In Berkeley, there are numerous students from low-income backgrounds that frequently source groceries and other food items from the Berkeley Student Food Collective. Current social-distancing and shelter-in-place policies have caused the Berkeley Student Food Collective and many of these similar services and organizations in the Berkeley area to slow or cease operations. Furthermore, some of our team members have directly witnessed increased instances of domestic abuse, which limits a victim’s resources, network, and safe spaces, as a result of the shelter-in-place state mandates. Finally, not only has there been confusion among local communities, but the constant reports of people panic-buying groceries and other household amenities has thrown the availability of common necessities into jeopardy.

We were interested if similar problems were plaguing other communities, and through researching numerous current statistics and articles, found that many low-resource families are facing major problems associated with securing food, health care, utilities, and support. The problem is also most likely exacerbated by harm to local businesses and current job-loss trends.


We were inspired by the Berkeley Community Help Doc, a short-lived Google Sheet where local students would list resources they found or provided, as well as the many communities and groups across the globe that have been attempting to do something similar. We sought inspiration from European food-waste-reduction and volunteer-delivery services, like Fikk, Pool Farm, HelpingHands, and Karma.

However, we noticed an extreme disconnect in well-intentioned initiatives and a lack of central organization; an oversaturation of tiny databases for different resources made finding exactly what you needed extremely difficult.

We decided to model our centralized platform, the COVID Collective, after the Berkeley spreadsheet, in order to connect people who would contribute their resources to those who are in need - those who are most impacted by necessary pandemic policies.

What We Used

For wireframing, user flow, and design prototyping, we turned to Adobe Illustrator and Adobe XD for logo and application mockups.

We wanted our logo to represent the community bond grown as a result of the pandemic response, and to show how our app, centralizing all resources, will surpass all previous attempts at a community-driven hub. Therefore, although the silhouette is initially based on the coronavirus shape, a facade resembling humans connected via a global network emerged. With the aid of a welcoming handshake icon in the center, the symbolic meaning of the logo became much more apparent.

For our app, we wanted to integrate all of the functionality we desired out of the smaller spreadsheets and lists found around the internet. Therefore, we decided to build a quasi-social-media app that incorporated aspects of Ebay, Craigslist, and Uber. We wanted a Marketplace section for the local community to create listings as well as claim them. A heavily-filterable Map section needed to come, with us populating it with the pre-existing databases of resources, as well as identifying the locations of the Market section’s listings. This ultimately led to the decision for in-app Chat functionality for quick communication, as well as Ebay-styled ratings for Marketplace sellers. Finally, we wanted a final, searchable section that listed out all the resources related to COVID-19.

To address any privacy concerns for our app, we have opted to utilize Dataswift personal data accounts. This will enable all future users to create their own PDA's ensuring that we have data responsibility and follow regulation.

What We Wanted

Upon developing this centralized platform for people to help low-resource and low-income populations affected by the social impacts of coronavirus, the social impacts include:

  • Accessible resources / products families typically acquire from donation platforms
  • Cheaper / free sources of groceries and food
  • Places like Berkeley Food Collective have been shut down
  • Marketplace service for people to donate things to families / individuals in need
  • Modeled after Craigslist
  • Target population: low-resource low-income populations
  • Mapping service:


We recognized several challenges in our model:

  • Contradictions with social distancing -> we aim to continue to remind our users to maintain good hygiene practice, circumventing any suggestions of touch-interaction given by the handshaking logo.
  • Target population and limited digital access -> we aim to make our platform accessible online, but we are leaving behind low-resource families and individuals that don’t have ANY access to online resources -> aim to organize community-wide events in conjunction with public-health or medical officials to collect and redistributing resources -> with good social distancing precautions.

We definitely grew in our expertise on different areas of hacking. Given that we are all not well-versed in programming languages, we made as much progress as we could in the skillsets we already had. This included pitch decks, research, and UX design. We learned a lot in finding credible, timely sources to identify a very real (and less-addressed) problem that had big pain points. We wanted to build something to address this that aligned with current public health initiatives, while including this significant portion of the population. This also brought a lot of challenges regarding collaboration and communication over remote work, in different time zones. Thankfully, we were able to come together, find a common ground, and narrow our focus into a finetuned issue that was a current side effect of the pandemic.


Google Maps API Challenge: integrating this in the prototype costs a lot of money, AND the plugin for Adobe XD was defunct after Google modified its Maps API anyways. In place of the full embedded Google Maps API, we took a screenshot of a custom map created in MapBox Studio, matching our color scheme and allowing testers to understand exactly what we were aiming to have.

We aim to continue down this path, enter current databases, and partner with pre-existing services to provide the perfect centralized platform for all low-income and low-resource victims of the pandemic.

We have gained traction in previous hackathon submissions:

  • COVID Hacks
  • Pandemic Response Hackathon
  • HackCOVID-3 We are hoping to capitalize on these avenues of outreach to get developers who can volunteer some of their time to help us create a real app!


  • CheckUpOn.Me
    • We have been welcomed by dev Alex Vanino to share resources, gain advice and mentorship, and develop in parallel.
  • Reach4Help
    • As a part of Helpful Engineering, we are grateful to be working with the multiple founders in order to eventually integrate this concept in an overall production.
  • Networked.Community
    • We are talking with Berin Iwlew, the project lead, to find common ground and get both of our programs off the ground.

Built With

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