Our Blog

Five Insights about designing for Consumer Debt

January 26, 2017     / /

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. READ POST

Medium: Model Results

September 13, 2016    

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:… READ POST

Inside Philanthropy: Social Entrepreneurs Are Getting Hip to Systems

September 13, 2016    

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… READ POST

Navigating Complexity in the Pursuit of Public Interest Technology

September 7, 2016    

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. READ POST

Fellowship 2.0

February 16, 2016    

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. READ POST

Mobile Tech and the Potential for Social Impact

December 3, 2014    

At Significance Labs, people often ask us why we think building technology for low-income communities is a good opportunity. They ask about access to smartphones and computers and whether low-income users are technologically literate enough to use the products our teams produce. Some press us on the assumptions we make around behaviors, like whether low-income users will be comfortable inputting personal information into online platforms. The read the full Mobile Tech Survey here READ POST

Mobile Design For Social Impact Infographic

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

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… READ POST