Center4 Social Innovation in NYC



Technology has the ability to touch our lives due in large part to its ubiquitous nature and its unique role as an enabling platform. I had the pleasure of attending the grand opening of the Center4 in NYC. The mission of Center4 is to help create social good by transforming the nonprofit health and human services sector through accelerating technological innovation. Its sponsorship includes the Blue Ridge Foundation, FEGS, and the Booth Ferris Foundation.

Center4 focuses on the 4th sector of social innovation, which is the combination of 3 other sectors -government, private, and the nonprofit sector, to solve social and healthcare issues including homelessness, mental health, workforce and employment needs, aging and youth development. There are currently about 35,000 nonprofits in the city and Center 4 is a way of matching the tech space with nonprofits, as well as providing resources and mentorship for better efficiency and sustainability.

Brian Cohen, Chairman of NY Angels, spoke at the grand opening and talked about the need for people words and human words when it comes to technology. At the event, he announced the establishment of “Angels for Good,” which would educate angel investors on investing in social good; he also presented the Center with a check for $10,000.

At the grand opening, 14 different companies were showcased and I had the opportunity to talk to 2 of them in depth.

The first company was Apploi, which seeks to connect job seekers and employers, particularly in the service and hospitality industries, via mobile technology. Employers pay Apploi to list jobs. Meanwhile the app is free for job seekers who fill out a one-time application, as opposed to filling out the same form and details over and over again for multiple jobs. It is device agnostic and is available as a freestanding kiosk or can be accessed from any mobile device. This is especially helpful, as job seekers who do not have landlines can easily access jobs through their mobile phones. Another key feature of the app is that it allows employers to record questions while potential employees record responses. For example, a restaurant owner could ask a potential bartender hire to record him/herself making a martini. A third key feature of the app is the ability to show users jobs that are nearby. So a job seeker could potentially walk down a street and be notified that job openings are available.

The second company that I spoke to was CauseVox, an online fundraising platform for individuals, causes and nonprofits. Clients have the ability to design and customize their fundraising sites and have access to fundraising and social media enabling tools. The Causevox site also offers tools, tips and resources to help clients in their fundraising efforts.

Center4 is yet another example of what is happening in NYC’s ever-growing tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, it brings the work of social good and social innovation to the forefront while celebrating it.

Reprinted by permission.

Image Credit: CC by Roman Lakoubtchik

About the author: Dr. Charlene Ngamwajasat

Dr. Charlene Ngamwajasat is the creator and writer of the blog Just Curious. She practices in New York City, specializing in internal medicine. She describes herself as a physician who loves to travel, read and experience new things.

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