If you’re one of the 12.3 million people who watched Travis Scott perform on Fortnite this past week, you’ll agree: The sky’s the limit right now when it comes to cheering people up. One kid, per our commenters, said Scott’s performance was better than Star Wars.
The popular multiplayer game Fortnite, owned by Epic Games, is just one example of tech finding a creative way to continue business as usual amid this pandemic. And it got extra points for being psychedelic.
Let’s get into other tech companies working hard to do good during COVID-19.
Under my umbrella
Umbrella, a startup that provides services to seniors, is now recruiting thousands of volunteers to deliver essential items to the elderly that can’t leave their homes due to shelter-in-place orders. The deliveries include contact-free groceries and prescriptions.The New York-based startup connects seniors with local providers, but in response to the coronavirus outbreak it waived its annual membership fee and began a volunteer platform to connect seniors to local volunteers. The company recently landed a partnership with Venture for America to expand this volunteer effort.
Mental health for nurses
Trusted Health, which connects nurses to jobs and career resources, partnered with The College of Nursing at The Ohio State University to create a program focused on mental health and well-being of nurses on the frontlines right now. In the last six weeks, over 40,000 nurses signed up. The program kicked off with a mental wellness hotline and a wellness partner program that includes four to eight weeks of hands-on coaching and therapy.
Live captioning during science class
Remote education is no joke, especially when it looks like more of a scramble than a stroll. Rev.com, a voice-to-text service, is providing its transcription services for free to K-12 educators. In a statement the company said that the live-captioning can be integrated into Zoom, and could assist students who struggle with English as a second language. The service is free for the remainder of the school year.
Coaching for first-generation and low income students
For many low-income and first-generation students, school closures threaten much more than their spring break plans. Thousands of students now have to find a new source of food, housing and employment. Some can’t return to their homes because flights are either unsafe or too expensive. So Beyond 12, a nonprofit organization that focuses on college completion, is raising funds to start COVID-19 Virtual College Coaching Corps. The support program will focus on the emotional, social and academic support for students at risk for not graduating. The company says that in the past two weeks it raised $300K, and is now looking to hire 20 new coaches and reach 20,000 students.
Isolated? You’re not alone
Astra Labs, a nonprofit software company, has created a website to help people cope with the impact of COVID-19: Isolatednotalone.com. It’s a bit different from the other efforts we’ve seen to connect people to hotlines and CDC guidelines. Instead, this site answers the hard questions that arise from the pandemic: I just found out a loved one died from COVID-19, what can I do next? What are the options for a funeral? What happens if they die at home? What should my next steps be?
Contact-less solution for restaurants, for free
For customers that phone in takeout orders, the ol’ credit card exchange and pen sign still exists when they get to the restaurant (and so do the existing germs). To skip sharing screens and pens, San Francisco-based CardFree, which was founded in 2012, is giving three months of its mobile and online ordering software to restaurants for free. The deal is for small and medium-sized businesses, and CardFree says the software “cuts out the middleman of third-party delivery apps.”
Calling all science influencers of Instagram
Seed, a Venice-based startup that creates science-based probiotics, has launched a free science course taught via Instagram. The venture capital-backed company is teaching about a confusing subject that is now more important than ever: how microbes work amid COVID-19. The course is six weeks.
Little Spoon, a direct-to-consumer baby food company backed by Serena Williams, is providing free or discounted meals to parents struggling to feed their kids. The company has donated $100,000 in Little Spoon meals to Feeding America food banks, and is providing discounts to healthcare workers. Little Spoon is also partnering with employers to provide healthy and affordable kids’ meals to their employees’ children.
A forum for feelings
We all have a lot of up and down feelings these days that might not fit into 280 characters or work in our Slack groups. Now&Me created a discussion forum for people to share their highs and lows with others, with the option to post anonymously. The co-founder of Now&Me, Drishti Gupta, says that “we believe that feeling better starts with knowing it’s okay to not be okay.”
Crowd-sourced map to feed people
The pandemic has stress-tested food insecurity and the hunger crisis around the world. WhyHunger, a charity focused on the human right to nutritious food, partnered with 10x management and its software team to create an interactive map of free meal sites across the United States. Software engineers Greg Sadetsky and Colin Wren helped create the crowd-sourced and open sourced map.