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.

Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

An exciting Christmas season at Apps for Good!

In many offices the countdown to Christmas can make December a quieter month, but this is not the case at Apps for Good. December has been non stop here, with so much to celebrate and report that we decided to write a blog about it all.

Early in December, Apps for Good visited No. 10 Downing Street along with students from Apps for Good Ninja Education Partner Highgate Wood School and their educators David Talbert and Claire Allaway. The girls took part in a special event to mark the launch of Hour of Code – participating in a coding session hosted by Apps for Good partner Free:formers. The students weren’t afraid to share their opinions with PM David Cameron, telling him all about the Apps for Good course and their app ideas. Well done girls!

Girls from

Girls from Highgate Wood School discuss Apps for Good with David Cameron

We love to see our Education Partners showing their creative side – and not just with their app ideas. While working hard on their Apps For Good ideas, the students at Gorsey Bank Primary School used their computer programming skills to create a giant digital Christmas tree. We are really impressed by their skill and imagination and now really want our own digital Christmas tree next year.

Gorsey Bank students' digital Christmas Tree

Gorsey Bank students’ digital Christmas Tree

December also marked the expansion of the Apps for Good team, with Freddie, Rabya, Emily, Max and myself – Noreen, joining the Communications and Communities and Business Development teams. We’re really excited to be on board and have been doing some exciting work already, including planning the upcoming Apps for Good App Launch and getting ready to kick off the new Fellows programme.

Emily, Rabya, Noreen, Max and Freddie have joined the Apps for Good team

Emily, Rabya, Noreen, Max and Freddie have joined the Apps for Good team

This Christmas, Apps for Good received a very special and generous holiday gift from IT and technology law firm Waterfront Solicitors. Working with IT companies and entrepreneurs every day, Waterfront are champions of innovation. In keeping with this spirit, they opted to donate their Christmas card budget to Apps for Good in order to help us grow the next generation of problem solvers and digital makers. A huge thank you from all of us at App for Good!

With all this excitement and activity in December we’re all looking forward to our Christmas break! Before we sign off for the holidays though we’d like to thank our partners, Experts, Educators and students for being part of the Apps for Good movement. We can’t wait to continue to work with you all in 2015. Until then from everyone at Apps for Good – Happy Holidays!

We’d love to hear what our Apps for Good Education Partners, Experts and Corporate Partners have been up to this holiday season. Please share your stories with us at @AppsforGoodCDI.

Apps for Good behind the scenes: Meet Rabya – our new Fellows Community Manager!

It’s an exciting time at Apps for Good with our Fellows Programme set to be officially unveiled at our Apps Launch on 5 February 2015. The Fellows Programme is powered by Thomson Reuters and will allow students to remain involved with Apps for Good long after they have completed the course. Joining the ranks of Apps for Good to work with our students and help the Fellows programme kick off is Rabya Mughal. Here she tells us a bit more about herself, her work and what the Apps for Good Fellows Programme is all about.

Tell us about the Apps for Good Fellows Programme?

The Apps for Good Fellows programme supports former students of the Apps for Good course. By connecting students with our network of partners like Thomson Reuters and Facebook and our amazing community of Experts, the Fellows programme is a unique opportunity to develop your interest and skills in particular areas. As an Apps for Good Fellow, you can:

  • Learn: Continue to develop the skills you learned in Apps for Good – everything from coding to leadership
  • Achieve: Enter competitions and challenges
  • Discover: Explore career paths and get real insight from industry experts
  • Do: Gain work experience, either in person or remotely
  • Engage: Get help from Experts to work on your next project
  • Return: Become an ambassador and mentor new students, speak at events and help shape the Fellows programme

What does your work as Fellows Community Manager entail?

Apps for Good has grown very rapidly recently and a big part of all our jobs is facilitating this growth. At the moment, my job entails lots of thinking and planning around what the Fellows programme will look like in the coming months, as well as working directly with our community of Fellows.

What were you doing before joining Apps for Good?

Before Apps for Good, I worked for a service design company called Participle, where I had lots of different roles from the team PA to service designer. I was also studying for a Masters in Education… technically I am still studying for my Masters so on a Wednesday afternoon you will see me scurrying around getting ready for my lectures!

