Information for Prospective Partnering Organizations

Our club connects bright, motivated Harvard students interested in technology with organizations dedicated to bettering society, or Social Benefit Organizations (SBOs).  Through our Social Innovation Projects (SIP) initiative, students spend a semester working (for free) on technical projects for SBOs.  Students gain valuable technical and teamwork skills, and organizations gain access to software development expertise for a semester.  If your organization has a technical project that could help you make a greater impact and you don't wish to pay a high cost for software developers, you've come to the right place.  Please read the below information to learn more about what we do, and then feel free to submit the interest form here or send us an email at harvardd4d@gmail.com.

what are partnering organizations?

We welcome collaboration with any organization dedicated to benefiting society.  Each semester, we partner with organizations which need help building a technical project (see below for more on technical projects).  In the past, we've worked with nonprofits, research labs, students with compelling ideas, and for-profit companies with sufficiently compelling missions. 

What kinds of projects do we build?

Our organization focuses on projects that can be created using technology, perhaps by building a web platform or writing an app.  Below, we've listed a few key criteria we use for determining whether we think a project can be successful.  Please note that as a student organization, we cannot make guarantees about software security; therefore, we can only build prototypes of software that involves financial transactions or sensitive user data.

If you read our guidelines and still aren't sure whether your project fits, please feel free to submit an interest form or write to us at harvardd4d@gmail.com.   We'd be more than happy to discuss collaboration with you further.

  1. Our projects generally involve working with the web, apps, or data analysis.  Students do best when they work with paradigms they know, like the web, apps, or data analysis.    However, if your project doesn't perfectly fit into any of these categories, we would still be happy to hear about it to assess whether we think it could work.  More explicitly, we like projects that can be:
    1. Implemented as a web-platform.  Such projects will appear in the browser, such as an online school check-in system, or an online database connecting refugee service providers.
    2. Implemented as an app.  For example, a compelling project might be an app that notifies emergency responders when an emergency has been detected.
    3. Centered around data analytics.  Such projects may use large datasets to track trends, extract metrics to measure organizational success, or otherwise involve interesting analyses of data.
  2. We like projects that help the partnering organization to make a greater impact.  Many students join our program because they want to use their technical prowess to do something good.  Hence, these students are most motivated by projects which increase the partnering organization's ability to make an impact.  However, we also understand that impact may be achieved indirectly, and so we therefore appreciate both organizations with projects that obviously impact people as well as organizations that can provide a clear and convincing argument about how a project with indirect impact will be beneficial to their core mission.
  3. Projects should be challenging but achievable.   We find that maintaining student engagement requires projects which are challenging but achievable within a semester's time.  Projects that are too basic will lose student interest.  These can include projects which are primarily centered around implementing small changes to an existing website, designing a website that is purely informational, or updating social media pages.  On the other hand, projects which are unmanageable within a semester will lead to disappointment for students and partnering organizations.  We have experience assessing whether a project is too simplistic or unachievable, so please reach out to us for advice.

project examples

Below are two examples of successful projects that SIP teams have taken on in the past.  We hope that they can serve as guidance to understand what SIP teams are capable of accomplishing.

  • Attendance website for the Moringa School.  A team developed a web-based attendance system for the Moringa School, a software development school located in Nairobi, Kenya.  The website was built to allow students to check into class when they were located on campus, and to allow teachers to check the attendance for students in their classes. 
  • Resource management system for teen refugees.  Refugee aid organizations best serve refugees when they are able to collectively coordinate their efforts and provide all the services that a refugee needs (housing, legal services, food, etc.).  Our team built a web-based system which can notify all nearby refugee aid organizations when a new refugee visits an aid organization.  Additionally, our team worked to develop functionality to allow refugee aid organizations to share relevant data with each other about refugees accessing their services.

fall 2018 timeline for partnering organizations

UPDATE: 9/8/18

  1. September 17th - Interest form due. Please submit our interest form by September 17th to ensure that we can discuss a potential collaboration with your organization.  We will be accepting collaborations on a rolling basis, so the earlier you submit our form the better chance you have of collaborating with us, since we have limited capacity.
  2. September 19th - All decisions finalized.  All collaborations for the Fall 2018 term will be finalized by September 19th.
  3. September 22nd - Partnering organizations will be introduced to student teams.  All project managers (PMs), the leaders of the student teams, will be introduced over email to contacts at the partnering organizations.
  4. September 23rd - Work will begin on projects. 
  5. Late September through late November - Project managers will submit weekly reports to partnering organizations detailing their teams' progress.  More information about our accountability process will be provided at a later date.
  6. Late November - SIP teams will turn over their work to partnering organizations.  This is the conclusion of our Fall 2018 SIPs!  All Boston-based organization contacts will be invited to our SIP showcase, a culminating presentation of the work that students have accomplished over the course of the semester.

questions?

If you are ready to submit an interest form, please do so by clicking this link: https://goo.gl/forms/EbLkjyqd9fghXzzw2.  If you have any questions, you can reach out to us at harvardd4d@gmail.com.  Thank you, and we look forward to discussing collaboration with you!