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Hacking for good gets a prominent showcase

To the general public, the term "hacking" might still invoke isolated rogues in dark rooms. However, in Philadelphia’s thriving coding community, hacking for good has become so common that Technical.ly Philly is hosting an event to showcase the best projects that have come out of hackathons in the past year. On December 6, they will present the Civic Hacks of 2013 Demo Night.

"Civic hacking is the act of using simple technical solutions to address or better understand bigger social problems," says Corinne Warnshuis, events coordinator at Technical.ly Philly. "I think people are becoming more familiar with the concept, but I do think there may still be some negative associations with the term ‘hacking’ in the broader population. To those people, I would say come out to the demo night or a hackathon to learn more about the process."

The demo night will feature five of the most interesting online tools created at hackathons such as Random Hacks of Kindness, Day of Civic Hacking and Code for Philly meetups. Presenters include Mjumbe Poe from Councilmatic and myPhillyRising; Kathryn Killebrew of OpenTripPlanner; Ben Garvey from Bulldog Budget; and Amy Laura Cahn from Grounded in Philly

Warnshuis is particularly excited to hear from Councilmatic, which aims to get regular citizens more involved with the city's legislative process. She beleives that all civically-minded citizens can help create apps to better understand the city.

"You don't have to be a developer to participate,” she says. “Some great projects are the result of ideas from those with deeper understanding of some specific social or civic issue. I think there's a place for everyone at hackathons, and the Civic Hacks Demo Night is a great entry point to find out more about them."

Civic Hacks of 2013 Demo Night will take place 6:30 - 8 p.m. December 6 at O3 World, 1339 Frankford Ave., Suite 3.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Corinne Warnshuis, Technical.ly Philly

Inventing the Future: Fostering a Canadian invasion in healthcare IT

When considering international business opportunities, investors often overlook our neighbors to the North. However, the economic development spurred by Canadian companies is quite significant. 

Vince Finn, trade commissioner of Life Sciences & Health IT at the Consulate General of Canada, estimates that bilateral trade between Canada and the U.S. nets more than $24 billion annually and contributes to 300,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

In November, at the fifth annual eHealth Innovation Summit at the University City Science Center, eleven emerging Canadian healthcare IT companies demonstrated their technologies. These startups are part of a "market immersion" program launched by the Science Center and the Canadian Consulate General; it has been dubbed the Canadian Technology Accelerator at the Science Center (CTA for Health IT). 

The CTA for Health IT offers a communal co-working space at the Science Center’s Port Business Incubator, as well as access to programming, resources and support from the local network. Participating startups aim to build their relationships with hospitals, insurers, clinics and physicians in the city. 

The program launched in May 2013. The second group of startups took up residency at the Science Center in September 2013. Companies from both classes presented at the summit: Infonaut offers real-time clinical information about hospital infection prevention and control; Pulseinfo Frame offers database-driven informatics for disease management and clinical workflow improvement; Sensory Tech develops telemedicine solutions for in-home hospice care services; and HandyMetrics Corporation commercializes hand hygiene methods. 

Some of the participating demonstrators, including Memotext and Pulseinfo Frame, have plans to stay in Philadelphia after the immersion program is complete.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center

Hidden City's Nathaniel Popkin delves into the sordid history of Philly's art world in debut novel

Prolific storyteller Nathaniel Popkin has written about the city of Philadelphia in multiple mediums -- as a journalist at City Paper, an architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the author of two non-fiction books, founder and co-editor of Hidden City Daily, and script writer for the documentary film series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. Now Popkin is publishing his first work of fiction, Lion and Leopard, a historical novel set in the Philadelphian art scene in the early 19th century.

Lion and Leopard explores the developing rift between Philadelphia's established art community, led by Charles Wilson Peale, and proponents of the new Romantic and naturalistic styles. German artist John Lewis Krimmel paints subversive urban city scenes and clashes with Peale prior to his mysterious untimely death.

Popkin decided to focus his novel on the life and death of John Lewis Krimmel after seeing Krimmel's work in historian Gary Nash's book First City

"I commiserated with his project, as I've done a good deal of street photography," says Popkin. "Then I saw he died tragically, at 32, drowning in a mill pond in Germantown. I was intrigued. It was a mystery. It seemed apocryphal -- his death coincided with the end of nature and the beginning of the mass exploitation of the natural world with industrialization. It seemed like hidden history that I could explore through fiction."

