This interview presents premium insights into how people, technology and businesses can thrive together. Amidst the pandemic, strategizing around how to continue driving business is more important than ever before.
Meet the Co-Founders of Develop for Good, Mary Zhu and Amay Aggarwal. They’ll share a bit about the organization’s new initiatives, the social progress generated and more.
Develop for Good is a Stanford-founded 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that connects university student volunteers to app-development and web-design projects at national and international nonprofits.
How did Develop for Good get started?
At the onset of the pandemic, it was projected that tens of thousands of nonprofits across the US would shut down this year, without technical or financial support. At the same time, millions of university students were sent home, with many forced to deal with cancelled internships and fewer opportunities to gain project experience. After spotting these critical needs from both nonprofits and college students, we created Develop for Good.
What has it been like to launch Develop for Good?
Launching Develop for Good has been the most rewarding experience for both of us. Not only are we able to help struggling nonprofits get their technological needs met, we are also able to present new and unique volunteer opportunities to university students looking to make an impact through their talents and skills. Volunteers are able to give back and serve communities that are important to them while also refining their professional and teamwork capabilities. It’s a win-win situation all around.
What kinds of coronavirus-related projects are volunteers assisting with?
Our organization’s mission is especially important now because of the impacts of COVID-19 on both our nonprofit partners and future clients, as well as our student and recent graduate volunteers.
Organizations in the nonprofit sector are facing significant financial hardship; according to an analysis of tax filings by research group Candid, tens of thousands of nonprofits are likely to close without tech or financial support. Given the physical constraints imposed by COVID-19, many of our nonprofit partners have struggled to shift their operations and services to the virtual space. As a result, the majority of our development projects have been web or mobile apps intended to facilitate internal operations or serve target communities remotely. For example, a team of our developers is creating full-stack educational mobile and web applications for our clients at Save the Children, with the goal of connecting youth to employment opportunities and support services. Similarly, a team of our developers with our client at the Ronald McDonald House Charities is creating an in-house mobile application to help serve families of hospitalized children with contact-free guest check-ins given new procedures required in light of COVID-19.
Tell us about the value you’ve generated?
We have matched over 300 volunteer developers and designers to projects, and have partnerships with nearly 50 teams at major nonprofits including UNICEF, World Health Organization, Smithsonian Institution, World Bank, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Environmental Defense Fund. Since our inception in March 2020, we have accumulated a total of nearly 25,000 volunteer hours, with our ongoing projects estimated to save our nonprofit clients over $2 million in development costs. Develop for Good also seeks to empower underrepresented groups in tech to give back. Two-thirds of our developers and designers are female; one-third is first-generation or low-income (FLI).
How do you envision Develop for Good growing? What are your growth goals?
Our goal for Develop for Good is to continue serving nonprofits with technological needs all over the world, while continuing to expand our reach to international universities.
What’s the biggest issue that you’re trying to solve for right now?
With in-person volunteer programs and fundraising events cancelled, nonprofits must find ways to transition their methods of engaging with the community into virtual opportunities. Develop for Good helps nonprofits provide remote service opportunities through technology and design projects, providing well-structured and fulfilling options for those seeking them.
University students and recent graduates have also been impacted adversely by the rippling effects of the pandemic. With one of the worst economic downturns in recent history, tech companies have cancelled internships, withdrawn full-time offers, and implemented hiring freezes. With fewer open positions on the market, students are compelled to do anything they can to gain the technical skills needed to stand out among millions of job candidates today. With nearly all colleges and firms operating remotely, students and recent graduates also have more time on their hands to work on meaningful projects than ever before. Develop for Good provides project opportunities that serve doubly as educational experiences, while also promoting collaboration between individuals from different universities and backgrounds in a time when social interaction and networking opportunities are scarce.
You must know the cliché ‘software will save the world’. What’s your take on it?
Software will only save the world if the people creating the software are generous and compassionate.
How can organizations connect with you?
Nonprofits and potential student volunteers can submit project proposals or sign up for future opportunity notifications at www.developforgood.org. Additionally, nonprofits with specific inquiries can reach us at [email protected], while prospective volunteers can contact us at [email protected].
Bios of Develop for Good’s founders:
Mary Zhu is a Senior at Stanford University studying Computer Science for her B.S. and M.S and concentrating in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction. Born to immigrant parents in Wisconsin and raised in New Hampshire, Mary grew up receiving government-assisted care and is particularly passionate about giving back and serving the economically disadvantaged. Mary founded her first nonprofit organization in high school, and sold cakes to sponsor children living in underserved communities.
Amay Aggarwal is a Senior at Stanford University studying Computer Science for his M.S. (Artificial Intelligence concentration) and Management Science and Engineering for his B.S. Amay has prior experience using AI/ML and data science for social good, and is primarily interested in using technology to aid low socio-economic areas. Born in India and having lived several years each in Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and China, Amay enjoys traveling and is fluent in several different languages.