This has been the year of social organization. COVID-19 flew across the world as a pandemic and a rash of United States, governments and nonprofit organizations and volunteer organizations offering everything from food and medical supplies to children’s books and clothing And giving to individuals and families battling the virus.
Perhaps the biggest division for people to get help has gone digital – the need for non-profits to connect with their beneficiaries on the Internet as much as any retailer today. Unfortunately, technical talent is expensive and difficult, especially for often cashless nonprofits.
It was part of the inspiration to co-found two Stanford Seniors, Mary Zhu and Amay Aggarwal Grow for goodA mail service designed to connect computer science, design, and economics and to connect aspiring underground with specific projects for nonprofit projects that require expertise. He launched the network in March as the epidemic began to spread rapidly, and since then, the organization itself has started growing rapidly.
Good for Development ”was in response [the pandemic], But at the same time, many of our peers canceled their internships, [and] A lot of companies were hiring freezes, ”Zhu explained. “People were also looking for opportunities to develop their professional skills and to be able to develop their project experience.” This coincidence of needs between both students and non-beneficiaries helped to develop the synergies that accelerate good proposals.
So far, the 501 (c) (3) non-profit group has coordinated more than 25,000 volunteer hours in groups such as Ronald McDonald House, UNICEF, Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Eastersales, The Nature Conservancy, Save the Children . AARP and more. The program, which focused on Zhu and Agarwal’s network at Stanford, has since expanded to more than a dozen schools throughout the United States. The two first reached out to nonprofits through a Stanford alumni network, although as the program’s reputation has grown, they are also beginning to receive inbound interest.
Volunteers take projects 5–10 hours per week for 10 weeks, usually in teams. Each team meets with its non-profit client to ensure that the project matches expectations. Typical projects include application development, data visualization, and web design. Most projects end at the end of a batch, although the founders note that some intensive projects such as product development may cross over into future batches. As the program has expanded, Zhu and Aggarwal have added a more formal mentorship component to the program to help guide students through their work.
Applications for the next batch starting in January are Currently open to students (They are due January 2, so get them in a hurry!). The founders told me that they are expecting 800 applications, and will probably be able to match around 200 volunteers for 32 projects. Applications are mostly about matching interests with potential programs for the most appropriate rather than purely competitive practice. So far, the program has worked on 50 projects.
For this next batch, Amazon Web Services will give a stipend for the first generation and low-income students to help disrupt the financial impact of volunteer work for some students. Agrawal said, “During the last cycle, some people had to leave because they said, ‘They are unable to work for free because they are under too much financial stress for their families.” The new stipend is intended to help these students continue voluntarily to reduce that financial burden.
Aggarwal said that two-thirds of the program’s volunteer developers and designers are women, and one-third are first-generation or low-income.