New adventures

A personal message from Debbie Forster, Apps for Good co-CEO, on the next chapter for AFG UK and her future steps with AFG and beyond.

About six weeks ago, I got a bit of a shock on Whatsapp.  My 19 year old daughter, Jess, had been travelling by herself around Europe for a few weeks and had set up a message group titled, “Do Not Worry Parents.”  On it, she would send us updates of where she was and the highlights and lowlights of her travels.

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Taking Apps for Good to the next level (aka Global Domination for Good)

Many of you will have shared in our celebrations last year of 5 years of Apps for Good. When we first launched, we were sometimes asked what our ultimate goal was. Iris would say immediately, “Global domination.” I would laugh nervously and add, “For good, of course.”  Back then, with only 50 students at one London school, it seemed a wildly ambitious dream, but one we both believed in, knowing that the first step was to get things working in the UK.

Now five years later, we are not only established in the UK, but also growing in Portugal, Spain, Poland and most recently, the US.  I’ve been to New York, Minnesota, Maine and Arkansas and we now have 40 schools across the US, reaching around 1000 students this year.

As I bounce back and forth across the Atlantic, and Iris around Europe, we’ve realised we need someone to focus on leading our efforts in the UK, as our ambition remains equally great here. So, we’re recruiting a new UK Managing Director who can build on our strong foundation, leading the UK forward on its next phase of growth and innovating on our successful programme.  The new MD, working with the enthusiastic UK Apps for Good team, will have the chance to help us implement our new Internet of Things course, expand on our Fellowship Programme for former Apps for Good students and reach even more young people across the whole of the UK. They will be supported by Iris and I and our experienced Global Team. I will continue to oversee Apps for Good’s efforts both in the US and UK, while Iris guides our work in Portugal, Spain, Poland and our emerging partnerships around the world.
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#SiliconWick: Growing the next generation of Scottish Entrepreneurs with Digital Xtra

If you’ve known us for a while, you’ll definitely have heard of Wick, a town in the Scottish Highlands where Apps for Good-famous teacher Chris Aitken from Wick High School has had more teams win our UK national awards than any other school or learning centre (you can see some of the students’ apps here and here). We think the future of tech isn’t in London or San Francisco, but in Wick – and places like it all over Scotland.

That’s why we’re delighted to announce that we’ve received a grant from Digital Xtra, funded by the Scottish Government Digital Skills Business Excellence Partnership, to help us grow our after-school activities in Scotland.

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Joining the dots: 5 Years of Apps for Good

In 2015/16, we’ve been celebrating our first 5 years in schools. Here, Founder & co-CEO Iris Lapinski looks back at our journey from one centre and 50 students in South London to over 1,500 schools and 75,000 students around the world, and at where we might be going next.

It is always easy to look back at the past and tell a convincing and logical story of what has happened and why it was unavoidable. But, as Steve Jobs already noted in his famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech, connecting the dots looking backwards is easy; what is impossible is predicting the future and knowing what dots are important and connecting them before events happen. So, you have to trust that the dots will connect somehow in the future.  Continue reading

Celebrating Spain’s next generation of entrepreneurs

On May 25, we’ll be hosting our very first Madrid Festival with our partner Fundación Endesa. In this blog, Laura Casajús Izquierdo of Fundación Endesa introduces the Festival and the eight Finalist teams up for the Fundación Endesa Prize.

More than 200 students, guided by their teachers, are working to create a mobile or web app to transform lives and communities as they take part in Apps for Good in Madrid this school year. The Apps for Good project in Madrid is being supported by Fundación Endesa. We support the project as we agree with Apps for Good’s goals to encourage a new generation of young people to use technology to solve real problems and improve people’s quality of life. At the same time, students develop problem solving skills such as creativity, communications and teamwork which will allow them to succeed in the world of work.

In late May, students from public schools in Madrid will attend the Fundación Endesa Apps for Good 2016 Festival to present the apps they have created. Taking place at Endesa’s Headquarters in Madrid, the event will be hosted by Juanma Iturriaga, a famous former basketball player. We’re very excited to be hosting the Festival, where we’ll be welcoming Madrid’s tech and business community to meet the students and celebrate their innovative ideas and hard work.

COWYF2

Cowif: makes sharing your stuff easier

At the Festival, two prizes will be awarded: the People’s Choice Prize, open to all apps in the competition and chosen by the public attending the Festival; and the Fundación Endesa Prize, open to eight selected apps at the Festival and chosen by a panel of experts from the Foundation.

