landfills.”
Since TD stopped shipments of old tech equipment, the program has become a skeleton of what it once was.
“I’m still baffled that it’s been dropped,” Glover says. “If they continue to support the charities, I’m ecstatic — that’s really what it’s all about.”
After months of silence, the recipient charities the Star spoke to only heard from TD on Wednesday — the day the bank provided the above statement to the Star.
“Compugen was able to breathe life into technology and give it more life for so many other organizations,” says Massey Centre CEO Ekua Asabea Blair. The centre, which supports pregnant teens, was one of the program’s biggest recipients.
“I’m not sure TD really understands the impact.”
“TD has been such an integral part of the program — really, they were our flagship sponsor for the longest time,” Byrne says. “I hope it doesn’t affect the charities the way I fear it could.”
How charities plan to cope with TD’s departure from Green4Good:
For nearly five years, these three charities have been the largest beneficiaries of the Green4Good program. We spoke with each about how Green4Good program helped.
The Massey Centre helps pregnant teens and adolescent mothers learn how to care for their children while continuing their education and searching for work.
“We have been using laptops that we get from Green4Good through the TD donation to encourage young moms to stay in school and finish their high school education,” says the centre’s CEO, Ekua Asabea Blair. “You can’t put a price on that.”
The Massey Centre has received dozens of computers for its staff and clients as well as IT support and more than $150,000 through Green4Good.
“TD, I’m sure, is a great company,” Blair says. “And I’m not sure they understood the impact of the decision that they made.”
Homeward Bound offers four-year job readiness programs for single mothers that include college education, daycare and affordable housing. Most women in the program come from shelters.
“It’s almost impossible to complete your education if you don’t have access to a computer,” says Yordanka Petrova, the program’s manager.
Petrova says more than 100 laptops have been given to program participants over the past four years. A computer lab will have to take the place of personal laptops in the future, Petrova adds.
“I’m a little taken aback by the news.”
Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness:
Serving more than 200,000 people a year through 100 agencies, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness seeks to reduce abuse and its impact through education and public awareness.
Through Green4Good, the centre has been able to give dozens of refurbished computers to First Nations community centres, youth centres and women coming out of shelters.
“For us, this is major,” says the centre’s CEO and founder, Ellen Campbell. In addition to computers, she estimates that nearly a quarter of the centre’s funding came from Green4Good.
“The part that hurt us the most is there was no warning,” Campbell says. “Now we’ve got to find about $50,000 that we aren’t going be getting this year.”