One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Celebrating the Gene Roddenberry Centennial and Star Trek

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Today marks the 100th anniversary of Gene Roddenberry’s birth. As the creator of Star Trek, his humanistic values have had a great influence on many nonprofit, social enterprise, and other business professionals.

As one of those professionals who have been influenced by this work, I thought it might be a great opportunity to highlight some of the Star Trek-influenced posts (and other media) that have appeared on this blog over the years. Enjoy!

We’ll have another post (a very timely book review) uploaded next week, but until then, please leave comments below, visit our Facebook page, or email us directly.

And as always, live long and prosper.


Written by gordondym

August 19, 2021 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Commentary, Mobile, Reading

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App Camp for Girls: Follow Up

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(Special thanks to App Camp for Girls for the invitation)

When I wrote my initial post about App Camp for Girls, I was hoping to not just draw attention…but also drive attendance. When they invited me to attend their pitch event on July 28th at 8th Light, I was even more curious. After all, what did the end results for teaching girls how to code look like? Impressive, as the gallery at the end of this post shows.

But now, the fine details: three different teams of girls were selected to “pitch” to a panel of local judges which included:

All of the apps were quiz apps…but with a nice, fun approach. Teams were asked to provide background on the apps, as well as their marketing plan, how they would finance their apps, and identifying their target market for the app. (In short, App Camp for Girls helped these teams learn and practice skills for “real world” applications. Teams and their apps included

  • Ducks That Code, who created an app called Dino Survival, which helps people who find themselves trapped in Jurassic Park;
  • Blue Lemurs From France, who created a quiz that lets you determine your Spirit Animal (and which indicates that my personal spirit animal is a hippo); and
  • Lettuce4Pie who created an emergency preparedness app called Raining Duck-Tastrophe, which assesses a person’s ability to cope should there be a torrent of ducks raining from the sky.

Although it sounds like I’m making light of this, I would like to emphasize that App Camp for Girls’ mission is to engage middle school students in learning how to code. Having tested these apps myself (mobile devices were provided to the audience), I found them very well done, with a great attention to detail….and fun. Many industries are working towards gender diversity in the workplace and the Chicago tech scene is welcoming App Camp for Girls as a critical partner.

In short, I was glad to take part – even in a small way – in helping App Camp for Girls establish a presence in Chicago. They’re a great resource for the Chicago area, and hopefully, we’ll see them again next year.

Have any other suggestions for great tech resources? Know organizations that could use exposure? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below, reach out to me privately via e-mail, or join the conversation on our Facebook page.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

July 31, 2017 at 11:42 am

Meet Your Neighbor: ChariPick

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(Special thanks to Stephen Lee of Charipick for sharing his time and insights, and special thanks to Derek Serafin of Motion PR for the introduction)

Matching nonprofit supporters and potential donors/volunteers can be a challenge for any organization. For smaller and medium-sized nonprofits, it can be especially challenging given the size of the organization, challenges in allocating resources and staff, andother concerns. However, a Chicago-area startup named Charipick has risen to meet that challenge…and is the focus this month’sMeet Your Neighbor.

Charipick was started with great intentions: Stephen Lee wanted to focus on “giving back” to the community. With his professional background in hedge fund management, M & A strategic planning, and business development, Stephen wanted to find an appropriate nonprofit – preferably a smaller organization – that would allow him to make an impact by sharing his skills and talents. However, the search for an appropriate nonprofit was a great challenge which needed simplification. Engaging with nonprofit boards was also a challenge – although most recommendations came through word-of-mouth, the process was still needlessly complicated. But Stephen realized what was needed most: a discovery and donation tool that would lead users to curated and trusted non-profits. With their target market increasingly engaging via mobile devices, Stephen and Charipick rose to the challenge.

Charipick (a Chicago-area startup) provides a mobile app for both Android and iOS that allows users to engage in a habit of giving. Users are presented with three different nonprofits in a variety of areas, and have to select one profit for a donation. (Users are asked to donate $1 per day per nonprofit, and every single dollar is incremental for nonprofits). All of the charities featured on Charipick are selected and curated based on three key criteria:

  • Relevance – Charities (with IRS 501c3 status) are selected due to relevance and interest to Charipick’s target audience (25 – 35 year olds);
  • Size – Most charities featured in the app have a budget of less than $10 million (and that will decrease over time);
  • Financial Stability – Charipick selections have demonstrated some financial stability and transparency, and meet very stringent criteria.11009169_1578860249044455_4398678107613974202_n

One of the more interesting aspects about the app is that much of the way it was designed was based on research into human behavior. It turns out that, according to science, giving is much more pleasurable than receiving, sparking similar neural responses and feelings that mimic those around food and sex. Even with a minimal donation of $1/day, users are introduced to the idea that giving can be beneficial, and that feeling is continually reinforced. In fact, Charipick’s app also allows for greater personal engagement around nonprofits – users can research nonprofits of interest, learning more about their cases. If a Charipick user finds a nonprofit where they would like to volunteer, all they need to do is press a button and provide information – an e-mail is sent to the nonprofit, providing greater volunteer engagement and allowing nonprofits to build their resources with minimal effort.

