Welcome to Project REACH! In March 2012, the VA Center for Innovation launched Project REACH with Jon Bon Jovi and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to put information about local homelessness resources into the hands of people who can help others in need.
On June 5, 2012, VA, HUD, and Jon Bon Jovi announced the five finalists (check out the photo gallery). Winners of a $10,000 prize, the finalists created apps that allow anybody to locate points of service such as health clinics, food kitchens, or shelters within a test locality. For Project REACH, that area is local to the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where diners can cover the cost of their meals either through donation or volunteering. The finalists were given time to improve their apps based on feedback from beta testers volunteering at the Soul Kitchen.
We announced the winner of the $25,000 grand prize, Qbase, on April 15, 2013. Qbase's app, "Homeless REACH", received the highest score from judges who evaluated the five finalist submissions based on factors such as sustainability, scalability, and completeness of information made available to people helping Veterans and others experiencing homelessness.
Location: Reston, VA
Summary: The Qbase REACH app allows anyone with a smart phone to quickly find up-to-date, real-time information on available shelters and services within a selectable radius of their current location or from any keyed full or partial address. Our app's highlight is the ability to filter location-based results from the data we have mined with incredible accuracy based on our geocoding of places and services. Our app can be rapidly expanded beyond New Jersey by adding new data sources and will allow a person to find resources anywhere in the US.
Organization: Binary Group
Location: Arlington, VA
Summary: Our app gives homeless Veterans and caregivers access to information about the localized, personalized services they need as quickly as possible. On bringing up the app, a user sees a few simple ways to find the help they need with as little effort as possible, using controls familiar to any smartphone user. Starting with the immediate needs of the homeless, the user can click to see a list of local points of service and the most useful information, click to see more information such as phone numbers, and just click once more to place a phone call or see the address on a map.
Location: Forest Hills, NY
Summary: The idea of "encounter reporting" inspired this submission. If people see the homeless and want to help, but don't know how, then perhaps by bringing them together, they can energize each other and become more involved. In my app, users are able to document their interaction with the homeless after logging in via Facebook. Other visitors can then connect with users that have reported about the homeless in their neighborhood. In accordance with the Project REACH Mobile App Challenge criteria, the app also provides access to bed availability, health, legal, job, and crisis resources local to Monmouth County, NJ.
Organization: JJAppCo, LLC
Location: Manchester, NJ
Summary: Our submission includes a mobile app and website that helps homeless individuals locate the resources they need. It displays resources such as shelters, food banks, and medical services based on the user's current location. Caregivers working at shelters even have a built-in mechanism that enables them to update the number of available beds in real-time. We've also added an accompanying SMS feature for people who don't have access to a smartphone or the ability to install the app or navigate to the website. You can text the name of a town to our service, and they will receive a reply with the closest shelter information.
Organization: Makani Kai Tech
Location: Kihei, HI
Summary: Our submission is a web and cross platform mobile application that leverages national and local datasources to enable care providers to quickly access local resources for those in need. From any smartphone, tablet, or desktop a user can easily find information on local shelter availability, food banks, soup kitchens, pantries, health services, lawyers and other programs and benefits for both Veterans and other populations. The goal is to efficiently guide the client to relevant local resource the first time.