Technology has the ability to touch our lives because of its ubiquitous nature and its unique role as an enabling platform. I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Center4 (205 West 39th Street, 16th floor) in NYC. The mission of Center4 is to help benefit social good by transforming the nonprofit health and human services sector by accelerating technological innovation. Its sponsorship includes the Blue Ridge Foundation, FEGS, and the Booth Ferriss Foundation.
Center4 focuses on the 4th sector of social innovation, which is the combination of 3 other sectors -government, private, and the nonprofit sector to solve social and healthcare issues including homelessness, mental health, workforce and employment needs, aging and youth development. There are currently ~35,000 nonprofits in the city and the center is a way of matching the tech space with nonprofits, as well as providing resources and mentorship for better efficiency and sustainability.
Brian Cohen, Chairman of NY Angels, spoke at the grand opening and talked about the need for people words and human words when it comes to technology. At the event, he announced the establishment of “Angels for Good”, which would educate angel investors on investing for social good, he also presented the Center with a check for $10,000.
14 different companies were showcased at the grand opening and I had the opportunity to talk to 2 of them in depth. The first company was Apploi (http://apploicorp.com/), which seeks to connect job seekers and employers, particularly in the service and hospitality industries via mobile technology. Employers pay to list jobs, and the app is free for job seekers who fill out a one time application, as opposed to filling out the same form and details over and over again for multiple jobs. It is device agnostic and is available as a free-standing kiosk or can be accessed from any mobile device. This is especially helpful, as job seekers who do not have land lines can easily access jobs through their mobile phones. Another key feature of the app is that it lets employers record questions and potential employees record responses. For example, a restaurant owner could ask a potential bartender hire to record him/herself making a martini. A second key feature of the app is the ability to show users jobs that are nearby, so a job seeker could potentially walk down a street and be notified that job openings are available.
The second company that I spoke to was CauseVox, an online fundraising platform for individuals, causes and nonprofits. Clients have the ability to design and customize their fundraising sites and have access to fundraising and social media enabling tools. The Causevox site (http://www.causevox.com) also offers tools, tips and resources to help clients in their fundraising efforts.
Center4 is yet another example of what is happening in NYC’s ever growing tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, it brings the work of social good and social innovation to the forefront and celebrates it.
To find out more about Center4 please visit their web site at: http://www.center4nyc.org/