Fatherhood, Johego, and the Path Forward

He arrived earlier than we expected, and he has taken longer to onboard than we anticipated, but I am nonetheless elated to introduce the newest member of the Johego family, Sami Kehoe:

For as long as I can remember, I have daydreamed about being a father (largely because of the positive example set by my father), so it probably shouldn’t have surprised me that, when I found out that my wife and I were expecting our first child, I felt as though a series of electrical switches were being flipped in my brain, changing not only the order and weight of my priorities but also how I viscerally experience the world around me. Amid a global pandemic, a multitude of refugee crises, accelerating climate change, and other challenges foreign and domestic, I am regularly reminded that many individuals and families lack efficient, reliable access to the various social and medical services and supports that are necessary to survive and thrive — and that are far too easy to take for granted.

Thus, I remain more committed than ever to help streamline and strengthen the social safety net using technology. To that end, I am grateful to build off some of our biggest accomplishments from 2019:

Now that Sami has, for the most part, begun to sleep for longer durations and with greater regularity, Johego will resume posting more frequently about our progress toward our goal of making connecting with social and medical services as easy as finding showtimes for movies. In the meantime, I want to personally thank everyone who has supported Johego over the years with your time, talent, and treasure. We could not have made it to where we are today without your support.

— Michael

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Johego Wins Catalyst Fund Award

What do Johego, Star Trek, and King Abdullah II of Jordan have in common?

We’ve all benefited from the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry, a World War II pilot and LAPD officer who created the original Star Trek television series. An avid Trekkie, King Abdullah II (then a prince) appeared as an uncredited extra in a 1996 episode. For our part, I am thrilled to report that Johego has received a grant from the Roddenberry Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that was established by Gene’s son Rod “to build on his father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life to drive social change and meaningfully improve the lives of people around the world.”

Gene Roddenberry (third from the right) in 1976 with some of the Star Trek cast at the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, CA.
Gene Roddenberry (third from the right) in 1976 with some of the Star Trek cast at the rollout of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in Palmdale, CA.

Our proposal was motivated by two key observations:

  • In the US, it is easier to reserve a ticket for a movie than secure overnight shelter, mental health treatment, or other critical services — largely because of a lack of reliable information about such services.
  • Meanwhile, research has shown that over 90% of Americans want to volunteer yet only 25% do so, often because volunteer schedules are inflexible, volunteer tasks are uninteresting, or potential volunteers are never asked in the first place.

Thanks to funding from the Roddenberry Foundation, Johego will begin to help tackle these challenges simultaneously by creating a online platform through which volunteers can help collect and verify information about social and medical services that, in turn, will help people in need connect with those services more easily. Through this initiative, Johego will empower anyone with a phone and an Internet connection to make a meaningful difference in their community, no matter their location, schedule, or skill level.

Our work is being funded through the Catalyst Fund, a grant program “focused on early-stage, unconventional ideas that have the potential for disruptive change.” We are honored to have earned the support of the Roddenberry family, and we are thrilled to contribute our efforts to “disrupt existing dynamics, challenge old patterns of thought, and discover new ways to help us move towards a better future.” We look forward to keeping you posted as well roll out this new program in the coming months.

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Introducing #HumansOfJohego

When I started working on Johego full-time, I was living in West Lafayette, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, I decided to sign up for Indiana’s inexpensive Medicaid program, which was much more difficult than I imagined: I’ve graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from Stanford University, and I needed an entire day of undistracted effort to successfully enroll. I can only imagine how much harder it would have been if I were a single, working parent without the benefits of my education and flexible schedule.

Since then, I’ve learned that it’s not just members of the general public who struggle to efficiently navigate the social safety net but also nurses, social workers, police officers, and other public service professionals. Such inefficiency can be frustrating to those in need and harmful those who serve them: a feeling of professional inefficacy is one of three primary dimensions of burnout, a widespread occurrence among nurses and social workers.

In order to better inform the public about how people navigate the social safety net, we are pleased to present #HumansOfJohego, a social media hashtag we will be using to help promote of a series of stories on that subject. Here is our first installment in that series from one of our supporters:

Photo: First Installment of #HumansOfJohego
First Installment of #HumansOfJohego

“I am a Social Worker in the Emergency Department of a very large hospital. Multiple times throughout the day I am asked to provide community resources to patients. The resource most commonly requested is shelter resources. The homeless population in St. Louis is large and there are limited shelters. I worked with an elderly man that is homeless last week. I provided him with a list of homeless shelters in the area from two different websites. It took him several hours to call all of the agencies on the two lists because some did not answer, some were no longer open, or said he would have to call back at another time. Ultimately the patient was not able to find shelter for the night. It would be beneficial for both people seeking resources and social service providers if there was a centralized place with real time data about resources in the community. In my experience most of the websites for resources that are utilized in community are out of date. One resource that I use daily is only updated one time a year, so there are often agencies that have closed or no longer provide services that remain listed until the book is updated. This can be disheartening to people seeking services.”

In the future, we will be posting these stories exclusively on social media, so we encourage you to follow us on any of the following platforms:


If you or a friend, family member, or colleague have experienced challenges navigating the social safety net, we want to hear from you. You can visit the following link to learn more, including how to share your story:


Thank you for your interest and your support!