The apps eligible for the Fundación Endesa Prize are:

Random Breakfast – Have a good start to your day with breakfast based on food in your fridge, by Raquel, Marcela & Mateutsz from Colegio Nazaret Oporto

RecargaYA – Always have your transport card with credit on hand, by Ana, Isabel, Javier, Pablo & Patricia from Escuela Profesional Javeriana

Gamestreator – Compare prices, get discounts and recommendations for videogames, by Pedro, Óscar & Andrea from Colegio Nazaret Oporto

Cowif – Ensure you get your stuff back when you lend it to others, by Juan Carlos, Diego & Celia from Colegio Nazaret Oporto

MYRUNAPP – Discover your town running, by Diego, Paula, Julio, Linda, Violeta & Elianny from Colegio San Diego y San Vicente

Healthy Scan – Know what additives you are eating with your food, by Maria del Carmen, Sandra & Jonathan from Escuela Profesional Javeriana

BBCO sports – Bring people together with jokes about sport, by Oscar, Carlos, Bea, Bárbara & Byron from Colegio San Diego y San Vicente

SimpLie – Special homescreen for your children so they can’t access your phone without supervision, by Inmaculada, Andros, Rodrigo & Alejandra from Colegio Nazaret Oporto

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RecargaYA: always have your transport card to hand

Begoña Muñoz de Verger, Head of Projects & Development at Fundación Endesa, said, “The Apps for Good programme reinforces students’ confidence and talent through creative learning content, using new technologies to design and make apps that can make a better world for them. Fundación Endesa is committed to educational projects such as these, where personal experiences show a successful combination based on entrepreneurship, technology and commitment to a better world.”

Iris Lapinski, founder and co-CEO of Apps for Good, said, “For me the most inspiring thing is always to see what young people are worried about and what problems they want to solve in their communities. So I am excited to see great Spanish talent emerging from this and watching as they grow. Thanks to the support from Fundación Endesa, this is the first time we are running a festival in Spain, but I very much hope that there are many more to come.”

Laura Casajús Izquierdo is a Journalist at Fundación Endesa. She has a Masters degree in International Development Cooperation from Comillas Pontifical University. Her interests include International Relations, Human Rights and Radio. Be sure to follow #FundacionEndesaAFG for updates on the Festival and to hear the winners announced.

In Madrid and want to meet the next generation of entrepreneurs? Join us at the Festival by registering here.

Our Impact in 2014/15

It’s time again to talk not only about what we do at Apps for Good, but what we actually achieve in pursuing our goal of powering young people to change their world with technology.

In 2014/15 another seven of the best Apps for Good teams from across the UK launched their winning apps onto the market with the support of our development teams. But this is just the tip of the iceberg: during the last school year 24,000 students worked on nearly 5,000 app prototypes created to help make a difference to their communities. And this is not only in the UK, but also in new territories like Spain, Portugal, Poland and the USA. Our vision to become a truly global movement is one step closer.

But of course the number of app prototypes and number of students reached do not tell you the full story. By rooting students’ learning in the real world process of creating a technology product, students grow their skills and confidence. They get a clearer idea of their career options and choices in life. They get first-hand experience that building a technology product is a highly creative, collaborative way of working that can directly connect with their interests and passions. And, they learn that they have the power to change the world for the better. Educators delivering Apps for Good equally grow both in terms of their knowledge of technology but also pedagogical skills and confidence.

Here we present you the data for all of this. Collecting this data and making sense of it is not always easy, but we strongly believe that unless we keep measuring and tracking what we do publicly we cannot improve for the benefit of all of our communities. It is not only our students and educators who are learning, but so are we.

As we look back, the future is on our minds already. This year marks our 5th anniversary, when we will be celebrating having reached more than 50,000 students, a feat very few organisations achieve in our space. But this is just the start: our potential to grow both the quality of our work and our reach is bigger than it ever was before.

The world desperately needs more young people who are confident, resilient, and passionate and who actively and independently solve problems they face in their communities by turning technology into a force for good. And it also needs ever more confident, passionate and skilled educators who can support them on the journey.

We will do our best to help both.

Just imagine: a world where every young person and every educator on the planet could harness the benefits of these skills and confidence for themselves and their communities.  A world where people are empowered and able to solve problems they face.

A dream maybe, but not an impossible one to achieve.