Popkin did not hesitate to re-imagine the lives of iconic Philadelphians, such as Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts founder Peale. Rather, he found that by interpreting the "reality" of history, he was able to bring characters to life in a way that would resonate with modern readers.

Despite Popkin's prolificacy and reputation, his idea for a historical novel set in Philadelphia was not immediately well-received by publishers. Then he met Nic Esposito of The Head and The Hand, a startup press based in Fishtown. 

"I wanted a publisher who would help me get the book right, produce it and sell it in a mindful, intentional way, and that's what they have done," explains Popkin. “They're a Philly press. I happen to believe that we need more Philly presses with national vision to publish literature if we're going to become a good book city. 2013 was a tremendous start for the press."

"No one looks askance when a New York publisher publishes a novel written by a New Yorker that's set in New York," he continues. “No one wonders if that isn't a bit provincial. Philadelphia -- or any particular place well-conceived in fiction -- is enticing to publishers looking for something new. We have plenty of delicious material."

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Nathaniel Popkin

Inventing the Future: Local startup Ycenter offers immersive international learning experiences

Speaking at IgniteGood's Ignition Philly event last week, Dhairya Pujara demonstrated his mastery of the organization's narrative workshop, which helps participants develop storytelling skills and become better advocates. Pujara's story was clear and concise, and his connection with the audience was authentic.

It is that ability to reach people, and the value Pujara places on his experiences doing so, that prompted him to found Ycenter, a startup non-formal learning center offering international experiences.

Born and raised in India, Pujara came to the United States in 2010 to pursue a M.S. in biomedical engineering at Drexel University. After graduating, he traveled to Mozambique to work in a rural healthcare system for five months. There, Pujara realized how ill-prepared he was to use his engineering skills to solve real world problems. 

"My communication skills were challenged in this Portuguese-speaking war-torn country," says Pujara. "My first few weeks were very shocking and challenging. To collaborate with members in the rural community, I realized the need to understand and be a part of this culture. It didn't matter where I came from, my educational background or my intentions, until I set aside my ego and immersed myself in this new community." 

Pujara's experience taught him the importance of "rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty." After returning to Philadelphia from his time in Mozambique, Pujara developed the concept for Ycenter. 

"Traditional study abroad programs offered by universities are very academic in nature and very formal," he explains. "And then there are volunteer programs, which are not structured for attaining concrete learning objectives. Ycenter's non-formal learning program helps students supplement their formal field of studies and work on community impact projects internationally." 

Drexel Product Design Professor Mike Glaser and Dean of the School of Biomedical Engineering Banu Onaral helped give Pujara direction; Philly VIP connected him with pro-bono legal services from Dechert LLP. Students from Drexel, Temple and LaSalle have expressed interest in applying for the program.

Ycenter's biggest challenge has been raising capital, but Pujara is confident -- he plans to launch the startup's first immersive learning experience in March 2014.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Dhairya Pujara, Ycenter

Catchafire, pro-bono matchmaker, expands to Philadelphia

Another national organization focused on furthering social good is launching a Philadelphia outpost. New York City-based Catchafire will announce its Founding Member Class at an official local launch on November 13. 

A for-profit social mission business and certified B Corporation, Catchafire empowers existing nonprofits and social enterprises to achieve their goals. Catchafire does this by connecting talented individuals who want to volunteer their services with organizations in need of pro-bono work.

Over the last six months, Catchafire has partnered with a small group of nonprofit leaders and organizations in the city, including the Children's Crisis Treatment Center, the Center for Literacy and Philadelphia FIGHT. Locals helped the group understand the city's volunteer and nonprofit landscape, culture and challenges.

"We have been impressed by the passion and professionalism of our current partners and the strength of the Philadelphia nonprofit community in general," says Adrienne Schmoeker, a corportate accounts lead at Catchafire. "We were eager to build on this early success by investing in Philadelphia in order to serve more organizations and volunteers across the region."

Catchafire asked community leaders to nominate two or three nonprofits or social enterprises. Nominees were interviewed and the Philadelphia Founding Member Class was selected.

