Technology for Good: Two Mobile Apps With a Social Purpose

By: eBay Inc. Staff

Using technology for good has always been a strong part of our purpose at eBay Inc.

And this time our product engineers across the company have come together to extend their coding and development skills in ways that give back to the world.

Our Social Innovation team, which helped launch last year’s Opportunity Hack, is spearheading the current initiative by partnering with engineers and helping create two mobile apps for iOS and Android devices that are working to make a big difference for nonprofit organizations and students, respectively.

Waste No Food
Varsha Shah led a team of engineers in developing the mobile app, Waste No Food, which connects businesses with nonprofits, as well as volunteers, allowing for food to be redistributed in real-time.

Waste No Food is a nonprofit organization that provides a web-based “marketplace” to facilitate the flow of excess food from the food service industry to qualified direct service organizations in California’s greater Bay Area and Orange County.

One-third of all food from farms, restaurants and grocery stores ends up going to waste. Yet, groups that have excess food still don’t have an efficient way to donate to millions of hungry Americans, and Waste No Food provides that medium. 

“It’s awesome to be in a company like eBay that allows me to innovate and execute on projects close to my heart,” Shah said. “The Waste No Food app is actually the eBay model applied to solve the problem of hunger. It’s simple, scalable, extensible globally, and created with a lot of love.”

The app is currently available for free on Google Play and iTunes and all qualifying businesses can receive a tax deduction for their donations.   

San Jose Public Library (SJPL) Summer Reading Challenge
Meanwhile, another team of engineers, led by Jerry Louis, has produced the SJPL Summer Reading Challenge app in conjunction with the San Jose Public Library.

The app is aimed at readers and pre-readers and it helps students retain their skills and return to school ready to learn. Within the app, summer readers are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes a day and can keep a log of their reading through the app’s “Reading Battery.”

Participants, including adults, can also play Bingo-like games tailored to their age level. The activities in the app fall into four categories: reading, learning "STEAM" concepts (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math), exploring library and community resources, and energizing. Participants complete rows of activities on the grid and can earn prizes that can be claimed at their local libraries.

“Opportunity Hack was a great way for the San José Public Library? to connect with pro bono talent in Silicon Valley,” Madeline Walton-Hadlock, Senior Librarian, said. “The event helped lead to the eventual completion of not one, but three projects-- a site, an Android app, and an iOS app-- to support the Library's Summer Reading Challenge.”

“Using these new tech tools, the Library has been able to greatly expand its Summer Reading Challenge, which seeks to reduce summer learning loss among students and promote family literacy,” Walton-Hadlock added. The SJPL Summer Reading Challenge app is currently available for free on Google Play, iTunes and the San Jose Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge website.

In addition to these projects, several other local nonprofits, including Goodwill of Silicon Valley, Children’s Discovery Museum, and Valley Verde, are benefiting from technology development that started at Opportunity Hack.

Dating back to eBay Inc.’s founding, our employees have been guided by a sense of purpose. The development of the Waste No Food and the SJPL Summer Reading Challenge apps are just two examples of how our employees are making a positive impact at our company and in their surrounding communities. For more information, visit: http://www.ebayinc.com/social-innovation/employee-engagement.