Melanie Lavelle, CEO and Cofounder of Benefit Kitchen
Lavelle’s company has an ambitious mission: to end poverty. She shared a startling statistic that in NYC and California, 50% of low-income families aren’t utilizing their government benefits, simply because they don’t know what they’re eligible for. Benefit Kitchen is a website that provides a free benefit screening – all, without asking for a Social Security Number – to show users their government benefit options. The site also tests across benefits: for example, one is only eligible for ObamaCare if she is ineligible for Medicaid, and Benefit Kitchen accounts for that. While one audience member questioned the ability of Lavelle’s target audience to even access Benefit Kitchen, given the need for Internet access, Lavelle informed the crowd that 80-85% of low-income Americans indeed have Internet access.