In short, Charipick is providing a way for users to “graduate” from the app, moving into greater support of a nonprofit….but that’s not the only outcome Charipick seeks. As a startup, Charipick has actively built outcomes and impact into the way it interacts with nonprofits. For smaller to midsize nonprofits, registration is a relatively simple 15 second application. If the organization is relevant for Charipick users, it moves onto phase 2, focusing on thinking through how to quantify their impact, from “what does a dollar donation do?” to an overall perception of their mission. Even when individuals donate, Charipick has been proactive in providing documentation – users are provided a month-end e-mail report for tax purposes. Charipick has simplified the process for both nonprofit and supporter alike.

(For those concerned about financial control, Charipick has also built in some safeguards. Although they facilitate the donation process, Charipick transactions are handled through a third party credit card processor which transfers money directly to nonprofits. Charipick is also not a crowdfunding tool – while most crowdfunding tools encourage users to market the crowdfunding project, Charipick flips it around and markets itself as a way for users to find nonprofits.).

Chicago’s startup scene – and social entrepreneurship scene – can take pride in Charipick, which is a well-needed mobile app that connects supporters and nonprofits. Find out more about them via their web site, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Have any recommendations for great organizations to highlight? Any thoughts or comments?  Please leave them below or join us in conversation via Facebook. You can receive updates via e-mail (instructions below), or contact me personally via the About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Building Better Government One App At A Time

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One of the many ways in which tech can impact our communities is when citizens and software coders collaborate on apps that improve government effectiveness and/or allow greater access to public data. Recently, I received notice about a really  great opportunity for people to get engaged.

Code For America is a relatively new non-profit with a radical idea – that regular citizens, web coders, and others can collaborate on projects that make government more efficient, transparent, and which really create a more engaged citizenry. With an upcoming election, no matter what your political shading, this is a great opportunity to serve your community, and work on projects that could improve state and city government.

Their current initiative, the Race for Reuse, is focusing primarily on deploying (or redeploying) particular apps in a particular community.  Admittedly, I haven’t been as aware of Code for America’s efforts as I would like (short answer – family health issues have prevented me), but quite honestly, this sounds like a great opportunity, and one which I think many readers might find exciting.

This is also one of the great ways in which we can use technology to improve our neighborhoods – for many of us, knowing how to get involved without necessarily doing the “usual” activities can be a challenge. It’s also an opportunity for becoming more familiar with tech and web-based tools, especially for those who may not consider themselves “hackers”.

In short, this is a really great initiative, and which really deserves greater support and awareness.

Have questions or comments? Please leave them down below, and you’re more than welcome to reach out to me via Linked In (just mention Chicago Now) and my web site.

As always, thanks for reading!

Making At-Risk Motherhood Easier Via Mobile

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A colleague once asked me why I attended corporate networking events rather than just stick with networking in the non-profit/social good field. From my perspective, “social good” is an all-encompassing idea, and I believe that any opportunity to engage the larger community can result in learning about something wonderful.

I was fortunate enough to volunteer at last week’s MobiU2012 conference, which was organized by Heartland Mobile Council. One of the afternoon presentations I attended was by Corey Bieber of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinois, who spoke openly about a mobile application they created for expectant mothers.

Arising from the realization that taking a preventative approach for their members’ health can have a positive impact on their bottom line (and help build trust), Blue Cross/Blue Shield looked at a variety of information about who an app could help. Expectant, potential ask-risk mothers were chosen because they not only had a definite start and end point, but also had a finite period in which they were dealing with their health concerns. A smartphone app was developed in order to assist and connect mothers with specific information and guidance provided via Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

There were several insights presented, and the presentation will be posted at the Heartland Mobile site. What follows are a series of bullet points taken from the #MobiU2012 Twitter hashtag:

Now you’re probably wondering….how does this impact the social good? Simply put: although it’s easy to focus on non-profits and more community-based organizations as ideal audiences for promoting the social good, “community” includes everyone….and the private sector can provide some really good examples of how socially beneficial thinking can benefit both the greater community and the bottom line.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions down below – in addition, you’re more than welcome to connect with me via Linked In (just mention Chicago Now in your referral note), or drop me a line via my web site. As always, thanks for reading!