Our Blog

Civil Justice For All

May 24, 2016    

In the 1963 landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, the Supreme Court ruled that anyone accused of a crime deserves the right to counsel – yet still no such right exists for civil cases. A civil case is any legal matter outside the realm of military, political or criminal law and encompasses everything from small claims, child custody, immigration, debt collection, and landlord/tenant issues – to name a few. READ POST

Why We’re Launching Catalyst

August 7, 2015     / / / / /

When we designed our fellowship back in the spring of 2014, we knew that it would only be the first step in a much longer journey for the teams who wanted to turn their ideas into sustainable, scalable ventures. Over the last few months, we’ve asked ourselves what we could do to better support promising teams – whether fellowship alumni or otherwise – in the later stages of their development. And because of our belief that great products (including programs) start from an understanding of what users need, we went out and asked a lot of other people too. After a couple dozen conversations with entrepreneurs, accelerators, foundations, and investors, here are three things we learned: 1) While timelines, staffing models, and funding… READ POST

Brainstorming Session with IDEO

July 23, 2015    

In June, IDEO and IDEO.org hosted the Blue Ridge Labs fellows for a brainstorm and ideation session. Below is a guest blog from Product Fellow Susie Kavanaugh on her experience during the session. After learning that Blue Ridge Labs would have a brainstorming session with IDEO, I pretty much had to pinch myself. Could this be true? I’ve followed their work and used their toolkits, so I was beyond excited for our session. In preparation for the meeting, each Blue Ridge Labs fellows team created three user profiles along with a “how might we…” statement. Shortly after arriving at IDEO’s office in NYC, we jumped into action. Teams were paired off, user profiles were shared, and “how might we” statements were discussed…. READ POST

Keeping Core Values First

July 21, 2015    

Often an organization’s core values are things that sound nice in practice, but are really hard to trace through to implementation. At Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood we strive to be different. Our values are at the fore of all our work and we remind ourselves, our fellows, and our network about what we stand for constantly. We seek to actively live out those things we think are fundamental to building new technology for those traditionally overlooked. It’s not always easy but it is important. Our values are: Courage – We jump into the unknown and the uncomfortable with transparency and honesty. For example, building technology that is based on the joys, frustrations, and articulated needs of people is challenging… READ POST

The Work Continues at Blue Ridge Labs

July 20, 2015    

We are incredibly excited to announce the re-launch of our blog! A lot has happened in the past year, from joining Robin Hood to re-launching our second summer fellowship. The fellowship is currently one month underway and we’re going to spotlight some of our past and current fellows, share some insights from the field, and keep you posted on the progress of the products. This year our fellows were selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants to trailblaze social innovation using technology and design. Throughout the summer, they are designing and building products collaboratively with underserved communities, focusing on possible tech interventions for individuals working in the informal economy, caregivers trying to maintain their children’s educational momentum through the… READ POST

Propel and Significance Labs on Bloomberg TV

September 30, 2014    

Propel and Significance Labs on Bloomberg TV Significance Labs co-founder Hannah Calhoon and Propel co-founder Jimmy Chen discuss how the companies came together to create products solving real-world problems. They speak with Pimm Fox on “Taking Stock.” (Source: Bloomberg) READ POST

Lessons in Community Engagement

August 18, 2014    

This summer, the Significance Labs fellows took on the challenge of designing products for low-income New Yorkers. To do this successfully, we knew we needed to engage in meaningful, in-depth conversations to get to know our audience. We also needed to establish a relationship of trust in order to get honest feedback throughout development. The depth of our community engagement drove the design of five incredible products, and positive feedback from participants and fellows alike. We’d like to share some valuable lessons we learned along the way: Convey a sense of legitimacy We needed to recruit participants, but as a new organization, we knew that gaining people’s trust could be difficult. Within each of our three recruitment strategies, we sought… READ POST

Significance Labs Fellowship Products

July 23, 2014    

Our fellows and their teams have spent weeks of immersion into low income communities, meetings with experts, doing ideation sessions and product validation directly with low income users. With only a month left in the Solve for {S} fellowship, we are excited to announce the projects each team has chosen! Stephanie Raill Jayanandhan and Avi Karnani: One in four households in the US don’t have a bank account or rely on expensive alternative financial services to manage their lives. ReBank helps people find good quality, affordable banking products that meet their needs, and overcome the barriers that keep them from accessing financial services. It’s like a buddy system for your financial life. Margo Wright: Only 11% of low-income, first-generation students… READ POST

Upcoming A Day in the Life Programs – Sign up now!

July 16, 2014    

Significance Labs’  A Day in the Life  Program offers technologists a unique opportunity to connect with low-income Americans. What is it? There are 2 million New Yorkers who live in families earning less than $25,000/year, and at Significance Labs, we believe that technology could be better tailored to their unique circumstances. A Day in the Life  gives you a chance to spend a  Saturday  getting to know a New Yorker from a low-income community. We’re working with families who will be your host, inviting you into their homes and neighborhoods, share a meal with you, and give you a glimpse of their day-to-day lives. You’ll see how they  use technology and think about how that could be re-imagined to better serve them. Simple conversations and… READ POST

Why Marc Andreessen Knows Nothing About Low-Income America and Neither Do You

June 30, 2014    

This blog post is written by Significance Labs fellow Ciara Byrne, and originally appeared in Forbes here. Not too long ago tech celebrity and venture capitalist  Marc Andreessen  made  some  tone-deaf comments on Twitter  about how “tech innovation disproportionately helps the poor”. The truth is that the tech business has long ignored people on low incomes. Most software developers (not to mention venture capitalists), who tend to be very well-paid, simply know nothing about them. A few weeks ago I was among their number. That’s when I started work at Significance Labs, a new not-for-profit in Brooklyn, New York, whose mission is to build tech products which create a little extra breathing space for the 25 million American families who live… READ POST