Monthly Archives: March 2012


JBJ Soul Foundation Partners to Launch Developer Challenge

Challenge Calls for Application That Will Provide Real-Time Info & Connect Providers of Homeless Services

Five Finalists To Ultimately Pilot Their Mobile Applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen


Photo: From the Soul Kitchen, where the project REACH developer challenge was announced today, Jon Bon Jovi demonstrates how efficiently a care provider will be able to access information about other resources for those in need.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching the new contest in collaboration with the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the lives of people facing economic challenges. The Soul Foundation operates the JBJ Soul Kitchen – a community restaurant in Monmouth County, N.J., where competing apps will be tested.
The challenge asks developers for an easy to use, mobile/web application to connect service providers and offer real-time information about resources for the homeless and others in need. The first five entries to meet the requirements enumerated in detail below and at will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the opportunity to test their app at the JBJ Soul Kitchen. The winner will receive a $25,000 prize.

“At the Soul Kitchen we’ve seen the need for a simple, user-friendly, comprehensive application that connects those in need to resources in their community. As we sought out a solution to resolve the disconnect, we found the VA, HUD and HHS to be of like mind. Together we can provide the information about existing services – now we need the bright minds in the developer community to create a platform to tie it all together” said Jon Bon Jovi, musician, Chairman of the JBJ Soul Foundation and White House Council Member.

“This contest taps the talent and deep compassion of the Nation’s developer community,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We are asking them to make a free, easy-to-use Web and smartphone app that provides current information about housing, health clinics and food banks.”

“Last year’s 12 percent drop in Veterans homelessness shows the results of President Obama’s and the whole administration’s commitment to ending Veterans homelessness,” said Secretary of House and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. “I want to thank Jon Bon Jovi for being a part of that effort and for using competition and innovation to advance the cause of ending homelessness.”

The ultimate goal of the contest is to create a national platform that enables health clinics, food kitchens, housing services and shelters to update availability of key services automatically on the Internet. The winning app will collect, map, and electronically distribute that information for communities across the nation.

Five finalists will pilot their mobile applications at JBJ Soul Kitchen, where diners can cover the cost of their meals either through donation or volunteer service.

The contest will be conducted in two phases. Finalists will be judged primarily on their ability to dynamically update information about housing and shelter near JBJ Soul Kitchen. Basic performance criteria is described in

Additionally, competitors must also be able to display information about local VA services, employment support, crisis hotlines and local legal assistance resources.

“Putting this information in the hands of those who can help will make a tremendous difference in the life of a homeless Veteran or anyone who experiences homelessness,” said Jonah Czerwinski, director of the VA Innovation Initiative.

**About Jon Bon Jovi: **
Jon Bon Jovi’s work salutes the principles that define our nation. Self-reliance, optimism and community are key concepts he embodies in his music and in his charitable efforts.
Jon Bon Jovi is Chairman of The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which establishes programs and partnerships that aim to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness “one Soul at a time.” To date Jon Bon Jovi and the Soul Foundation have provided affordable housing for hundreds of low-income individuals and families. In December 2010, President Obama appointed Jon Bon Jovi to the White House Council for Community Solutions, which seeks to understand and assist vulnerable youth find pathways to success.

Musically, Bon Jovi has set the bar for nearly three decades as one of the world’s most successful rock bands. Globally, the Grammy winning band has sold over 130 million albums, consistently delivered #1 albums and Top Ten hits and performed more than 2,600 concerts in over 50 countries for upwards of 34 million fans.

About the Soul Foundation and the JBJ Soul Kitchen:
Since 2006, the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation has existed to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. Through the funding and creation of programs and partnerships, we support innovative community efforts to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. It is the organization’s goal to recognize and maximize the human potential in those affected by poverty and homelessness by offering assistance in establishing programs that provide food and affordable housing while supporting social services and job training programs. Our goal is to assist with rebuilding pride in one’s self and one’s community – one SOUL at a time.
The JBJ Soul Kitchen serves nutritious, culinary dishes in a lovely restaurant atmosphere to diners who either contribute volunteer hours or a minimum donation for their meals. The Soul Kitchen operates as a program of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and began serving meals in pilot locations in 2009 to assess patrons’ needs. The permanent location – housed in a renovated 1,100 square foot former auto-body shop – opened in October 2011. Diners in need are empowered at the Soul Kitchen – they have earned a seat at the table for themselves and their families through volunteer hours. On the other hand, patrons who can afford a donation are rewarded not only with a delicious meal but with the knowledge that they’ve contributed to their community.


