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Moritz Tetzlaff: The digital equal opportunities champion

© Moritz Tetzlaff

27. May 2021

With lessons via videoconference and homework handed in online, the coronavirus crisis digitalised learning for millions of students virtually overnight – under very unequal conditions. Not all children and young people even have a computer at home, let alone one of their own. And it was this that Moritz Tetzlaff (pictured left), project manager of a co-working space in Braunschweig, set out to change. In the first lockdown he teamed up with ad man Martin Bretschneider to create HEY, ALTER! This voluntary initiative collects and repairs old computers and distributes them to students. Following on from its beginnings in Braunschweig, the service is now also available in Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Magdeburg, Mindelheim and other cities.

Name: Moritz Tetzlaff

Age: 38

Occupation: Creative networker

Website: www.heyalter.com

What is HEY, ALTER!?

HEY, ALTER! brings things together that belong together. We collect old computers from companies, institutions and private households, fix them up and distribute them to students for whom participation in e-learning or home schooling has been either non-existent or very limited. This is helping to improve equality of opportunity for children and young people. So this is the idea behind HEY, ALTER!: old computers for young people. Simple as that.

How did the idea come about?

My wife is a teacher and has had students who could only ever write on their phones because there were no computers at home. That's when I first became aware of the problem. So I decided to get computers for them, and this was how the idea for the project came about. At the New Year reception run by “Magni & Friends” I finally met Martin Bretschneider, founder of the Gingco advertising agency, and was able to get him excited about the project.

The world needs HEY ALTER! because...

... HEY, ALTER! is a nice and simple solution to the equal opportunities problem.

How do you find out where the students are who need a computer?

That isn’t a job for HEY, ALTER! at all. The schools contact us and tell us what they have found out they need. There’s no bureaucracy involved.

How has HEY, ALTER! developed since its launch a year ago?

We’ve grown, not only in Braunschweig, but throughout Germany. We now have about 30 offices.

And the biggest challenge was...

... to collect the computers. Unfortunately, the HEY, ALTER! initiative isn’t yet known to every company.

"The teachers keep giving us the feedback that our initiative mustn’t stop after the pandemic. There is simply too much very obvious social inequality."

Moritz Tetzlaff, Co-founder of HEY, ALTER!

What's next for HEY, ALTER!?

The teachers keep giving us the feedback that our initiative mustn’t stop after the pandemic. There is simply too much very obvious social inequality. And digitalisation isn’t slowing down either. That's why our motto is “Hey, now we’re really needed!”

How can you volunteer or start a local group yourself?

There’s no bureaucracy involved. People who are interested contact us and get support at every level (website, handout, logo, mail address, etc.).

Which digital product has yet to be invented?

We don’t need new products but new applications - for instance in administration.

Would you like a household robot?

Yes.

Which technical application will always remain a mystery for you?

The vacuum cleaner.

When were you last offline for 24 hours?

Maybe 2008.

A holiday without Wi-Fi: Is that a dream or a nightmare?

For me, that would be a nightmare. For my wife it would be a dream!

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