FCC Names Apps for Communities Winners


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The Federal Communications Commission and the Knight Foundation announced the winners of the Apps for Communities Challenge on Thursday, awarding $100,000 in prizes.

The winners, courtesy of the FCC:

  • Grand Prize: Yakb.us, (www.yakb.us) Ryan Resella: Provides bus riders with arrival times – in English and Spanish – when a five-digit bus stop number displayed onsite is texted to the local transit agency. YAKB.us is currently being used in Arlington County and Charlottesville, Va. and Santa Clarita, Calif.
  • Second Grand Prize: Homeless SCC (http://homeless-scc.org) Curtis Chang: Connects homeless people and families with services according to their specific needs and eligibility.  The web-based app, being used in San Jose, Calif., also tracks when an agency makes a referral, as a way to help agencies increase their efficiency.
  • Third Grand Prize: Txt2wrk (http://www.txt2wrk.net) Elise Ackerman, Jonathan Chan, Dave Chiu, Lawson Kight, Roger Ly and Alex Tam: Helps parolees, the homeless and other job seekers compete on a more level playing field by allowing them to apply for jobs online thorugh a text-to-speech delivery of job postings on any mobile phone. Job seekers are alerted to new job postings, can listen to job descriptions, and apply for jobs – all without a connection to the Internet. 


  • Access Together (www.accesstogether.org) John Schimmel: Enabling people with disabilities, their family and friends to crowdsource a community’s accessibility information.
  • PhillySNAP (www.phillysnap.com) Katey Metzroth, Mark Headd, Deng-Shun Chang, and Tim Wisniewski: Connecting low-income, technologically isolated Philadelphia residents with fresh local food sources.
  • Places Kids Go: (www.placeskidsgo.com) Ningning Lin, Jerry Lin and Andrew Chen: Simplifying searches for children’s activities in San Jose, Calif.
  • PREPPED kids (www.preppedkids.org) Damien Leri, Ian Bennett, and Stanton Wortham: Helping low-income families in Norristown, Pa. more easily access preschool and pediatric services in their local communities.
  • Talk with Sam (www.talkwithsam.com) Vikram Pant: Providing residents with the ability to see – and comment on – the bills of elected officials near them, based on their location.

In addition, the challenge offered bonus prizes in a variety of categories to help underserved populations:

  • Best Design and Visualization – $10,000 Bonus: Homeless SCC, Curtis Chang (see description above)
  • Most Replicable Application -$10,000 Bonus: Access Together, John Schimmel (see description above)
  • App with the best use of SMS – $5,000 Bonus: txt2wrk, Elise Ackerman, Jonathan Chan, Dave Chiu, Lawson Kight, Roger Ly and Alex Tam (see description above)
  • App that best impacts people with limited digital proficiency – $5,000 Bonus: Prepped Kids (see description above)
  • App that best impacts people with limited English literacy – $5,000 bonus::  Off to Market (http://mertonium.com/off-to-market/), John Mertens: Using SMS to help people find fresh food in their area.

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Agencies, Apps for Communities, Departments, FCC, Federal Communications Commission