Department of Veterans Affairs is no stranger iOS devices or to developing custom apps to help deliver key services to veterans and their families. In fact, the VA’s CIO last year said that the agency needed to become “iPad friendly” in order to effectively support the agency’s physicians, nurse, and other medical staff and an iOS pilot program was launched earlier this year.
More recently, the VA has been looking for ways that mobile technology can help homeless veterans find food, shelter, and other critical resources. To achieve that goal and raise awareness of veteran homelessness across the country (one out of six homeless adults in America is a veteran), the VA has teamed up with JBJ Soul Foundation, the non-profit charity created by music legend Jon Bon Jovi to launch an iOS/Android app contest called Project REACH.
The name Project REACH stands for Real-time Electronic Access for Caregivers and the Homeless. The goal is to create a mobile app that can those individuals and organizations that work with the homeless to find essential services more easily and quickly.
The initial goal of the project is focused around the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a community restaurant where customers pay what they can afford that is part of Bon Jovi’s foundation. The ideal result is that the project will deliver an app that can scale to the national level and identify resources across the country.
Project Reach has already awarded a $10,000 prize to five finalists. One of those finalists will receive an additional $25,000 prize for developing the best solution. Entrants will have a final beta period in which to finalize their apps beginning later this month and continuing through November, when a winner will be determined.
You can find addition information including a complete description of the contest, the rather stringent and real-world app requirements for submissions, and a gallery of apps from participating developers on the project’s website.