NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - October 16, 2015) - At an event at the Robin Hood Foundation yesterday seven teams competed for three spots in the Catalyst incubator at Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood. A prominent panel of judges declared Heat Seek NYC, JustFix.NYC, and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine the winners, which means they'll now have access to six months of funding, co-working space, and other support. Blue Ridge Labs is part of the Robin Hood Foundation -- NYC's largest poverty-fighting organization -- and Catalyst is a new program that gives promising young social ventures support to help them take root and grow.

"Through Blue Ridge Labs, Robin Hood is exploring how best to harness technology's transformative power to fight poverty in New York," said John Griffin, Robin Hood board member and founder and president of Blue Ridge Capital. "With the Catalyst program specifically, we're supporting the development of new digital tools that help address critical issues like hunger, housing and education."

The judges of the competition were:

  • Paul Appelbaum, principal, Rock Ventures, LLC
  • John Griffin, founder and president, Blue Ridge Capital
  • Sarah Holloway, vice chair, CSNYC and director, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs
  • Craig Nevill-Manning, engineering director, Google
  • Kirstin Nevill-Manning, vice president, Teachers Pay Teachers
  • Chris Rush, co-founder and chief program officer, New Classrooms Innovation Partners
  • Minerva Tantoco, chief technology officer, the City of New York
  • Michael Weinstein, chief program officer, The Robin Hood Foundation

"These winning technology solutions are addressing the needs of underserved populations in truly innovative ways," said Minerva Tantoco, chief technology officer for the City of New York. "I'm incredibly inspired and encourage all of the city's technologists to continue focusing on how we can create more tech for good. Together, we have the ability to improve the quality of life in communities where it can have the most impact, serving as a force multiplier. Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood is enabling this incredibly important work."

About the three winners:

Heat Seek NYC builds temperature sensor networks that collect the data tenants need to get landlords to keep the heat on. The team, previously winners of the 2014 Big Apps competition, plans to use the program to support the launch of their beta pilot in 40 buildings across the city this winter. also wants to improve New York housing. They've built a mobile-first tool that enables tenants to more effectively get repairs made on their apartments while building a case file that can be used in the event they have to go to housing court.

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses an online calendaring system to mobilize volunteers to pick up and transport small batch restaurant leftovers to shelters and other food distribution points. They plan to use their Catalyst funding to bring on a developer to make their web-based platform mobile and to expand the size of their volunteer force.

The other competitors included:

  • Addicaid - Mobile cognitive behavioral therapy to help people overcome addiction
  • Populace - SMS-based tools to help community-based organizations recruit, retain, and follow up with their clients
  • Vidcode - A video-based computer science curriculum that teaches coding via creative projects
  • Yenko - A tool that helps keep college students on a path to graduation

The seven finalists were culled from an initial group of more than 40 start-ups that applied to the program. The Catalyst incubator provides six months of support, workshops and a $40,000 cash stipend.

The teams that weren't selected for Catalyst had the chance to win a share of the secondary prize pool, $10,000 that was distributed by audience vote at a showcase event following the judging panel.

About Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood

Blue Ridge Labs offers fellowships, grants and workshops that help social innovators build technology tools aimed at addressing challenges faced by low-income individuals. The program was launched from inside the Blue Ridge Foundation New York to build upon Blue Ridge's 15-year legacy of transforming ideas into successful organizations. Blue Ridge Labs became part of Robin Hood in March, 2015.

About Robin Hood

Robin Hood is New York's largest poverty-fighting organization, and since 1988 has focused on finding, funding, and creating programs and schools that generate meaningful and measurable results for families in New York's poorest neighborhoods. Since its founding, Robin Hood has raised more than $2 billion in dollars, goods and services to provide hundreds of the most effective soup kitchens, homeless shelters, schools, job-training programs and other vital services that give New York's neediest citizens the tools they need to build better lives. Robin Hood's board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to organizations helping New Yorkers in need.

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