San Francisco’s Tech, Entrepreneur, Design Talent and Tenderloin Community Come Together to Improve Lives of Residents During Collaboration Weekend

  •  Apr 27, 2012
  •  Press Release

The Creative Currency Initiative, A Partnership Between The Hub Bay Area, GAFFTA, City of San Francisco And American Express, Rethinks Existing Social Tools For An Under-Served Demographic

SAN FRANCISCO, Apr. 27 /CSRwire/ – Collaboration Weekend, which kicks-off tonight and runs through Sunday, brings together some of the City’s brightest technologists and entrepreneurs with established members of the Tenderloin District to develop new community-driven tools that will help make aspects of residents’ lives more efficient, creating greater opportunity for economic improvement. The Weekend serves as the launch event of Creative Currency, a six-month initiative produced by the digital culture nonprofit, Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) and the social enterprise convener and incubator, The Hub Bay Area, in partnership with The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, and American Express. More than one hundred City residents will convene and break-off into project teams to brainstorm and develop solutions for Mid-Market. The initiative will continue beyond the weekend with a public Demo Day planned for August. Top projects will continue development over a six-month period allowing for further solidification, integration into the community or evolving into operating independent initiatives.

“San Francisco is known as the Innovation Capital of the World’,” said Jay Nath, Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Francisco, “yet there are concentrated populations within our own city that don’t have access to the very digital tools that most of us have become so accustomed to.”

Many San Francisco residents probably can’t remember life before the existence of mobile apps to help them find the fastest route to a destination, or using computers or ATMs to retrieve information and execute financial transactions. But many Tenderloin residents wake up at 4 a.m. just to begin their search for the next night’s bed.

“The causes of poverty are many and far-reaching, and any step towards facilitating better care and support for the people who need it most is progress for all of us. Technologies that respond to the unique diversity and complex challenges faced by our residents hold great potential for affecting positive change in our communities.” said Lillian Mark, Operations Manager, Community Building Division at GLIDE Foundation, a community organization working in the Tenderloin for more than 45 years.

To ensure that projects developed are relevant to and informed by the local community, the Creative Currency team conducted in-depth interviews with 16 local service organizations and nonprofits, and surveyed 37 businesses and 155 residents over two months. This extensive community outreach is the first of its kind for a hackathon-style event, and an evolution of GAFFTA’s experience connecting technology solutions to social issues and neighborhood challenges in Mid-Market. Participants in this weekend’s Collaboration Weekend had access to the brief in advance to familiarize themselves with the community’s unique needs and start brainstorming ideas. The HUB Bay Area’s history of accelerating enterprises focused on delivering both social and financial returns, will bring business development and ROI expertise to project teams.

“After years of fostering these types of innovative collaborations, we’ve found the best solutions emerge from teams that are diverse, inclusive and locally driven,” said Josette Melchor, Co-Founder and Executive Director of GAFFTA. “Building on the community’s input and institutional knowledge is essential for us to help build tech-based tools that are useful and meaningful to local residents.”

Creative Currency will also draw on new concepts that are already transforming systems of exchange in both the U.S. and abroad including peer-to-peer sharing, crowdfunding platforms and alternative currency, among others. American Express’ Serve technology, one such alternative payment system, will be available for participants to incorporate into their projects.

“We believe there is tremendous potential for mobile money to help serve different income levels,” said Dan Schulman, American Express’ president of enterprise growth. “Together with our partners, we plan to support, mentor and evolve unique prototypes that will be truly impactful to residents of San Francisco’s Mid-Market.”

Ideas resulting from this weekend will have opportunities for a portion of $15,000 in seed funding to support development of their projects. Mentors from the areas of business, investment, technology, design and community development will be available to participants throughout the initiative, starting with on-site input at Collaboration Weekend. Project teams will have opportunities to showcase their work to the public at Demo Day in August and among peers at SOCAP 12 in San Francisco on October 1-4, 2012.

“Through the broad set of relationships represented in our collaboration we hope to nurture projects and partnerships in the community that will serve its residents for years to come,” said The Hub Bay Area’s CEO, Cory Smith.

For more information, to access the Community Brief and to see some of the ideas proposed to address the unique challenges of Tenderloin residents, visit www.creative-currency.org.

About HUB Bay Area
HUB Bay Area is a place-based membership community that develops and deploys solutions for a better world. Hubs exist in more than 20 international locations and Hub Bay Area consists of San Francisco and Berkeley, soon to be expanding into Oakland and Silicon Valley. Aspiring people find the support they need at the HUB to reach their goals faster in a community that makes everyone smarter and more effective. Existing organizations establish satellite presences at the HUB to join the community and create value-exchange. The HUB Bay Area is designing workspaces, events, education, and media as tools to drive acceleration and collaboration.

About Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA)
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA) is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to furthering the use and advancement of creative technology for social good. In this capacity, we maintain relationships with the world’s top academic researchers, innovative corporations, visionary artists, and civic leaders. By continually engaging and connecting this diverse community with challenges and opportunities, we extract forward-thinking technological solutions with proven capacity to create positive change.

About The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation
The City and County of San Francisco is recognized the world over for its innovative spirit. From our leadership on medical care with the country’s first universal healthcare program to our recent ban on plastic bags, we often set the pace for the rest of the nation.

In the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, our mission is to introduce new ideas and approaches to solve long-standing challenges. We believe that government needs to think like a lean startup: agile, scrappy and customer-focused.

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more atamericanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress,foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express,twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.