#YouthvsCOVID: Bridge4Good, making charitible donations to the homeless safely

It all started with the click of a button. Actually, six clicks. Signing up for the TeensInAI YouthvsCovid19 Online Global Hackathon brought six students from across the US together to be inspired, to innovate, and to create. A week after the hackathon, five of us are bringing our idea to life.

When we had our first conversation on Discord, our team immediately decided to tackle the problem of vulnerable people at high risk during the pandemic. We saw the problem of homelessness firsthand. With team members located in Seattle, New York City, and Atlanta, we constantly witness homeless people on city streets. We knew that homelessness was stigmatized, and we wanted to help this disadvantaged group.

The idea was simple: create a convenient digital platform for donors to support homeless populations. Products purchased by donors would be delivered by small businesses, so that they could be sustained while shelters were receiving donations. The unique aspect of our idea was that donors could select exactly what they were giving, and unlike current options, products could be donated with a click of a button. Our business was named Bridge4Good, because we are connecting different groups of people for the benefit of the community.

Everyone took on different roles for the project to run smoothly. Neha was the project manager, Karina and Victoria focused on developing ML, Watson made the business plan, and Amulya and I worked on UX design. We got to work right away. As we only had two weeks to design and pitch, time management skills were essential. Our mentors were also vital in helping our team surpass obstacles at every meeting. Daily virtual meetings were critical, as this was one of the ways we discussed progress and next steps. Ultimately, we had a working Flask demonstration, a website prototype, and a business plan along with research to pitch to the judges.

On the day of the live pitch, everyone was anxious and excited to perform their best. We had practiced our slides time and time again and had asked each other potential Q&A questions to prepare. After our three-minute pitch, we waited for the results to be announced. The second we heard that Bridge4Good had placed third and won the ‘Digital Growth’ prize, we began celebrating our victory in the group chat. That was the day where all the hard work paid off.

Hackathon Bridge4Good has come to a glorious ending, but a new chapter of Bridge4Good is just beginning. With mentoring opportunities from Avanade and AI CoE, now, Bridge4Good will be implemented in the real world. Our team is currently contacting local homeless shelters and building a website to fit their needs. We have just purchased a domain name and are ready to start connecting donors with shelters.

And that’s how a group of students from across the US came together to create Bridge4Good. An idea that was nonexistent just a month ago is now becoming a reality. All by the click of a few buttons.

Powering the Next Generation of Thought Leaders, Innovators and Technologists in #AI @teensinai #TeensInAI #GirlsinAI #MCStartup2016 Founder @elenasinel