'I wanted to get involved in something interesting and exciting'

‘I wanted to get involved in something interesting and exciting’

Why did you want to join Apps for Good and what do you hope to achieve in your role?

I wanted to join Apps for Good because I wanted to get involved in something interesting and exciting, and I really liked the idea of teaching kids how to code – it’s one of those really valuable skills that I wish I’d learnt at school and it teaches you all sorts of problem solving and logic skills. I’d heard about Apps for Good from several different places and when I saw that they were recruiting I knew I had to apply. In my role I hope to create a good quality, sustainable Fellows programme for everyone who takes part in the Apps for Good course.

Any messages for students interested in the Fellows programme?

We’re looking for people who want to carry on doing exciting new things. If you would you like to learn new skills, talk to our Experts, help out at an event or know what’s going on in the world of tech and business, then the Fellows Programme will be a great fit for you, so don’t be afraid to reach out and get involved!

If you are interested in the Fellows programme or just have a question, drop us a line at fellows@appsforgood.org. Follow us at @AppsforGoodCDI or check back on our blog to learn more about what our Fellows are up to.

Apps for Good behind the scenes: Role of Expert Community Manager

Despite the relatively small team here at Apps for Good, the roles within our organisation are very diverse and allow people who work for us to grow and develop their professional skill set. It’s a difficult task to single out one particular role, but we wanted to give an insight into one of the most exciting positions at Apps for Good: the role of the Expert Community Manager.

So, when she wasn’t too busy number crunching, we spent some time with former Expert Community Manager, Myrian, who now splits her time across two roles at Apps for Good: Data & Analysis Manager and Fellows Community Manager.

Tell us about the role of the Expert Community Manager, and what does it involve?

The Expert Community Manager is responsible for managing our community of Experts, tech professionals and entrepreneurs who volunteer to give sessions to our students who are taking the Apps for Good course. Within the community there is a great talent pool with people having expertise in everything from public speaking to idea generation – this allows for students to get some fantastic advice from those working within the industry.

Tell us about an average day in the role

Well, no one day was the same and that’s what I loved about the role! It also really varied depending on the time of year: for example, in the run up to the Apps for Good Awards in June, a focus of the role is to organise the tech start-ups that host the Finalist teams on their big day.

Each day I would monitor new session requests on our platform – it was always really exciting seeing all these requests uploaded by our educators and get to share these opportunities with our Expert volunteers. It’s a really fulfilling feeling once a match has been made, and then hear about the session afterwards from the Expert.

There are also lots of other exciting aspects to the role: producing communications materials, arranging meet-ups/events and getting to meet lots of new people. It’s a perfect role for someone interested in the UK tech-scene because you get to know a lot of really cool, smart and interesting people who want to help us on our mission to change education

"No one day is the same and that's what I love about the role" says Myrian

“No one day is the same and that’s what I loved about the role” says Myrian

What was one of the most rewarding aspects of the role?

It’s not just working on the Experts delivering sessions in schools – it’s so much more. In the past Experts have helped us tweak our course content, shortlist Apps for Good Awards entries, and provide internships and training for students beyond the course. Our 2014 Expert of the Year, Paul, came with me to an Expert recruitment event and ran an amazing workshop on idea generation with a group of young people – there are so many people in the community who go this extra mile and are really involved with us.

It’s also great that it’s a real global community. We started recruiting Experts in London, expanded across the UK, and now we hear back from educators and students who have had a session with Experts from places such as Uganda and Brazil! The educator who hosted the Expert from Uganda told me that her students had never heard of Uganda – they were from a primary school and they had the session via Skype – and so the Expert ended the session talking about his country because the kids were so fascinated about where he lives. In the Expert sessions, it’s not just about the students getting help to develop their project; it’s also about the students meeting people from around the world and inspiring educators.

We now have over 800 Experts, where is next for our community and what are the priorities?

For this year, the aim is to grow the percentage of female Experts from 25% to at least 40% – to surpass the current IT industry make up of 17% women. I really hope we can push this, so more girls get to know successful role models working in tech to breakdown stereotypes and inspire our female students to enter this industry.