Catchafire will celebrate its local launch at the headquarters of one of those 28 Founding Members -- Impact Hub Philly. They're also new to the city, having recently taken over the former 3rd Ward space in South Kensington. (Flying Kite publisher Michelle Freeman works out of Impact Hub.)

"They also share our values in building a strong, efficient and effective social good community," says Schmoeker. "Catchafire provides resources for nonprofit organizations to connect with talent, and Impact Hub Philly's physical and digital spaces allow leaders to dialogue with one another and to collaborate for the greater good."

Several founding members are already launching projects with volunteer professionals; these include a business plan writing project at the Center for Literacy; a Culture Coaching project at Philadelphia FIGHT; a brand messaging project with Tech Impact; a fundraising plan project with the Philadelphia Center for Arts & Technology (PCAT); and a print materials redesign at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

Catchafire plans to engage others in the Philadelphia nonprofit community over the next few months.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Adrienne Schmoeker, Catchafire

Local education initiative Fresh Palates to Palettes puts the 'art' in culinary arts

Featured on both Rachael Ray and WHYY-TV's Friday Arts program, the innovative program Fresh Palates to Palettes is back for a second round at the Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School (SLA). The multifaceted four-month curriculum exposes SLA's students to some of Philadelphia's best culture and cuisine as part of a collaborative effort to fight arts funding cuts in schools.

The program's parent organization, Fresh Artists, is an award-winning local nonprofit that empowers children to create art in exchange for art supply donations to their schools. Fresh Palates to Palettes is a pilot project of the Fresh Artists Greenhouse Program, an incubator of entrepreneurial ideas, networking support and development acumen for art teachers.

Students in Fresh Palates to Palettes are connected with local restaurants, chefs and artists. This year's participants include Lacroix, Bistrot La Minette, Pub & Kitchen, and Vernick Food & Drink. SLA's art teacher, Deva Watson, or "Chef" to her students, leads the classroom implementation of the program.

Watson has spent many years working in local kitchens, and she carries over lessons learned in the hospitality industry to her classroom. Her mantra emphasizes working "hard, clean and with efficiency." 
Watson began the program by teaching her students about still life art. At each restaurant, students will be served the chef's signature dish, then sketch the meal. Acclaimed food photographers, including Flying Kite's Michael Persico, will then style the sketches. 
Fresh Palates to Palettes will culminate in the spring with several high profile exhibitions: a public pop-up of the entire project at Metropolitan Gallery 250; and a private reception for the chefs and project donors at Avance, hosted by Chef Justin Bogle. Each participating chef will highlight "Le Choix du Chef" (Chef's Choice). On March 20, those four selected artists will be honored with a special cooking lesson courtesy of South Philadelphia Taproom chef Scott Schroeder, hosted by COOK
Barbara Chandler Allen, founder and president of Fresh Artists, believes the previous run of the project showed its ability to break down barriers for students while introducing them to potential creative careers and honing additional skills.

"In our second year, Fresh Palates to Palettes, like a fine wine, continues to improve with age," says Allen. "Last year's pilot project has blossomed into a richer, deeper educational experience for the children and the generous culinary community supporting them. Our kids are learning there are real exciting jobs in the creative economy if you are passionately engaged in learning and connecting. Fresh Artists is committed to opening doors for city kids -- changing their scripts and raising the bar so high that they will aim to sail over it."

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Barbara Chandler Allen, Fresh Artists

Good news on Philadelphia venture capital front

After a number of rough years, 2012 saw an increase in the number of venture capital deals and dollars flowing to Philadelphia region technology companies. And 2013 is looking good.
A new report  released by Ernst & Young,  Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP)  and the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT),  reports that 2012 was the best year since 2008 for investment in the region, bucking the national trend of declining deals and dollars.
"And early results from 2013 appear to be on track to meet or exceed the five-year average annual investment amount of $750 million," the report says.
The report finds that 2012 investment in the region was $698 million: $580 million in 59 deals came from venture capital firms, $59 million in 64 deals from angel investors, $51 million in 11 deals from corporate/strategic investors and $7 million in 57 deals from seed funds and accelerators.
The numbers reinforce Philly's strength in the life sciences, which accounted for 41% of all funded companies since 2008. But the report also finds a significant uptick in the software and information technology sectors, accounting for 33% of all companies funded, which it attributes to a surge in investment activity for enterprise software companies starting last year.
"The results … are a further impetus for entrepreneurs to choose the Greater Philadelphia region to launch and grow their enterprises," says RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, BFTP/SEP's CEO.
Source: Jaron Rhodes, BFTP/SEP
Writer: Elise Vider

