In a course about how the world's grandest challenges are being faced, the DevelUP team was inspired to make the world a better place. After weeks of discussion about power imbalances, the white savior complex, and communities suffering due to the unintended consequences of foreign aid intervention, the team brainstormed a way to make a tangible difference. We wanted to shift power to developing communities by providing them with a platform to communicate directly with the organizations that can help them.

Often, the communities with the most need have the least opportunity to source outside help. Our service provides a free means of connecting communities with project proposals to organizations looking to do good.

Project proposers from communities make post their issues online following a specified format. This post includes the name of project, location, language of work, sector, a description Partner organizations can search through project proposals to find projects that they will be most able to help. They can then send a message and start communicating with the project proposer. When they both feel confident in working with each other, the project proposer can change the status of their project from ‘open’ to ‘in progress’. Project updates and be posted to keep the DevelUP community informed and provide inspiration and reference to other projects. When the development project is complete, the project can be closed.

This platform can also be used for members of the same community to organize into a unified front. Communities can also communicate with other communities that are facing similar challenges in order to share knowledge for finding solutions.

As four students with little to no background in coding, we started by learning the basics. On Friday night, the first question we asked the experienced software engineers of SEP was, “What is github?” After a couple of confused expressions and a long pause, they quickly realized we were new to this, but they were eager to help. They gave us valuable advice and after that, we were off to the races.

With Github in place, it was time to get to the meat and bones of our project. Two team members worked on learning HTML, while the other two team members attempted to understand JavaScript and React.

After three hours on Codecademy, we had a basic understanding of HTML, but how were we going to create a functional, aesthetic website? We could create blank web pages with pictures and videos of bears (following Codecademy’s instructions), but how were we going to create a service which matched parties based on search algorithms? The fact of the matter was that we weren’t. There simply was not enough time. To compound our frustration, our other two team members spent two hours simply trying to run a React file--keep in mind, we still only vaguely understand what React is.

We detached from the situation and attended a talk by representatives from The Anvil. After a group meeting, we shifted gears and decided to attack something that would allow us to create a specific deliverable. We decided to create a mock website to demonstrate our idea using Figma.

Figma allowed us to create an interactive mock-up that would highlight some of the important features of our concept. While we were not able to create every page we intend DevelUP to have in the future, the mock-up acts as a visual aid to help us pitch our idea to interested parties.

What’s next for DevelUP? Following BoilerMake, we plan to conduct user research by talking to local non-profits about their day-to-day needs and how DevelUP could be incorporated into their strategy to optimize their community impact. Additionally, we will work with the Anvil and other Purdue resources to flesh out our business plan in order to make this a viable product of social entrepreneurship.

Though we had no idea what to expect for this weekend, we are thrilled with the knowledge we’ve gained this weekend and are excited to use our new knowledge of software development and mockup design as a jumping-off point to make our idea into a reality.

Big thanks to Zach Johnson, Chase Schweitzer,and the guys from SEP for their patience and support throughout the weekend. Thanks also to Akash and Shubh from The Anvil for their time and advice.

Built With

  • figma
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