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Thoughts on how tech can help society, from some Blue Ridge Labs startups

The Robin Hood Foundation heard from some of its tech startups on how they're changing the culture.

Jimmy Chen, cofounder of Propel, at the Robin Hood Foundation's Unplugged talk. (Photo courtesy of Robin Hood Foundation)

Three of Blue Ridge Labs’ startup founders explained how they tackle civic improvements at the Robin Hood Foundation’s “Unplugged” event this weekend.
“I try to stay away from the word disrupt because I think there’s a lot of work being done in the world [on these issues] and there’s a bit of arrogance that comes with the idea of toppling all that,” Margo Wright, the founder of college aid startup Yenko, said in a recap of the talk published on Medium.

“Unplugged” is a monthly talk with startup founders, experts and researchers from the Robin Hood Foundation, the “venture charity” founded by hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. Dumbo-based Blue Ridge is the tech arm of the foundation.

“The exciting thing about technology applied to the problems that we look at every day in government is that you get scale and you also get quick outcomes very quickly,” said Barbara Chang, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development.

Many programs and pilots are done in small, selected communities, and so scaling them is a much bigger ordeal normally, she explained.

“I always feel weird about that sexy solutions phrase because the problems that folks are going through in these communities aren’t sexy,” Jelani Anglin, cofounder of Good Call, said. “With Blue Ridge Labs and the focus on human centered design, it’s great to know that you are creating a solution that’s directly in line with what they need and not what’s sexy.”

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Series: Brooklyn

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