Kana Hammon is the co-founder and Executive Director of YCore, an organization and movement of millennials aimed to catalyze the next generation of social impact. Unlike the other organizations we have profiled, YCore is not a technology company, but we decided to profile YCore because it takes a different approach toward tech for social impact. YCore has a fellowship program for young professionals (mostly in tech) to apply their skills toward projects with nonprofits in the local community.

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Kana Hammon, co-founder and Executive Director of YCore

Can you tell us more about YCore?

YCore is a social impact fellowship for young professionals. We are catalyzing the next generation of social impact by equipping young professionals with the tools to impact their communities — for the rest of their lives. Specifically, young professionals commit 5 hours per week over four months (outside of work!) while working closely with a nonprofit on a team project, gaining exposure to social sector topics and skills and building a community of like-minded people. In the past three years, we’ve reached 100 young professionals in our program, partnered with 15 community-based organizations in the Bay Area and reached over 1000 people at our speaker events. …


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Jess, powerhouse founder of Callisto!

Jessica Ladd is the founder of Callisto, an online sexual assault reporting system that aims to create a more empowering reporting experience for survivors, provide authorities with better evidence on sexual assault, and facilitate the identification of repeat perpetrators. Callisto grew out of Jessica’s personal experience of sexual assault in college.

Jessica had previously also worked in policy in the White House, research at Johns Hopkins and co-founded an accelerator for student-initiated social innovation projects, before finally realizing that she felt most inclined toward technology as a tool for social change. Jess is also a TED fellow.

What is Callisto?

Callisto is an online reporting system for sexual assault survivors. …


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Komal Ahmad is the founder of Copia, a startup that tackles poverty by redistributing surplus food to feed people in need. She started Copia in her senior year of college when she met a homeless veteran who hadn’t eaten for 3 days, within walking distance from a dining hall where so much excess food was simply thrown away. Copia is a YCombinator and Fast Forward alum.

I’m not the typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur — I’m not just trying to start a startup. I was trying to solve a problem, and it was an obsession. I had to figure this out. This needs to exist in the world. …


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Christian Monaghan, co-founder of Nava, in his natural habitat

Our first profile is of Christian Monaghan, co-founder of Nava, a startup that works closely with the US government to radically improve government services, like healthcare.gov. Nava was founded by the folks who were brought in to fix healthcare.gov in 2013, after they realized there was much more they could do for the people through great engineering and design.

Christian was in business consulting before learning how to code by himself. After he got roped into fixing healthcare.gov, he decided to start Nava with the team there.

Running delightful government services wakes me up every morning. The scope of the impact is enormous — I want to change the belief that the government can’t do things. …


I recently purchased a New Yorker subscription on impulse (go Labor Day discounts!) and downloaded the digital app — NYer Today. When I logged in, the screen made me choose between 3 things: logging in via my New Yorker Subscription, or via my Apple Subscription, or to Link my Subscription. What was the difference between these options? I didn’t care, I just want to log in. (I wish I took a screenshot of it, but I was slightly tipsy on Horchata rum and forgot.)

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The replacement of the monocle with the phone in the logo is a nice touch though! (PC: New Yorker)

As a user, I didn’t care about which account I used to subscribe, I only cared about being able to log in with the email I registered with minutes ago when I purchased my subscription. On the other hand, the engineers and product people might care, since logging in via each of these routes would have required different technical infrastructures. In those few moments, I experienced a jarring user experience, one that imposed a systems-level model on me, instead of one that followed and matched how I thought. …


I have spent most of my time at Stanford exploring the intersection between design, technology and education, and many people have asked why. I have been giving slightly different reasons to each one, since I am both captivated by it as a student growing up in the fascinating Singaporean education system, an educator creating and teaching classes on edtech and equity, and on developing tech for social impact solutions to complex problems, and as a designer working on technological tools that support and encourage student-driven learning.

Reflecting on it further on why I am even in this field, it all boils down to the fluffy notion of helping all individuals reach their full potential, regardless of the circumstances of their birth and surroundings. We have an entire system arguably built around that aim, and that is big-E Education. To me, big-E Education refers to the schooling system that virtually every child goes through. I differentiate that from small-e education in the sense that learning and teaching occurs in informal environments as much as it does in the formal school system, and is as equally important. I also differentiate it from formal learning as well, because big-E Education goes beyond pedagogy and learning methods and considers other systems constraints like equity, funding and politics. …


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I decided to spend my 22nd birthday on one of the seven wonders of the world — the Great Wall of China! (Technically, it is currently 1 day after my actual birthday, but due to weather conditions the hike could only happen today.) The section I chose to hike was Mutianyu (慕田峪), which was well-restored but not too crowded.

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My fellow gringos and I — friends from Dallas, Pennsylvania, Switzerland and Indonesia


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I begin the day heading to a shopping mall in Xidan at the recommendation of my new friend from the Guang’an Electronics Market. When I told him about my interest in VR, he told me to check this place out. While I initially expected rows and columns of tiny stalls selling VR headsets from homegrown brands, a consumer exhibit greeted me in the basement of a glitzy shopping mall.

Users can pay at least 30 yuan to try out 5 minutes of VR games on the HTC Vive — 奥秘世界, the people creating the exhibition and the games themselves that brought Escape the Room events in Beijing. …


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I become a tourist today and head off to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace, home to the emperors of China since 1420. (This is the only selfie I got there oops). I hear Chinese dialects I cannot identify, Korean, and a smattering of European languages from the tourists in the area.

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A standalone gate is situated between the Palace of Earthly Honor (翊坤宫), where Empress Dowager Cixi celebrated her 50th birthday. According to the electronic guide, gates like these are commonly used to protect the privacy of the inhabitant. …


The familiarity of being able to navigate the city independently is comforting as I explore Beijing on my own, but I also miss the warmth of our newfound friends in Wangqingtuo.

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I return to Columbia Beijing Week, to listen to Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke speak about contemporary Chinese independent cinema. …

About

Gloria Chua

stanford ’17, student, educator, designer and Boba lover | www.gloriachua.com

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