December 20, 2011
The Apps for Communities Challenge announced the winners of $100,000 in prizes to developers who created community-focused apps. A partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Federal Communications Commission, the national contest attracted 368 apps submissions. The winners – many of them with very interesting backgrounds – created straightforward, useful apps that are really very clever in their simplicity.
Top prize went to Yak.bus, which was developed by San Francisco-based Ryan Resella. Ryan is a 2011 Code for America Fellow. The focus of his app is not a surprise, since we used to work for the City of Santa Clarita, where he developed local government web apps.
Yakb.us is a real-time bus notification system (available in English and Spanish) that uses voice and SMS. It’s currently available in Arlington County, Virginia, Charlottesville, VA and Santa Clarita, CA.
Homeless-SCC, a web-based app that connects the homeless with services that match their needs and eligibility, took 2nd prize. It was created by Curtis Chang of Consulting Within Reach and funded by a local church that serves the homeless.
Curtis has a non profit-focused background. He was the Executive Director of SixSeeds, a foundation that empowers family-based service and giving; the Executive Pastor of The River Church Community in San Jose, a congregation of Silicon Valley professionals which has also spun off several nonprofit social service agencies; and Head Teaching Fellow in the Harvard Government Department.
Third prize was awarded to San Francisco-based txt2wrk, the creation of Dave Chiu, an interaction and service designer and visiting scholar at the Mobile Experience Lab at MIT; Roger Ly, an app developer; Lawson Kight, a motions graphic designer; and Elise Ackerman, a technical writer.
Txt2wrk helps parolees, homeless, and other disadvantaged job seekers compete on a more level playing field by providing text-to-speech delivery of job postings on any mobile phone.
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