Why The Fight Against Urban Poverty Starts With Each One of Us

One cold night in San Francisco, I was walking downtown and passed a woman sleeping on the street with only a thin blanket protecting her from the cold, hard ground. I felt totally helpless and wondered why, in a city with so much wealth and innovation, where I can press a button to order a car or dinner on demand, I couldn’t do something to help this person right in front of me.

I decided that night I would do one thing to make a difference, and that one thing became HandUp.

It all started as a simple side project with my friend Zac Witte, who became my co-founder.

The concept is simple: we present a way for individuals to donate directly to specific homeless people and neighbors in need via personalized web profiles.

At the end of 2013, we launched a pilot program with one local non-profit in San Francisco. Today, HandUp.org is a powerful platform with 16 non-profit partners across the US.

Too often, the voices of those experiencing poverty go unheard. With HandUp, they are able to share their stories, and donors can directly support their goals. Our members on HandUp set a fundraising goal and create a profile with their case manager. Donors read their stories and can support the projects they feel most connected to or contribute to our National Fund.

To date, donors have raised over US$800K for people in need in our communities.

Impact Beyond Dollars

When a donor helps someone reach his or her goal, the support goes far beyond the financial impact. The members of our community who rely on HandUp often tell us that a donor’s contribution means so much more than money – it shows that someone out there believes in them.

With every donation people can send words of support, and our community members can respond directly via text message or email. These messages reinforce the compassion our donors have for others in need, and help create a greater network of support for those who need it most.

For someone like Rodney, it was this support that helped him reach his goals to move himself toward stability. Hear Rodney’s story in his own words:

New Solutions to Poverty Are Within Our Reach

While HandUp is not a silver bullet to end poverty, it is an effective method to solve a small piece of a bigger puzzle. By building the tools that empower and engage our community, we can seize the power of human relationships and technology to create real change.

It is our responsibility to do something, however small, about the problems we see in the world, however large.

As you dream big about innovations in your cities, don’t be scared to start small. So, what is your one thing going to be?

Learn more about HandUp and be a part of the movement by visiting HandUp.org