The other big push for recruitment is in Scotland, where we’re in over 10% of secondary schools. We want our students to not only be exposed to Experts from around the world, but also hear local voices so they can understand the opportunities available closer to home.

From a strategic point of view, I believe it’s not so much about expanding the Expert community, instead it’s about behavioural change within our community of educators. One of the biggest challenges within this role is helping communicate to educators the real benefits of using the Expert programme – of which there are many!

How did you get into your current role as Data & Analysis and Fellows Community Manager?

While developing the Expert Community, I really enjoyed making evidence-based decisions to inform my work. When we were looking for a new Data & Analysis Manager, I was given the opportunity to head up that area within our organisation and look at ways how we can improve our impact measurement and internal process efficiency. On top of this, I was asked if I would lead a pilot project with our former Apps for Good students (our Fellows). It’s been a great chance to continue to engage these young people and provide them with opportunities to enhance their interests and skills beyond the Apps for Good course.

Although I was sad to finish working with our Experts, I was really excited to take on-board this new challenge. That’s what is great about Apps for Good – you get to grow into your own role and are not restricted to trying new things and being creative!

Click here to find out what roles we have at Apps for Good and get to know our team a little more!

 

 

 

 

 

Day in the life of Communications & Events Officer

It’s 9:30am and the Apps for Good office is already buzzing with lots of activity planned across the teams throughout the day. I sit down at my desk and go through my to-do-list, making sure urgent tasks are prioritised – it’s only a few weeks until the annual Apps for Good Awards so that will likely take up a lot of my time today. But first, to the kitchen for a cup of tea!

Today I have several meetings in and out of the office:

  • 10am – meeting with Business Development team to discuss Awards sponsors’ social media strategy
  • 1pm – meeting at the Awards venue (the Barbican Centre) to finalise catering and logistics
  • 3pm – meeting with Education Community Manager to discuss travel arrangements for student teams attending the Awards

As well as those meetings there is also a technology education chat taking place at 4:30pm on Twitter that I will have to do some research for beforehand. This topic is: “How has technology in education engaged students?” I have already sent an email to the Education Community Manager and the Head of Communications & Communities a few days ago to get some ideas that we could contribute to the discussion, so I’ll start by taking a look at those.

My first task is to go through the morning emails: press coverage, daily digest of education news and updates from the team. Any press coverage is saved and usually shared among the relevant team members. Our Managing Director was speaking at an event last night so there has been a lot of activity on the Apps for Good Twitter feed – I’ll check for new followers and retweet any messages we’ve received.

The meeting with the Business Development team has been really productive and I’ve now to put together a list of template tweets that our sponsors can use to publicise their support for the Awards. Finding the relevant names and remembering that all-important 140 character limit means this will take a couple of hours to do, so I’ll factor that into my diary for this week.

During the latter part of the morning I finish approving the press releases we’ve received from our PR agency to go out to local and regional newspapers where our Finalist teams are based. It’s really important to ensure we get all the names of the students correct and follow up any data protection requests we receive from parents.

My meeting at the Barbican Centre goes well and I’m sure the students will be delighted to hear that they will be getting pizza for their dinner! All the rooms have been booked that I requested and the venue manager has provided me with a detailed floor plan that I’ll use when allocating the staff team roles on the day. I’ll make sure that my discussions are fed into my catch up meeting with the Head of Communications and Communities tomorrow.

It’s then straight back to the office to meet with the Education Community Manager to discuss the travel arrangements for the student teams and their teachers. Our teams are coming from all across the UK – some as far as Wick in the Highlands – so we need to coordinate accommodation and travel for many of them and get this confirmed with the teachers.

My final task of the day is to participate in the Twitter chat on technology education. These discussions are always a great way to reach out to those within the education and technology sphere, as well as teachers who are increasingly using social media to link up with fellow educators. The overall discussion goes very well and we received a lot of interest in how schools can sign up to deliver our course and some new followers too.

It’s now 5:30pm and time to head home! It’s been a busy day however I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!