Kensington Community Food Co-op holds '60 by 60' membership drive

After five years of planning and building membership, the Kensington Community Food Co-Op (KCFC) is ready to sign a lease. Their current campaign, 60 in 60, aims to bring 60 additional members to KCFC in 60 days, and to secure enough funding to ensure holding costs. If these goals are met, KCFC will open a location in 19125 early next year.
"It's going to provide healthy, quality food to the community," says Lena Helen, president of KCFC. "No grocery store in the area is committed to doing that completely."
To assist the membership drive, KCFC is holding two meet-and-greets this month: the first was held November 4 at Pizza Brain and Little Baby’s Ice Cream and the second will be November 21 at Adorn Boutique. The co-op also holds bi-weekly marketplaces at Circle of Hope church on Frankford Ave. The evening marketplaces give new and prospective members the opportunity to ask questions about healthy foods.

KCFC plans to increase educational activities once the permanent location has been established. Due to the density of low income residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, the co-op expects to offer food access programs such as "Food for All," a neighborhood fund for subsidized memberships. 
KCFC is supported by local organizations including the East Kensington Neighborhood Association and the Norris Square Neighborhood Project. The New Kensington Community Development Corporation helped the co-op raise initial funds and conduct a feasibility study. KCFC has also held marketplaces at Greensgrow Farms and staffs a booth at Greensgrow events.
Source: Lena Helen, Kensington Community Food Co-op
Writer: Dana Henry

Azavea becomes leader in 'predictive policing' with HunchLab

Predictive policing, an emerging statistical science, incorporates multiple streams of data to help law enforcement determine where and when crime will happen. The methodology has been gaining interest from police departments throughout the country. Azavea, GIS experts based in Callowhill, are at the forefront of this movement with their platform HunchLab.

Previously, many police departments used crime statistic to pinpoint "hotspots" that need to be patrolled more frequently. HunchLab improves that practice by layering in other influencing factors such as weather and time of day, week or year, and mapping the likely outcome.

"All these different data types go into changing the probability of an event happening," says Jeremy Heffner, project manager and business development associate for HunchLab. "The system automatically figures out the best location to put resources based on all that knowledge."

Azavea developed HunchLab after helping research teams at Temple and Rutgers Universities develop statistical modeling solutions for crime forecasting. HunchLab 2.0 also allows police chiefs to prioritize crimes of high social impact, such as violent crimes.

As many departments continue to face budget cuts, HunchLab -- currently in use in Philly, Ohio and Washington State -- helps generate economically effective policing strategies. One department, for example, used the system to track an uptick in auto break-ins. Then they used HunchLab to determine when and where to effectively place a "bate" car.

"This helps police departments take the limited resources that they have and use them more effectively," says Heffner. "If you put resources in the right place at the right time you are more likely to interrupt crime as well as prevent future incidents."

Source: Jeremy Heffner, Azavea
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Invisible Sentinel enters expansion phase, is hiring for various positions

A year after receiving their first certification from the Association of Analytical Communities International (AOAC), Invisible Sentinel -- the "garage" biotech startup -- is growing fast. They’re pulling in enough revenue to break-even on initial investment (over $7 million) by 2014. The company is graduating from the University City Science Center's Port Business Incubator and will remain on the Science Center campus.
Invisible Sentinel makes disposable, rapid diagnostic tools that test for food contaminants such as Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. Veriflow, the company's patented technology, cuts down on both time and human error, making testing easier, cheaper and more reliable. Invisible Sentinel has a broad client base -- so far their products have been popular among dairy farms, peanut butter factories, meat manufacturers and third party labs that use their technology to conduct outsourced testing for large processors.
"Everybody who makes and produces food is our customer base," says Ben Pascal, cofounder and CBO. "It's really countrywide."
That means the company has a lot of work to do. They're currently outfitting and staffing an in-house manufacturing center complete with a robotics system. Open positions include manufacturing technician, quality director, production manager, financial and accounting services, sales and scientist. They will continue to raise capital for this phase.
"It's all expansion capital," says Pascal. "A lot of the risk associated with research and development is gone. Our challenge now is scaling to be able to meet demand."
Invisible Sentinel -- currently an 18-person team -- will remain in Philly thanks to low-interest government financing and flexible accommodations from the Science Center. They've received FDA approval on two products and expect approval for two more in the near future. The company recently released a video demonstrating how their devices work.
Source: Ben Pascal, Invisible Sentinel
Writer: Dana Henry

