Opportunity2020: COVID-19 Response For College Students

Story

The Mentor App is a modern mentoring management platform that empowers students, engages mentors, and equips schools with additional tools needed for students to succeed; no matter their background. Our aim is to connect college students with professional mentors and remote opportunities that will help them continue their career and stay motivated during the current pandemic. With a successful campaign, we will be able to 1). update The Mentor App software to be used for college students and their professional mentors and 2). create a digital opportunity portal to connect companies and small business owners with students who are looking for remote internships and jobs.

I'm Jhamar Youngblood, the founder and CEO of The Blast App Inc (TBA™). I founded TBA™ in 2014 while in graduate school at Dartmouth College. The mission was simple, I wanted to create a software company that builds digital products to help people. In 2017 we won a grant from the city of Newark in New Jersey to build a safety button in our messaging app to protect teens and women from street attacks and domestic abuse. Read about it here: Newark Native Wins $50K Grant For New Women's Safety App

 

In 2019 Julia Makhalova joined the founding team. She has worked and lived in U.S., France, China, and Russia. With experience in data and marketing, she has developed Gen-Z focused brand and innovation platforms for Nike, Netflix, and Google. This same year we started working on our second product, The Mentor App. The Mentor App is a modern mentoring management platform that empowers students, engages mentors, and equips schools with additional tools needed for students to succeed; no matter their background. Unlike traditional in-person mentorship programs, The Mentor App is an affordable digital solution that allows any business, non profit, or school to manage a mentoring program.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic we added our third team member to the team, Idia Ihensekhien. Idia studies Anthropology at Dartmouth College and is a member of the women's rugby team that won the 2018 national championship. When Idia joined the team she shared stories all of her friends who have lost internships, and are now feeling uncertain about their future. To help her friends and other college students, Idia pitched Julia and I a solution that would connect current college students with professional mentors and other opportunities that will help them get through the current COVID-19 pandemic. That idea blossomed into Opportunity2020

 

Risks and Challenges

Is running a global mentorship program through software difficult? To be honest, we are not sure. But we do know that we are up for the task because this a problem that we truly care about helping to solve. Our students are feeling lost and hopeless, and the last thing we need them to do is to spend most of their free time on social media. There is a correlation between social media usage and the rise of anxiety, depression, and overall stress amongst our most important age groups; teens and young adults. And during the last decade children’s hospital admissions for suicidal thoughts/actions doubled. If there were an over the counter drug, food or beverage that had such alarming effects on our youth, the product would be banned by the government. However, government intervention and assistance seems impossible or a few months away, at a minimum. So if we can’t rely on the government to help us cure this problem, what can we do? Opportunity2020 is our step forward.