In March 2012, Jon Bon Jovi, an American Legion New Jersey Boys State alumnus and famous rock musician, helped the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Innovation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launch Project REACH (real-time electronic access for caregivers and homeless) — a mobile app challenge to end homelessness. For the past seven years, Bon Jovi has been actively involved in ending poverty and homelessness as chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in Philadelphia.
The overall goal of the contest was for participants to create a free, user-friendly web and smartphone app that would connect available resources, such as shelters, health clinics, employment, counseling services and food banks, to those experiencing homelessness. The submissions were judged on four factors: sustainability, scalability, completeness and user experience. And on April 15, the $25,000 grand prize was awarded to Qbase, a technologies company in Reston, Va., which developed "Homeless REACH."
"Thanks to the VA, HUD, HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and the contest participants, we now have the application ‘Homeless REACH,’ which will aid resource providers and communities around the country in helping those in need," Bon Jovi said during a press conference announcing the contest winner.
The other four finalists included Binary Group of Arlington, Va.; John McCarthy of Forest Hills, N.Y.; J.J.AppCo. of Manchester, N.J.; and Makani Kai Tech of Kihei, Hawaii. Learn more about the finalists here.
"What’s important about Project REACH is that it shows how multiple government agencies, our colleagues HUD and HHS, can leverage one another’s strengths and pursue a shared mission," VA Deputy Secretary Scott Gould said during the press conference. "It also shows how enterprising non-government groups, like those in the homeless services community, philanthropic community and industry can be included in the goal of ending one of President Obama’s priorities (veteran homelessness by 2015) — that no one who wore our nation’s uniform should sleep on our nation’s streets."