Toronto agent launching nonprofit to target tech inequities

Ara Mamourian, a managing partner with The Spring Team at RE/MAX Hallmark Brokerage, is working to launch a non-profit that provides technology, like laptops, to Canadians in need.

A Toronto real estate agent is taking his passion for bridging the digital divide to the next level. 

Ara Mamourian, a managing partner with The Spring Team at RE/MAX Hallmark Brokerage, is working to imminently launch a non-profit that provides technology to Canadians in need, inspired by his work to connect students with laptops during the pandemic. 

Ara Mamourian

“What this triggered is this lifelong passion of mine to be able to help people outside of real estate transactions,” he said. 

Mamourian’s pandemic project started in 2020 when he learned from a friend involved with the school board at Toronto’s Nelson Mandela School that there were dozens of technology requests from students — meaning they didn’t have the proper technology to participate in remote schooling. 

“I thought that was absolutely insane,” he told Inman in a phone interview. “I believe that access to the internet is just as essential as housing is. The entire world is passing you by right now if you don’t have access to technology.” 

Mamourian started out on his own purchasing used laptops off local Facebook pages with his own money, before making contact with a supplier of refurbished Google Chromebooks. 

The agent says he’s been able to supply approximately 10 laptops a month since the dawn of the pandemic, completely self funded. 

Earlier this week, with Toronto schools switching to remote learning due to COVID cases spiking,  he learned there were still 60 students in need of laptops at the Nelson Mandela School, and heard from a friend involved with another school that had more than 200 technology requests. He decided he couldn’t meet the need alone and put out a fundraising request for $6,000 on social media

Within two minutes, Toronto broker Ken McLachlan offered to send him the full $6,000. 

“I thought okay well, it’s not even 7 a.m. and we already got six grand, how much more can I get,” he said. 

He put out another request for donations on Instagram, and donations began rolling in almost immediately. Within one day he had raised over $26,000, with donations ranging from as small as $100 to several thousand Canadian dollars. 

“These people are all sending me money, there’s no way I can issue any sort of donation receipt, there’s no taxable benefit to these people other than just doing a good thing,” Mamourian said. 

With the money raised this week Mamourian will be able to fulfill all 260 device orders by the end of next week, and he’s launching a yet-to-be-named non-profit in partnership with multinational Canadian corporations.

Mamourian see’s the non-profit as going beyond just supplying technology, but also providing education and mentorships to those in need. 

“This is going to be something massive,” he said. “Honestly, I can’t even think about real estate right now.” 

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