(March 19, 2012 – Red Bank, NJ) – On behalf of the JBJ Soul Foundation, Jon Bon Jovi, who is also a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, today joined W. Scott Gould, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on a media teleconference to announce a developer challenge called Project REACH (Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless).
Challenge Calls for Application That Will Provide Real-Time Info & Connect Providers of Homeless Services
Five Finalists To Ultimately Pilot Their Mobile Applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen
Photo: From the Soul Kitchen, where the project REACH developer challenge was announced today, Jon Bon Jovi demonstrates how efficiently a care provider will be able to access information about other resources for those in need.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching the new contest in collaboration with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of people facing economic challenges. The Soul Foundation operates the JBJ Soul Kitchen - a community restaurant in Monmouth County, N.J., where competing apps will be tested. The challenge asks developers for an easy to use, mobile/web application to connect service providers and offer real-time information about resources for the homeless and others in need. The first five entries to meet the requirements enumerated in detail below and at www.challenge.gov will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at the JBJ Soul Kitchen. The winner will receive a $25,000 prize.
“At the Soul Kitchen we’ve seen the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that connects those in need to resources in their community. As we sought out a solution to resolve the disconnect, we found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Together we can provide the information about existing services – now we need the bright minds in the developer community to create a platform to tie it all together” said Jon Bon Jovi, musician, Chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation and White House Council Member.
“This contest taps the talent and deep compassion of the Nation’s developer community,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We are asking them to make a free, easy-to-use Web and smartphone app that provides current information about housing, health clinics and food banks.”
“Last year’s 12 percent drop in Veterans homelessness shows the results of President Obama’s and the whole administration's commitment to ending Veterans homelessness,” said Secretary of House and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. “I want to thank Jon Bon Jovi for being a part of that effort and for using competition and innovation to advance the cause of ending homelessness.”
The ultimate goal of the contest is to create a national platform that enables health clinics, food kitchens, housing services and shelters to update availability of key services automatically on the Internet. The winning app will collect, map, and electronically distribute that information for communities across the nation.
Five finalists will pilot their mobile applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen, where diners can cover the cost of their meals either through donation or volunteer service.
The contest will be conducted in two phases. Finalists will be judged primarily on their ability to dynamically update information about housing and shelter near JBJ Soul Kitchen. Basic performance criteria is described in www.challenge.gov
Additionally, competitors must also be able to display information about local VA services, employment support, crisis hotlines and local legal assistance resources.
“Putting this information in the hands of those who can help will make a tremendous difference in the life of a homeless Veteran or anyone who experiences homelessness,” said Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA Innovation Initiative.
About Jon Bon Jovi: Jon Bon Jovi’s work salutes the principles that define our nation. Self-reliance, optimism and community are key concepts he embodies in his music and in his charitable efforts. Jon Bon Jovi is Chairman of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which establishes programs and partnerships that aim to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness “one Soul at a time.” To date Jon Bon Jovi and the Soul Foundation have provided affordable housing for hundreds of low-income individuals and families. In December 2010, President Obama appointed Jon Bon Jovi to the White House Council for Community Solutions, which seeks to understand and assist vulnerable youth find pathways to success.
Musically, Bon Jovi has set the bar for nearly three decades as one of the world’s most successful rock bands. Globally, the Grammy winning band has sold over 130 million albums, consistently delivered #1 albums and Top Ten hits and performed more than 2,600 concerts in over 50 countries for upwards of 34 million fans.
About the Soul Foundation and the JBJ Soul Kitchen: Since 2006, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has existed to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, we support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. It is the organization's goal to recognize and maximize the human potential in those affected by poverty and homelessness by offering assistance in establishing programs that provide food and affordable housing while supporting social services and job training programs. Our goal is to assist with rebuilding pride in one's self and one's community - one SOUL at a time. The JBJ Soul Kitchen serves nutritious, culinary dishes in a lovely restaurant atmosphere to diners who either contribute volunteer hours or a minimum donation for their meals. The Soul Kitchen operates as a program of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and began serving meals in pilot locations in 2009 to assess patrons’ needs. The permanent location – housed in a renovated 1,100 square foot former auto-body shop – opened in October 2011. Diners in need are empowered at the Soul Kitchen – they have earned a seat at the table for themselves and their families through volunteer hours. On the other hand, patrons who can afford a donation are rewarded not only with a delicious meal but with the knowledge that they’ve contributed to their community.