Finalists revealed: VL Innovators Challenge

  • Name: Alexis Chaet
City/State: Charlottesville, VA
Submission: Designing Culturally-Competent Health IT for US Latino Migrant Farmworker Population
This is a program to improve health for migrant farmworkers in rural Virginia. They will create a video series to inform and educate primarily male workers about important health issues. Information about these health issues will be loaded into to an app, which will be accessible via tablets installed in five worker camps in Virginia – about 35 workers live in each camp. The tablets will be connected to the local community clinic to make it easy for the workers to contact a health professional in case of questions or if they need to schedule appointments. A health worker will also be hired for each camp as part of this project. A student programmer at University of Virginia will code the app.
  • Name: Ralph Vacca
City/State: New York, NY
Submission: MiMente: Emotion Regulation for At-Risk Latina Teenagers
This mobile app aims to help young Latinas (ages 15-18) improve their mental and emotional health by engaging them in guided emotion regulation training exercises, allowing the user to share her progress with other app users (Ex: a trusted friend or mentor), and providing resources to suicide prevention services. The app also allows for anonymous sharing, allowing for the building of a “virtual support community” to help combat feelings of isolation.
  • Name: Alberto A. Altamirano
City/State: San Antonio, TX
Submission: Cityflag
Cityflag aims to give Latinos a way to interact with local government by way of a mobile app using a game like, user-friendly interface based on incentives and a rewards system, as well as peer-to-peer network dynamics to foster a participatory culture.
  • Name: Mayra Jhoana Cruz
City/State: San Francisco, CA
Submission: MiMentor Pre-Health Mentoring Community
MiMentor works to connect Latino Latino students (ages 13 +) who want to work in a health or medical profession with Latino mentors who are already practicing in their chosen health field. MiMentor.org launched in January 2014 and has more than 1,000 mentor/mentee users based primarily in California. MiMentor is applying for grant to  grow the organization from a California based platform to a national mentoring network by creating a mobile application to connect mentors and mentees.
  • Name: Eutiquio “Tiq” Chapa
City/State: Stanford, CA
Submission: Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Development Program
The program will include a six-week online course for Latino business owners who are interested in building highly scalable companies, by providing knowledge and skills tailored to Latinos. Presentations and mentoring from successful Latino entrepreneurs will complement this course. The course will be presented via a mobile app and will be convenient for entrepreneurs who are on the go.
  • Name: Marco Perez
City/State: Tucson, AZ
Submission: Julie Through the System
A mobile app and website for Latino youth to navigate through the juvenile justice system. The project highlights the lack of education among young Latinos about the legal system and aims to educate them about their rights, legal terminology, and how the juvenile justice system processes youth. It will provide likelihoods of outcomes given the user’s location and demographic information. The target demographic is youth who are at-risk of juvenile justice involvement and their educators.
  • Name: Sara Inés Calderón
City/State: Austin, TX
Submission: Electa
Electa is an elections app whose main features include:
A method for voters to verify voter registration information
Access to voting district information using geolocation.
Candidate history and profiles.
“Yelp”-like rating system for elected officials.
Information about volunteer opportunities, local organizations and events.
Email newsletters.
A social media component where voters can share voting experiences with social networks.
Electa provides a way for organizations, candidates and their campaigns, officials, groups, offices and communities to engage the Latino community to combat low voter turnout.
  • Name: Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca
City/State: East Palo Alto, CA
Submission: Dreamers Roadmap
Dreamers Roadmap is a mobile app to help undocumented students find scholarships. Users will be able to get information on scholarships for which they’re eligible and will receive push notifications to remind them of upcoming application deadlines.
  • Name: Stefan Schwinderman
City/State: Miami, FL
Submission: Healthy Women of West Kendall
Healthy Women of West Kendall is a mobile app to encourage healthy choices for Latinas. The system uses incentives and rewards for engaging in healthy practices like buying fresh fruits and vegetables, exercising, or selecting healthier menu options at local restaurants, and integrates with other existing platforms to push health messaging and incentives out through mobile phones. The program and messaging will be designed by staff from the West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

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Latinos use digital media more than any other ethnic group. But few Latinos are translating their tech savvy into tech work. In fact, only 7% of technology workers are Hispanic. Voto Latino believes Latinos can use their tech savviness to open doors to amazing careers in Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM).

The VL Innovators Challenge was created to get millennials, especially Latino millennials, thinking about technology both as an innovative change agent and as a potential career. Applicants were encouraged to “use a tech tool to address a need in the Latino community.” 

The Challenge will award $500,000 in grants to the best proposed projects. Winners will also spend two days on the Google campus in California where they will be paired with members of Google’s Marketing, Creative Labs, and Android teams, among others. Besides the chance to get an inside look at one of today’s leading tech giants, this opportunity will allow winners to showcase their talent to the best in the business and get the valuable insight needed to carry out their projects and impact their community. The competition is a project by Voto Latino in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (MacArthur Foundation) and Google and is administered by HASTAC. msnbc is a partner of the VL Innovators Challenge.  

These are the nine finalists of the VL Innovators Challenge.

WATCH: Voto Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar surprises two of the Challenge finalists LIVE on shift.msnbc.com

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