State of Young Philly 2013 offers new opportunities for young activists

Narcissistic. Apathetic. Cynical. State of Young Philly (SOYP), the annual, week-long activist celebration from Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), rails against the unfortunate descriptors often associated with generation Y. This year, events run from Friday, October 25 through Saturday, November 2.
"There are a lot of articles out there stereotyping young people as the 'me' generation," says Mike Kaiser, Events Chair for YIP. “When you come out to YIP events, it's a totally different picture. We're trying to challenge that [perception]."
The week focuses on civic skill-building. Highlights include an opening night reception and civic engagement fair featuring Campus Philly, Groundswell, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Need in Deed, Impact HUB Philly, the People's Emergency Center, and many others; Navigate Philly, a series of short presentations by local leaders on topics such as politics, media and education; Sustainability Night, an instructional event on recycling, composting and waste disposal; Get a Job, featuring advice from human resource professionals; and a "Welcome to Philly" happy hour featuring a "minimalist" Halloween costume contest.
Then, on November 2, YIP will host their first civic engagement un-conference. Participants will be encouraged to share ideas and best-practices.
"We know there are people out there making progress and positive change in Philly," says Kaiser. "This is a chance to bring everyone together to share that knowledge. We're trying to accelerate ideas and connections."
Last January, YIP's new board launched a quarterly "Learn, Grow, Do" series. It introduces Philly activists to fundamentals such as first-time home buying, networking and park cleaning. SOYP will give existing members the chance to reflect on their progress and engage new potential members.
"It really reaffirms that what we're doing matters," says Kaiser. "For new people it’s, 'Here’s something simple you can do to join this movement.'"
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

TicketLeap finds success in an irregular market, releases Mobile Box Office app

Chances are the Flyers will sell out their upcoming 82-game season by simply offering up seats through Comcast Tix. Meanwhile, smaller homegrown events and festivals such as the Philly Beer Week, The Fringe Festival or the Morris Arboretum's Salsa Dance Night might have a harder time. For those niche event planners, there's Center City-based TicketLeap.

Instead of choosing between specific event marketplaces (theatre, sports, concerts), TicketLeap serves businesses and organizations that use events to drive business or raise awareness. That focus has helped grow the 10-year-old company's gross ticket sales from $34 million in 2011 to $52 million in 2012.

"It's not the traditional way of dividing the events market," says Tim Raybould, President and COO. "But it's a pretty large portion of the existing events market base."

TicketLeap's platform is decidedly DIY. Users build their own events page, which can be shared across the web and on mobile devices. They can also use the tool to build their social media presence, create email blasts and track customer analytics.

In August 2013, the company released the Mobile Box Office for iOS. The app is designed for flexible ticket-taking -- it allows the taker to scan-in attendees using mobile barcodes, look up specific attendees, or adjust the attendee list.  

"You don't have to have a full box office with ticket takers at the window," says Raybould. "You can just take your phone out of your pocket."

TicketLeap's existing customers --- which hail from across the country, Canada and part of Europe -- have been quick to add the new app. In the past year, the company has grown from 21 to 27 employees and expects to add software developers in the near future.
Source: Tim Raybould, TicketLeap
Writer: Dana Henry

Nuix helps companies mine unstructured information; they're releasing new software

Imagine gathering all your emails, Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, documents -- anything you’ve ever added to the internet -- in one place. The stack would be pretty high, right?

Now multiply that by every employee in a Fortune 500 company. That’s exactly what companies do when managing legal disputes. Nuix, an Australian company with a user-experience branch in Jenkintown, allows companies to sift through the glut of "unstructured information" -- including e-communications and other documents -- and pinpoint useable evidence.

