“Back in 1991, Ben Gill was a sixth-grade student at Peres Elementary in Richmond’s Iron Triangle. On a regular basis, Chevron Richmond sent a bus to his school to transport Gill and his fellow classmates to a technology center to learn all about the burgeoning science.10.19fix

The effort was all part of Chevron Richmond’s Tutor Richmond Youth (TRY) program at the time, which exposed underserved Richmond youth to real world opportunities and experiences, as well as provided homework assistance. It was an experience that set flight to Gill’s future career.

Today, Gill is paying that opportunity forward as the lead teacher at De Anza High School’s Information Technology Academy (ITA), where he plays an integral role instructing 150 students in all things tech. Embedded as part of De Anza’s daily educational curriculum, the ITA is the second largest academy on campus.

Regarding his experience in the TRY program, Gill said “It definitely helped my career in technology; now it’s time for me to give back.”

On the ‘giving back’ notion, Gill is clearly a man of action. On Saturday, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he and his ITA students will be hosting a “Free Fix Day” during which the public can bring their dysfunctional laptops and desktops to the school’s gym for free repair.

According to Gill, some of the issues his students can help the public with include virus/spyware removal, data back-up, operating system installations, initial computer set-ups, basic computer troubleshooting and even hardware issues—if people bring in the required parts.

The ITA’s overall aim in holding the public Free Fix Day “is twofold,” said Gill. “It provides academy students with real world problem-solving opportunities and live work experience out of the labs, while on a community level, it’s a way to reach out to some of the neediest members of our community to make sure they have services and can get their machines looked at.”

At De Anza, Gill said that—even in this day and age—there are still a number of students who don’t have computers at home. “The digital divide in Richmond is real,” he said.

For those interested in attending the ITA’s event, De Anza High School is located at 5000 Valley View Road, El Sobrante. For more info, contact Technology Academy Lead Teacher Ben Gill at”

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