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Too often we find that corporate social responsibility comes up short as a service to our communities. We see companies treat social impact as a box to check by sending staff to paint a school once a year. It’s time to shift to a new model where companies leverage their human capital and immense resources to deliver real, lasting impact for underserved children and families like ours.
At Sheltering Arms, we’ve pioneered a solution and set a new standard for CSR – one that is realistic and impactful – both for companies and children. Our App-a-thon is a half-day mobile app development competition for low-income middle school students and corporate volunteers. We developed the curriculum to expose our kids to the skills and techniques employed by engineers and web developers during hackathons – the popular tech innovation competitions. Yet volunteers need no prior knowledge of technology or teacher training to work with students on the App-a-thon – just great entrepreneurial thinking skills and a desire to give back. Sheltering Arms staff provide all the guidance, materials, and fun.
We leverage partnerships with corporations to engage their employees in mentoring students throughout the project who traditionally lack exposure to role models in highly-skilled 21st Century careers. Throughout six successful App-a-thons this summer, 150+ volunteers from Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, The Blackstone Group, and Barclays, Morgan Stanley, and PwC guided 220+ students from our education programs as they competed to come up with the best cell phone app solutions.
“Blackstone prides itself in innovating, and we’ve never seen an event like this. The experience was immersive and competitive, and gave us insight into an up-and-coming generation of future innovators,” said Julia Kahr, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone who volunteered at an App-a-thon.
Take a look at some of their best designs from the summer, and keep your eyes on the market for the latest apps from the minds of our students and their volunteer mentors!