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Sophomore Wins Prize to Support New App to Match Student Volunteers and Social Causes

CSE sophomore Sneha Jayaprakash (at right) is passionate about two things: computer science, and social change. As part of the 2013 Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest, she developed a winning proposal for a mobile app to engage students with volunteerism and social issues – and Jayaprakash walked away with a $2,500 prize to get the project going with six fellow computer science majors. The prize money is in addition to $10,000 awarded to the project by the Microsoft Imagine Fund in February, so the team is revving up to turn the idea into a successful startup. “I’ve always been passionate about global issues,” said Jayaprakash. “I wanted to show people that volunteer service is easy. You don’t have to go overseas or make a big commitment. There are simple things you can do every day to make a difference.”

The winning idea is a mobile app called Bystanders to Upstanders (B2U). Jayaprakash’s app presents simple, service-related challenges for users to complete in order to earn rewards. The challenges are personalized to the interests and skills of the participant. In addition, users can compete with their friends and use their earned points to make real donations to a variety of nonprofits. “I thought, ‘this is something unique we can do with our computer science education,’” said Jayaprakash. “Most people don’t associate computer science with social activism.” Added Winnie Xu, also a computer science student, who worked on the B2U app. “To be able to take what I’m learning in class and apply it to something I’m passionate about is really gratifying.”

Read the full news release. 
Watch a YouTube video interview with Challenge for Change winner Sneha Jayaprakash.