The Jenkintown office has helped build Nuix Director, a new product that streamlines the workflow for investigations. The office currently has 25 employees and is hiring user-experience designers and developers.

During a legal investigation, collected documents are pared down by external legal services before landing on an attorney's desk. That process creates potential for miscommunication and human error. Nuix Director allows users to create a template to standardize the process and minimize mistakes.

"Organizations have big piles of unstructured information," says Stephen Stewart, Nuix's global CTO. "You can push a button and be confident that all steps happen the same way every time. You feed data in the front and it out comes a nice, reviewable, organized set of documents."

Of course, it's not just legal disputes that are drowning in documentation. Nuix Jenkintown is currently developing user-experience software to serve other Nuix markets, including criminal investigation and internal business operations. Their products are used in over 35 countries and revenue has consistently grown over the last five years.

"There's no lack of requirements or opportunities," says Stewart. "Every organization is creating new information every day, and we’re innovating every day at a hurried pace."

Source: Stephen Stewart, Nuix
Writer: Dana Henry

Recycled Artists in Residency, a program for innovators in creative reuse, officially launches

After spending two years as a pilot creative reuse project, Recycled Artist In Residency (RAIR) is officially launching. The program provides local artists with 1,000 square feet of studio space, private offices, welding and woodworking equipment, and a daily supply of tens of thousands of tons of post-consumer construction materials. The organization is currently accepting applications from individuals and collaborative groups.
RAIR was founded by Fern Gookin while she was a grad student in Philadelphia University's Masters of Sustainable Design program. She hoped to bring attention to sustainability issues through art and design. Gookin partnered with Billy Dufall, a local artist whose reuse projects include racing "toilet tricycles" and furniture made from building insulation. 
The program is hosted by Revolution Recovery, a construction waste recycling plant located in the Northeast; they donate the space and raw supplies. The time spent in the pilot stage gave RAIR the chance to fine tune the partnership and develop safety protocols.
"It's nontraditional to have artists working in a very busy operational facility," says Gookin. "We have to be aware that we're guests in the house."
RAIR has two tracks: the Standard Track is a one-to-four month residency, while the Biggie-Shorty asks the artist to build a "big project" in one to two weeks and then return the materials to the recycling stream. Artists document their process online.  
"It gives the artists the ability to experiment and work with materials at a different scale than they might be used to," explains Gookin. "It's less about making a piece of work that can be crated and shipped -- it's letting the creativity be the focus."
In its first year, RAIR will accept anywhere from three to eight local artists. They encourage artists and designers who are interested in reuse to apply regardless of discipline.
Source: Fern Gookin, Recycled Artist In Residency
Writer: Dana Henry

CauseHub, social sharing site for local organizations, gains international attention

There are countless local organizations around the world working on issues such as hunger, environmental protection, human rights and other imperative challenges. CauseHub.com, a social platform founded by Pennsbury High School student Ashvika Dhir, helps small-scale change-makers discuss common goals and share best practices.

Back in March, Dhir was the first high school student to present at IgnitePhilly. Since then, she has crowdsourced $4000 through LuckyAnt, added over 10 partner non-government organizations (NGOs) to the site and become one of the youngest innovators (and one of only fifty in the United States) to win this year's Global Startup Youth Scholarship.

Dhir developed the concept for CauseHub while volunteering at Mother Teresa, an orphanage in India.

"I realized these small ideas in India had no way of contacting people across the world," she says. "With Causehub, people can share in one specific location all having to do with causes."

To help these organizations publicize their work, CauseHup offers NGOs, collectives and individuals their own networking page. The site draws content from contributors in Columbia, Kenya, India and Philadelphia.

"I wanted the user to be in charge," says Dhir. "There are other blogs that talk about content and inform people, but I wanted to create a space where people could honestly discuss any cause they’re interested in."

Dhir continues to grow CauseHub's user base by tapping family members in India, drawing on international contacts and using word of mouth. She hopes the site will develop into a media outlet for charities, helping individuals find local opportunities for volunteering and educational events.

Source: Ashvika Dihr, CauseHub
Writer: Dana Henry
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