Iris Lapinski, co-CEO, Apps for Good

Our Reach: A Global Movement

In 2014/15, the Apps for Good Course was delivered to 24,000 students in 588 schools all across the world. We have more than doubled the number of education partners we work with every year since the pilot in 2010/11.

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Our international growth in 2014/15 was significant, with major pilot communities in Spain, Portugal and USA. Schools outside the UK now account for 12% of the total Apps for Good education community.

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We have maintained high levels of diversity amongst our student body.

  • Girls consistently make up about half of our student cohort – far outstripping the 17% of female professionals in the tech industry.
  • As we grow, we are reaching proportionally more students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. In 2014/15, over half of the schools delivering the Apps for Good course were above the national average for recipients of free school meals.

Our Impact: Powering A Generation

The Apps for Good course continues to have a huge impact on a range of technical and soft skills that are vital to helping young people thrive in a tech driven future.

skills

We want to change the definition of failure. Our course incorporates the start-up ethos of “fail often, fail well”, teaching students that failure is an important part of problem-solving and building real-world products.

confidence

By offering students hands on experience with tech, showing them that tech development can be a creative and collaborative experience, and connecting students with Apps for Good Experts (professionals from the tech industry and beyond), the course puts their skills in a real-world context and inspires students to pursue careers involving tech.

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Our Impact: Transforming Education

To really power a generation to change their world through technology, Apps for Good aims to transform education by having an impact on educators.

impact

By building the knowledge and skills of teachers and changing the way they teach, we can extend the effect of Apps for Good year on year, with more confident teachers able to inspire students to be independent and drive their own learning, whilst guiding them towards solving the “messy problems” of the real world.

This report highlights only some of the stats we’ve gathered this year. We’ll be posting blogs over the coming months that investigate what we’ve learned and what we’ve gotten right and wrong. Get in touch with us at contact@appsforgood.org if you want more details on our data and impact reporting.

“A huge THANK YOU!!!” Expert Session at Denbigh High School

Late last year, Expert Arijana Dolos held an Expert Session with students at Denbigh High School. Following the session, Arijana sent us the email exchange she had with Emma Darcy, Director of Technology for Learning at Denbigh High School, to let us know how much she enjoyed the session. We were so chuffed that we decided to post it here (email addresses have been removed for privacy).

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Arijana Dolos
Date: 13 December 2013 15:04
Subject: Denbigh High (Luton)
To: Apps for Good

Hi Myrian,

Just wanted to share the below touching and really wonderful email as a follow up to my visit to Denbigh Highschool in Luton.
There was a total of 30 year 8 students approximately, split in 5 groups with some really great app ideas that were well thought out, defined and unique. They are a truly inspiring school, supported by such enthusiastic and dedicated teachers.  For such a young group, they were so professional, extremely well behaved, patient, curious and  and overall simply inspiring.  I would like to keep supporting them in the new year if/where necessary and hope they stay part of A4G to make the finals. 🙂
Let me know if you need any more information.
Regards,
Arijana
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Arijana Dolos
Date: 13 December 2013 14:55
Subject: Re: A huge THANKYOU!!!
To: “Darcy, Mrs E”

Hi Emma,

Please forgive my delayed response. 😦 I am embarrassed to be so late with my sincere THANK YOUs for the most wonderful day. I have never been welcomed so nicely and professionally. I still think of my name in the car park 🙂

Thank you for the wonderful energy from all the students, especially you! And, getting everything organised so well – I am absolutely blown away and couldn’t be more grateful.

All of the students were absolutely amazing. Their energy, enthusiasm, dedication, ideas and great thinking process: from thinking the ideas through, to how it will be executed to some really quality questions. One of the best groups I have worked with so far and proud of their progress. If I can be of any further help, I would be more than happy to come back again in the New Year.

Until then, I wish you Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.

Thank you again for this inspiring opportunity.

Best Regards,

Arijana

On 11 December 2013 08:55, Darcy, Mrs E wrote:

Hi Arijana

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming to Denbigh yesterday and giving so much of your time, energy and expertise to help our Apps For Good pupils. They had such a productive day and learnt so much, it will really help them move forward now with their ideas.
I know that you stayed longer than you had probably intended and that was also very much appreciated by Hannah and myself and the pupils. You must have been exhausted by the time you got back to London!
I hope that you had a safe journey home and that we will get the chance to work with you again.
Very Best Wishes
Emma
Emma Darcy 
Director of Technology for Learning