For over 25 years, the Robin Hood Foundation has sought ways to alleviate poverty in New York City to great effect. They’ve raised nearly $2 billion dollars since 1988, and, with a board of directors that personally funds the entire organization, 100% of donations go straight to the programs that feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and provide educational and occupational opportunities for upward economic mobility.
An exciting piece of news from the Robin Hood Foundation this month is the incorporation of Blue Ridge Labs, a group within the Blue Ridge Foundation that supports tech-based programs whose purpose is to use technology to serve underprivileged communities. In addition to funding these programs, the Blue Ridge Foundation has also provided workspace and mentorship to entrepreneurs and start-ups. Along with the Robin Hood Foundation, they hope to use technology to help New Yorkers break from a repressive cycle of poverty and gain access to opportunity in new ways.
By joining forces, Blue Ridge Labs will have the ability to interface with the very populations they are hoping to assist through Robin Hood. According to Hannah Calhoon, director of Blue Ridge Labs and former member of the Boston Consulting Group’s Development team, “We believe that this user-centric approach leads not only to products that are more likely to be adopted by their target audience, but also more likely to be effective in addressing the challenges these communities face.”
If last year’s fellowship program was any indicator, their continued partnership should experience continued success. Over 350 applicants who had previously worked at some of the most notable companies in the tech world like LinkedIn and Adobe applied for 18 positions. The products that were developed served a wide range of those in need, from the elderly to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. As it currently stands, one team is in the process of acquiring seed funding and another has already been acquired.
The Robin Hood Foundation has been working to break the cycle of poverty for millions of New Yorkers for over twenty-five years. With this new partnership of Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood, they are utilizing the tools of the digital age to continue fighting poverty into the future.