Hacking For Single Mothers And Kids In Poverty

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One of MongoDB's core values is "Build Together," and that value is one that reaches outside the company too. We saw that value embodied in the Femisphere Codeswitch, which is one of the many reasons we were proud sponsors of the event that brought single mothers and coders together to build apps.

Single mothers and their children make up 77% of households living in poverty in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, according to the Women and Girls Foundation. Let that sink in — 77% of the people in poverty in Pittsburgh are single mothers and their children.

Single mothers are busy. Really busy. They’re trying to navigate jobs, putting themselves through school, parenting, making sure their kids get to where they need to be, and maybe, possibly, taking a little time for themselves. Finding time to look for the resources they need can be a struggle.

Building Together

The Femisphere Codeswitch aimed to make the process of finding resources just a little bit easier. April 5th to the 8th, single mothers and coders gathered together to build apps that will help single mothers easily find the resources they need to manage their daily needs and build a pathway out of poverty.

What was so unique about this event was the emphasis was on building apps with single mothers — not simply for them. Throughout the event, local single mothers were available as consultants so that teams could discuss their ideas, mockups, and prototypes with them. This process ensured that the resulting apps actually met the needs of mothers.

MongoDB was a proud sponsor of the event. One of our core values is “Build Together.” We believe that we’ll achieve amazing things by connecting and leveraging people with diverse skills, experiences, and backgrounds — and this hackathon embodied that value through every phase.

Additionally, MongoDB employees provided training and consulting on how teams could use MongoDB Atlas (MongoDB’s database-as-a-service) and MongoDB Stitch (a platform for enabling developers to build better applications, faster) to rapidly build their apps in only two days.

The Winning App

MongoDB presented a prize for the best use of Atlas and Stitch. The team who won also tied for first-place overall! So who are they? Meet the Hidden Gems team: Greg Hopkins (Lead Application Developer at TrademarkVision and member of the 412 Food Rescue Technology Board), Anthony Levin-Decanini (Product Manager at 412 Food Rescue), and Kevin Sapp (Software Engineer at Uber ATG). They worked together to build an app to help mothers find relevant recommendations for services. What set their app apart is that it provides recommendations based on each mother’s individual values. For example, a mother could indicate she values businesses owned by a female or that a service is LGBT friendly, and the app’s recommendations reflected those values.

I had a chance to talk with the Hidden Gems team about how they developed their app. They leveraged Stitch’s built-in authentication and access rules to secure their app quickly and simply.

The Hidden Gems team also leveraged Stitch QueryAnywhere to query the data they were storing in Atlas from their frontend code. Greg said, “We were going to write a backend, and then we realized, oh sh**, we didn’t need to!” Stitch’s QueryAnywhere capability provided everything they needed in order to interact with their data.

Greg went on to say how helpful Stitch was in building their app under such a time crunch: “This is the perfect rapid app development tool. I’ll definitely use it again.”

While Greg and Anthony had some prior experience with MongoDB, their teammate Kevin did not. His lack of experience didn’t slow him down even though he wrote many of the queries for the app. “I’ve never used MongoDB before, and I was able to write the queries I needed just by looking at the documentation.”

The winning apps will continue to be developed and then distributed throughout the greater Pittsburgh area for single mothers to use. We’re thrilled that MongoDB could be part of a solution to build a pathway out of poverty for single mothers!