SummerQAmp Movement to Create Internships at Leading Tech Companies

We recognize that youth are the future and that by reconnecting youth to jobs, skill training and /or education pathways they will have a brighter future. With this as background we are excited about the opportunities this Summer QAmp program, a commitment to the White House Summer Jobs+ initiative, presents to youth across the country. Jon was instrumental in having this program come to fruition and believes that “the kind of on-the-job training that SummerQAmp aims to provide can create pathways to career opportunities in technology and a brighter future”.

For more information on the Summer QAmp program, please see the official press release below and visit their website.

SummerQAmp Movement to Create Internships at Leading Tech Companies

Official Press Release:

**SummerQAmp Movement to Create Internships at Leading Tech Companies **
The White House, Jon Bon Jovi, CK-12 Foundation, GroupMe, Gilt Groupe, Onswipe and Other Tech Companies Join Forces to Promote Quality Assurance as a Career Opportunity

NEW YORK – March 7, 2012 – Today marks the launch of SummerQAmp, a nationwide initiative to train a new workforce in high-tech skills and help create tech jobs for American youth. It was developed as a commitment to the White House’s Summer Jobs+ initiative, a call to action for businesses, non-profits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth this summer. SummerQAmp is being led by former CTO of the White House Aneesh Chopra, musician Jon Bon Jovi, GroupMe co-founder Steve Martocci, Gilt Groupe’s Vice President of Quality Engineering Kevin Haggard and Onswipe CEO Jason Baptiste.

SummerQAmp’s mission is to help keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation by creating tech jobs in America. Specifically, it will promote awareness for Quality Assurance (QA) as a career opportunity by inviting leading U.S. software companies to offer QA internships this summer to those without formal technical training. SummerQAmp’s goal is to help create at least 1,000 QA internships this summer alone.

“For many people, QA isn’t necessarily a job you go to school for. It’s something you learn on the job,” said Steve Martocci. “I started working closely with the QA team at Gilt and went on to found GroupMe, where our QA team is a critical part of our success. Now I want to inspire others to explore QA as a career, so I’m inviting entrepreneurs and other technology companies to sign our pledge and commit to offering QA internships this summer.”

“Quality Assurance is an important role to ensure your favorite mobile apps and software programs work properly. While there is demand to find Quality Engineers in the U.S., it is difficult to find individuals with experience since it is not taught in school or recognized as a career opportunity,” said Kevin Haggard, Vice President of Quality Engineering at Gilt Groupe. “I am very excited about SummerQAmp because it gives us an opportunity to introduce QA to those students who will be entering the workforce over the next few years. This initiative will help us fill these QA position in the U.S. instead of sending them abroad.”

“SummerJobs+ and SummerQAmp educate and train young people who might not ordinarily consider a career in technology,” said Jon Bon Jovi, who is known for his efforts to help empower at-risk youth. “On behalf of the White House Council for Community Solutions, I support SummerJobs+ and their mission to empower youth who are presently disconnected from education, jobs, and career opportunities. The kind of on-the-job training that SummerQAmp aims to provide can create pathways to career opportunities in technology and a brighter future.”

In addition to creating internships, SummerQAmp is partnering with the CK-12 Foundation to develop and launch an online educational resource later this year where youth can learn more about the role of QA in the development of the hundreds of thousands of smartphone apps available today. This site will include a career guide and listings of the QA internship roles available at tech companies across the country. There will also be an online course that introduces SummerQAmp participants to software development, in addition to an educational genome that can help direct students down the right path to learn more about different software careers (e.g., IT, engineering, QA, etc).

“Learning to code is intimidating and foreign to many and may not be the best first step with regards to software development careers for some people, especially the youth being targeted with Summer Jobs+,” said Neeru Khosla, founder of the CK-12 Foundation. “On the other hand, a Web-based educational component to reach the hundreds of thousands of people who are interested in QA and software development is a very powerful initial step towards learning programming. What can bring more clarity to learning than being able to critique it?”

The leaders of the SummerQAmp movement have already reached out to their network in the tech world to invite them to participate by opening up QA internships this summer. To date, some of the notable tech companies that have taken the pledge to participate include Boxee, the CK-12 Foundation, eBay, GroupMe, Gilt Groupe and Onswipe. In addition, a number of other tech companies, investors and non-profits, such as JIBE, Knewton, SV Angel and Fiver Children’s Foundation, are helping to develop and guide the growth of the SummerQAmp movement.

To be counted among the companies that are committing to create tech jobs in America this summer, visit There, you’ll be able to learn more about the SummerQAmp movement and to take the pledge committing to create a QA internship within your organization.