If you like the sound of this role, good news as we are currently recruiting for a new Communication & Events Officer! Apply here.

One of the secrets to the Apps for Good success – our team

At Apps for Good we have a lot to celebrate: our hundreds of dedicated Education Partners, thousands of inspiring students and our growing community of Expert volunteers. However none of these successes would be possible without the enthusiasm and passion that the Apps for Good team bring to the organisation.

What it’s like to work here

We’re a small but growing organisation of 17 divided into five teams: Business Development, Communications & Communities, Course Content, Finance & Operations and Online Platform. Team members have experience in a wide range of fields including teaching, public policy, technology and the voluntary sector and hail from all across the world: from Rio to Romania and Toronto to Texas – we have a real international group!

We aren’t tied to teams or hierarchy at Apps for Good: everyone has the chance to lead projects and work across the organisation and are encouraged to ask questions and make suggestions on how to improve the way we do things.

Our team is key to our on-going success

Our team is key to our on-going success

Our work spreads across the technology and voluntary sectors. This provides the perfect springboard to learn about the expanding start-up scene, as well as the latest in technology, education and the third sector.

Apps for Good is a charity with a start-up mind-set. Based in the centre of London’s tech scene, we don’t have a dress code so no sweaty Tube journeys, we have flexible working hours and you even get your birthday off so you don’t need to share that cake with everyone. We have an in-house tech team and our platform forms the backbone for everything we do. As we teach our students, we think about projects in terms of MVP and are always ready to pivot. We take risks and, well, sometimes make mistakes, but we always try to learn from these.

Problems you’ll solve

Since our launch in 2010, we have grown from working in just two centres in London to working with over 450 schools across the UK, from 50 students to 23,000 this year – and growing internationally this year. This is not only a massive opportunity for the organisation, but also a challenge to ensure that we’re growing in a way that doesn’t compromise the quality or impact of our work.

We never sit still as an organisation. We set ambitious targets, while working within charity-sized budgets, and always look to technology to help deliver these. The ed tech space is moving at a rapid pace, so we must ensure we’re always meeting the needs of our teachers and identifying what makes us unique. At the same time, we pride ourselves on building partnerships rather than creating rivals.

Through our online course, students get the opportunity to create their own app

Through our course, students get the opportunity to create their own app

We work with diverse audiences – from teachers and students to some of the biggest tech companies in the world. This means everything we do has to take into consideration their different interests and priorities, while also acting as a bridge to bring these communities together, which is where our impact is the greatest.

What makes us great

At Apps for Good, our mission is to change technology education, forever – that’s what drives our team forward and helps us achieve our ambitious targets. While we can’t offer jolly weekends in far-flung locations, we can give you the satisfaction of making a difference and facing challenges every day.

As part of a truly UK-wide organisation, we work with schools from as far north as the Orkney Islands all the way to Bude in Cornwall, so it’s little surprise we get a wide range of accents at the end of our phone every day! Even more exciting are our plans to work overseas, making us an international movement.

We aim to be a career-defining organisation. Staff can develop their own path within Apps for Good, leading the growth of their role by building skills and increasing capacity in a way that is interesting to them and helps with their day-to-day role.

Each year we bring our student finalists together at the Apps for Good Awards

Each year we bring our student finalists together at the Apps for Good Awards

From small, exciting start-ups to some of the world’s most established companies, at Apps for Good you work alongside some of the most creative and well-respected people in the technology and education spheres. Our current partners include Samsung, Google and Facebook, and we are proud and humbled of our list of Board members, advisers and Expert volunteers.

Who we look for

We teach our Apps for Good students to be problem-solvers, to be inquisitive and to always be ready to pivot. We value the same qualities within our team. We believe in a ‘can do’ approach, solving problems as a team and having a work/life balance. The result is an organisation that exceeds targets and achieves incredible growth whilst still socialising together at work or having a drink on a Friday evening.

We look for people who are passionate about the power of technology and education, who relish a challenge and who love working in a fast-moving environment. You don’t always need you to have direct experience in these fields, but you do need to have real enthusiasm for the Apps for Good mission.

There are currently several opportunities to join our growing team – click here and help us change technology education, forever.