Putting XO Laptops Under Christmas Trees—and into Classrooms—via Amazon

As the holidays approach, the Cambridge, MA-based One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC) has revived its Give One, Get One program, designed to encourage consumers in industrialized nations to buy the foundation’s XO laptops for schoolchildren in the developing world while also securing one for a child in their own family. The foundation, which is relying on Seattle-based Amazon to distribute the laptops this year, has also introduced “Give 100” and “Give 1000” programs that, for the first time, enable major donors to specify where they want laptops to be distributed—and it has commissioned a series of slick video advertisements to promote the giving programs.

Under the Give One, Get One (G1G1) program, consumers can buy two laptops for $399. One will be shipped to a school of OLPC’s choice, and the other to any recipient of the buyer’s choice. Part of the purchase price is tax-deductible—though OLPC says buyers should consult their accountants to figure out how much.

The Give 100 and Give 1000 programs are a bit different. By giving 100 or more laptops for $219 apiece, donors can direct which schools within OLPC’s partner countries or any of the world’s 50 least developed countries should receive the machines. By paying $259 per laptop, donors can have the machines sent anywhere in the world. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced in November that he is donating 1,500 XO laptops through the program for children in Uganda.

In an effort to grasp potential donors’ heartstrings, OLPC recently unveiled a series of video ads promoting the Give One, Get One program. One features an adorable African kid named Zimi who says: “I come from a place you’ve never heard of, a country that you can not pronounce, a continent you would rather forget. Our only problem is access to education, with education we will solve our own problems. To the person who gave me this XO laptop; thank you. You have changed my world.”

Another ad is slightly more controversial. As the alphabet song plays on a toy piano in the background, the video shows young children who have been recruited to labor as weavers, shoeshines, miners, sex workers, and maching-gun-toting soldiers. “Children are fast learners,” the ad says, as it closes on a scene of children using XO laptops in a sunlit classroom. “Let’s give them the right tools.” (We’ve embedded the ad below.)

To make sure that the second go-around of the Give One, Get One program goes more smoothly than the 2007-2008 version, when many orders were lost and some laptops were not delivered to purchasers until months after the holidays, OLPC recruited Amazon to handle online sales and fulfillment. Amazon’s G1G1 page says laptops are in stock and can be delivered by Christas Eve as long as they’re by Monday, December 22.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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One response to “Putting XO Laptops Under Christmas Trees—and into Classrooms—via Amazon”

  1. Try us on your OLPC, let me know if you love it.

    Teaches the beginning of reading starting out at three and older. Montessori based.