Rising up in Atlanta, Ga., Neha Halebleed remembers seeing individuals experiencing homelessness and desirous to discover a means to assist out, regardless of by no means carrying money on her. As a rising school freshman, Halebleed developed a proposal for a cashless donation system, which she later submitted to the Reimagine Problem 2020 final fall. Out of 838 submissions, Halebleed was one of many 20 winners.
Whereas Halebleed — now a sophomore majoring in communication and specializing in utilized analytics and innovation — has lengthy wished to assist these experiencing homelessness, she stated the pandemic made her concept for a cashless donation system much more mandatory.
Because the coronavirus made individuals nervous to the touch surfaces, Halebleed wished to develop a touch-free resolution much like Venmo that would straight switch cash between individuals. She later realized not everybody had entry to a cell system to obtain funds, so she considered implementing QR codes.
“It’s good to know that folks assume that the concept is necessary as we transition to a cashless society, which has its challenges, particularly because it marginalizes sure communities — not simply individuals experiencing homlessness, but in addition undocumented [people] and likewise individuals who depend on money to pay much less taxes, comparable to small companies,” Halebleed stated.
After speaking together with her father, JP Halebleed, when she first had the concept of making a cashless donation system, he instructed her to look into firms already doing this. This led her to seek out Giving Streets.
Giving Streets is an app launched in Greece that permits customers to scan a QR code to donate on to a corporation. Halebleed stated she discovered the app as an answer to donate to the houseless inhabitants in the US, in hopes to encourage donations because the world strikes right into a cashless society. She messaged the founders of the app by means of LinkedIn two days after discovering the corporate, and defined her concept to deliver the app into U.S. app shops.
Halebleed’s father stated he’s happy with his daughter’s accomplishment and what she has accomplished up to now with Giving Streets. JP stated that when his daughter developed this undertaking simply earlier than her freshman yr at USC, he was there to ask her questions and get her considering.
“I [was] extra of a sounding board, I’d say. I’d [ask] questions loads … There are organizations that already [exist] … you don’t need to create one other group to do the identical factor,” JP stated.
In September, Halebleed stated she initially determined to enter the Reimagine Problem — a problem the place college college students submit options to actions or issues — after receiving an electronic mail about it from USC. After submitting a four-page quick proposal, she was invited again to a second spherical through which she wrote a 12-page proposal outlining her concept.
Halebleed proposed two phases in her paper. Stage one entails asking smaller companies to position QR codes round their space for people to donate by means of the Giving Streets app to a associate group serving to these experiencing homelessness. Stage two entails implementing QR codes related to particular individuals experiencing homelessness to obtain the cash straight.
Whereas Halebleed has reached out to a number of partnering organizations which have expressed curiosity within the first stage of her undertaking, the Weingartz Middle, a corporation that builds and supplies providers for individuals experiencing homelessness within the Los Angeles space, is her greatest associate up to now.
When reaching out to partnering organizations, Halebleed stated she arrange calls to debate her proposal and obtained suggestions from potential companions about implementing stage two.
“I need to hear enter [about stage two and donating directly to a person] — even when it’s unfavorable enter — as a result of I clearly don’t need to put one thing into existence that’s going to hurt the individuals I’m attempting to assist or the people who we’re attempting to assist,” Halebleed stated. “I feel the QR code resolution on to individuals could be very difficult, but in addition actually reliant on the place the individuals are positioned.”
For the second stage of her proposal, Halebleed additionally obtained assist from USC professors, comparable to Tom Sloper, professor of knowledge expertise, who helped outlined her plan for this undertaking, and Ali Rachel Pearl, who helped her take into consideration the undertaking’s moral implications.
Pearl was Halebleed’s professor final spring, and Halebleed reached out to her by means of electronic mail in October. Halebleed requested for assist with the legality of marketplaces for social enterprises and wished referrals to professionals within the cell cost or authorized industries.
“I stepped in and stated, ‘I feel earlier than you go to that stage, we should always take a step again and take into consideration the moral issues of this undertaking,’” Pearl stated. “‘Let’s truly discuss what this undertaking is doing in relation to the unhoused group in ways in which may probably be dangerous, although it’s supposed to be the other.’”
After Halebleed introduced her undertaking to Pearl, the 2 talked about design justice ideas, Halebleed’s method to group engagement, and mentioned books and different sources that could possibly be useful for Halebleed’s concept.
“I like how invested she is in utilizing her abilities to handle social points,” Pearl wrote in an electronic mail to the Day by day Trojan. “I hope she continues to be interested by essentially the most moral methods to handle the wants of a group she just isn’t a part of.”
Timothy Li, a part-time lecturer of knowledge expertise, is one other one in all Halebleed’s professors who offered steerage on her proposal. He stated he believes Halebleed’s undertaking deserves the eye of a wider viewers and that Halebleed will paved the way in delivering sources to these in want.
Whereas Halebleed is glad she may help generate sources for people experiencing homelessness, she acknowledges the difficulty itself stems from overarching issues comparable to systemic racism that require coverage adjustments past the scope of the app. Halebleed stated she hopes to have the Giving Streets App launched in the US by the tip of this yr, beginning with L.A. and later, Atlanta.
“[My] long-term purpose is for this enterprise to not exist as a result of that will imply that folks aren’t experiencing homelessness and that we’ve gotten to some extent the place everybody has a home,” Halebleed stated. “I don’t understand how lengthy that can take or if it’s going to occur in my lifetime, if it’ll occur earlier than the world dies out. However hopefully, in some unspecified time in the future, everybody has a home if they need one.”