VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould, Jon Bon Jovi, and HUD Deputy Secretary Maurice Jones announce finalists in the “REACH Challenge"
On June 6, 2012, in Washington, DC, the VA, HUD, HHS and Jon Bon Jovi, who chairs the JBJ Soul Foundation, announced the finalists of their Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless Challenge) Developer Challenge. Contestants were challenged to create an application to provide real-time information and streamline the connection among service providers aiding homeless individuals.
Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless) finalists are:
Robert Damashek and Corey Brown, Binary Group, Arlington, VA
John McCarthy, Forest Hills, N.Y.
Jessi Schoenleber and Joe Nicosia, JJAppCo, LLC, Manchester, NJ
We all use smartphones, tablets, or laptops to check the score of a game or to text our friends. These bright minds will develop a tool that can actually connect homeless veterans with the help they need to move beyond a life on the streets.
The five finalists each receive a $10,000 cash prize and will now pilot their mobile applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen in Monmouth County – a community kitchen where diners cover the cost of their meals either through donation or volunteer service.
These easy-to-use mobile/web applications have been judged on their ability to update information about housing and shelter near JBJ Soul Kitchen. Additionally, finalists have been able to display information about local VA services, employment support, crisis hotlines and local legal assistance resources.
Ultimately, the $25,000 prize will be awarded to the developer whose app is determined to be scalable on a national level and enables health clinics, food kitchens, housing services and shelters to update the availability of key services automatically online. The winning app will collect, map, and electronically distribute that information for communities across the nation.
Bon Jovi said:
The genesis of this Challenge occurred at the Soul Kitchen last winter when we saw the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that would allow us to direct our diners to other resources in the community. We found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Collectively, these organizations represent a cumulative wealth of information and now these five finalists have suggested platforms that could tie it all together in real time.
The announcement took place at the Health Data Initiative Forum in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS).