Blog

Five Insights about designing for Consumer Debt

In the summer of 2016, I was part of a team that formed through Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood Foundation’s Fellowship program. We built an online tool called Daisy Debt to help low income New Yorkers deal with illegal debt collection practices.This article summarizes five key takeaways and opportunities in building technology solutions to address consumer debt.

January 26, 2017

Medium: Model Results

Innovators are using technology to change our world — creating global connections, more effective healthcare, safer roads, and on the second floor of a Brooklyn walk-up, solutions in the fight against poverty. That’s where Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood (BRL) is supporting the efforts of leading technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and others with the next big idea for social good. The initiative helps identify and launch tech-enabled products or ventures through three initiatives: the Fellowship, a five-month program to prototype and test new technology for social change; Catalyst, a six-month incubator that helps boost the most promising early-stage ventures; and access to the Design Insight Group (DIG), a community of over 500 low-income New Yorkers who provide feedback on products. Model Results:…

September 13, 2016

Inside Philanthropy: Social Entrepreneurs Are Getting Hip to Systems

From its Brooklyn co-working space, Blue Ridge guides its portfolio companies through the treacherous early life of the startup, assisting them with grants and expertise as they flesh out their offerings, learn the entrepreneurial ropes, and start shopping around for investors. In many ways, Blue Ridge Labs is similar to startup incubators across the country. But several things mark it out as a place to watch. For one, the Robin Hood Foundation funds Blue Ridge in its entirety. And Robin Hood, in turn, has the backing of a powerful board representing the city’s wealthiest interests. For another, Blue Ridge Labs takes a refreshingly systems-oriented view and is good at listening. In a Startup Incubator, More Signs Social Entrepreneurs Are Getting…

September 13, 2016

Navigating Complexity in the Pursuit of Public Interest Technology

The idea of public interest law was first noted in a famous speech by Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis in 1905. In that speech Brandeis argued that, “able lawyers have to a large extent allowed themselves to become adjuncts of great corporations and have neglected their obligation to use their powers for the protection of the people.” He essentially felt that lawyers had largely failed to utilize their skills in the protection and promotion of social good and that a significant refocus and cultural shift was needed.

September 7, 2016

Trying to Do Good with Tech

It’s not easy to make social change with technology. I knew that going into my fellowship at Blue Ridge Labs, but my experience here has given me a clearer idea of why. These are the themes that kept coming up for me as I worked with 16 other fellows on the problem of access to justice (A2J) for low-income New Yorkers.

August 31, 2016

Civil Justice For All

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.

May 24, 2016

Fellowship 2.0

Here at the Labs we’re big fans of lean. That means constant iteration on our product – which for us is our programs. At the start of each cycle, we identify a set of assumptions to test, measure the results, and then reflect on what we’ve learned and how it means we can improve.

February 16, 2016

Alumni Profile: Dylan Butman

Dylan Butman is native of New York and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Computational Aesthetics from New York University. He works as a programmer, designer, and fabricator, building web-based applications, experimental user interfaces, interactive data visualizations, and creative coding installations. He’s the engineer for Populace, a tool designed to bring people closer to community programs.

November 16, 2015

5 Insights From Our 2016 Summer Fellowship

In a previous post we shared the five exciting applications that resulted from our 2015 summer fellowship. But while it’s always tempting to only look at the end results, we’d also like to share some of the interesting insights our teams learned along the way. To get kids to out-of-school programs, make sure their parents have friends there too Grapevine spoke with many parents and providers of out-of-school programs to get a holistic sense of people’s patterns of behavior when it comes to finding activities for their kids. Interestingly, they learned that many parents would prefer to take their children to programming if there is some sort of social component for the parents. Most of us can relate. Going to…

November 9, 2015

Announcing the Catalyst Finalists!

Announcing the 2015 Catalyst finalists! Three weeks after announcing Catalyst, our brand new incubation program for early stage technology ventures at Blue Ridge Labs, we received over 40 outstanding applications! From our judges’ deliberations, 7 finalist teams emerged. Three of which will be selected by our all-star panel of finals judges to join us for six months of support, workshops, and a $40k cash stipend.

October 7, 2015