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Significance Labs Fellowship Products

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…

July 23, 2014

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

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…

July 16, 2014

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

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…

June 30, 2014

Check out Fellow Jimmy Chen: Why I Want to Build High-Tech Products for Low-Income Americans

Check out Fellow Jimmy Chen: Why I Want to Build High-Tech Products for Low-Income Americans Because we don’t need better selfies. We need technology that actually makes the world a better place…. Significance Labs fellow Jimmy Chen writes in the Huffington Post on why he’s spending the summer with us.

June 26, 2014

Announcing our 2014 Fellows

Since we launched the program April 1st, the Significance Labs Fellowship has had over 10,000 visitors and 150 applicants, and we’re proud to be able to announce our 2014 fellows. These five entrepreneurs have an amazing collective background – with experience at Facebook, LinkedIn, YCombinator & FastCompany, who’ve built and sold three very successful businesses. They are building their new teams to take on the Significance Labs challenge:  three months to design and build a product addressing a need of a low-income user group  (and we have a pool of 200+ potential users for interviews, focus groups and product testing). At the end of the summer there’s a pitch day attended by leading VCs with a chance for the good ideas to keep going….

May 20, 2014

April Update

It’s crazy that it’s been a little over two months since this came together and we started building the idea. In early April we launched Significance Labs, and now, one month later, we are excited  to share our  first progress report. Inboxes Overflowing!We were delighted – and little overwhelmed – to have almost 10,000 visitors and over 150 applications to the Solvefor{s} Fellowship. It’s been a whirlwind selecting our five fellows – and we look forward to announcing them shortly. Community Connections.In the meantime, we’ve been working with a half dozen great nonprofits and community groups to build out a pool of people from a variety of different backgrounds. From single moms to community college students to recent  immigrants, we have over 200…

May 12, 2014

To build truly inclusive cities, we need to include all citizens in the innovation process

This blog post is a response to the Meeting of the Minds & Living Cities  group blogging event,  which asks, “How could cities better connect all their residents to economic opportunity?” Check out the other responses at http://cityminded.org/urban-opportunity When we heard about this question, our minds immediately went to the word “all” – how do we ensure that civic innovation benefits the full spectrum of city residents and not just the ones who are most vocal or most connected to the process of civic governance? At the heart of our work here at Significance Labs – where we’re helping technologists build new products for underserved communities – is a belief that effective innovation must include the voices of users. There are…

May 12, 2014

What to do about money?

We faced an interesting challenge. The people we work with are among the lowest paid Americans. Imagine a family of three or four trying to get by on less than $2,000 a month. And yet the challenge with all the “Labs” models that we came across is that developers and designers are among the highest paid – regularly pulling down six figures. We didn’t want to have that disparity. Instead, we made two bold moves. One we call the equality clause. We pay everyone who contributes to Significance Labs roughly the same hourly rate.   The second we call the single mom clause. The exception to the equality clause is that we want to pay the people who we ask to share their lives and…

May 8, 2014

A Tale of Two Smartphones: A few observations from our April Day in the Life

Other members of the team have already written about the details of our first Day in the Life, so I’m not going to cover it here, but I did want to share an interesting set of conversations from our debrief with participants at the end of the day. It turned out that both the technologists and the students were surprised by how the other used their phones! Our technologists were amazed by how few people riding the bus or the dollar van had their phones out – a stark contrast to their short subway trips to work in Manhattan where every other person seemed to be juggling a phone and headphones along with their coffee or e-reader. And our students…

April 24, 2014

“A little more breathing space”

Dionne Grayson, mother of two, hyper-energized, curious Brownsville resident, was nodding as we described what we were trying to do. “Yes, that makes sense. We all have a million things we’re juggling. You want to find ways for technology to give us a little more breathing space? That sure would be helpful.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. We don’t want to come in with an approach that says “you should do X, and here’s a new way of doing it using technology.” You should vote, should eat healthy, you should save, should attend this meeting. You should … People who are earning less than two thousand dollars a month have enough on their minds. What we want to do is find…

April 23, 2014