– Michael

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Holiday PSA: Put Down the Smartphone

What do you want to pay attention to
Image Credit: PhoneBreakup.com

Smartphone addiction is a severe and insidious public health challenge: the average smartphone user taps, swipes, and clicks their device 2,617 times each day during 76 separate sessions. In the short term, these sessions significantly reduce productivity: on average, it takes 25 minutes to return a task after an interruption. It can also reduce our emotional presence. As one author described her experience:

“I had recently had a baby and was feeding her in a darkened room as she cuddled on my lap. It was an intimate, tender moment — except for one detail. She was gazing at me … and I was on eBay, scrolling through listings for Victorian-era doorknobs.”

In the long term, problematic cell-phone use has been associated with negative cumulative outcomes, including “sleep disturbance, anxiety, stress, and, to a lesser extent, depression.”

Our collective addiction to our smartphones is not an entirely natural phenomenon but rather is very much a consequence of deliberate design decisions: for example, at my alma mater Stanford University, the Persuasive Technology Lab teaches “the psychology of behavior change, such as how clicker training for dogs, among other methods of conditioning, can inspire products for people. For example, rewarding someone with an instantaneous ‘like’ after they post a photo can reinforce the action, and potentially shift it from an occasional to a daily activity.”

average vs. heavy user phone usage per day
Image Credit: dscout.com

Johego, despite having developed a smartphone application for iOS and Android, is committed to helping combat cellphone addiction. Johego’s mission is to make connecting people in need with essential medical and social services as easy as finding showtimes for movies. Such connections will only occur when people notice and act upon such needs, which requires intellectual and emotional presence.

So, to close, here are a few simple things you can start doing during the holiday season to limit your smartphone usage:

  • Eliminate notifications for your most commonly used apps (on Android or iOS), especially social media.
  • Uninstall any app you do not strictly need (on Android or iOS), including those services you can access from your desktop or laptop computer — or from your smartphone Internet browser.
  • Place your phone away from you facedown when you are not using it, particularly when you are at work or in social settings.

In the meantime, we wish you safe and happy holidays!

– Michael

What do you want to pay attention to?
Image Credit: PhoneBreakup.com

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Introducing Johego Version 2.0

I am delighted to announce that Johego has released a major update to our smartphone application on iOS and Android, and that we are supporting a browser-based equivalent that can be accessed through a laptop or desktop computer! As with our previous releases, anyone may use our software for free and any verified social or medical service provider may be listed in our directory for free.

Johego Version 2.0 New Features

You may download Johego’s free smartphone application on iOS and Android here:

You may run Johego on a web browser (such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari) by clicking here:

Try Johego on your web browser

As of this writing, Johego is now available to around one million Missourians, in the counties outlined in bold black ink below:

Johego Geographic Coverage Map November 2018

If you know any social workers, police officers, nurses, teachers, pastors, or anyone else in our coverage area who may be in a position to connect people in need with social and medical services, I encourage you to pass this information along to them. The more people that have our technology literally at their fingertips, the harder it will be for people in need to slip through the cracks.

This release would not have been possible without the generous support of Missouri Foundation for Health as well as that of our donors, volunteers, and allies. I want to extend a special thank you to Krushna Kamtekar and Michael Goldman, who joined Johego in January and have been working on this update ever since. As a solo, non-technical founder, I placed a tremendous amount of trust in their ability to strengthen and streamline our technology from the ground up, and I have not been disappointed. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to build on their great work, expanding to new regions and helping more people more easily find the services they need.

— Michael Kehoe

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Johego Version 1.0: A Retrospective

Bill Gates observed that “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” I have been thinking a lot about that quote as Johego prepares to launch Version 2.0 of our software in the coming days, and I wanted to use this opportunity to share just how far we’ve come.

Two years ago, I had recently completed 16 online courses in data science and full-stack web development, and I was in the middle of Square One Boot Camp, an outstanding entrepreneurship training program based out of the Center for Emerging Technologies. A few months later, Johego secured a $4,732.26 contract with Families and Communities Together to develop, pilot, and release a smartphone application on iOS and Android to help social workers, nurses, and other public service professionals in Northeast Missouri more efficiently connect people in need with social and medical services, such as overnight shelter and addiction treatment.

The result was Johego Version 1.0, code-named Calm Dawn, which was launched in six counties around Hannibal, MO. In the 18 months since its launch, our software has been used thousands of times to help people find a wide variety of social and medical services:

Johego Version 1.0 by the Numbers

In the meantime, thanks to a ~$270,000 contract with Missouri Foundation for Health, Johego has been diligently preparing to launch Version 2.0 of our software in 18 additional counties across Northeast, Central, and Southwest Missouri, bringing our geographic coverage to the counties outlined in the map below:

Johego Geographic Coverage Map November 2018

If you are a social worker, nurse, police officer, or other public servant in one of the outlined counties, and if you would like to sign up for a free virtual or in-person training session for our new software, please send us a message using the contact form below:

    Your Name (required):

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    We are proud of our accomplishments over the past two years, and we are so excited to begin a new phase in our development. Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way.

    — Michael

    Want to support Johego or learn more? Follow us on social media & let us know what you think:


    Johego Joins Global Business Accelerator

    I am absolutely thrilled to inform you that Johego was accepted into StartX, one of the top three business accelerators in the world!

    2017 Accelerator Rankings
    Image Credit: Seed Accelerator Rankings Project

    The admission process for StartX is highly competitive, with only 8% of applications accepted. I will be joining StartX in Palo Alto, CA during their Summer 2018 cohort, receiving one-on-one mentorship from top Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, customized educational programming, fundraising support, and more. In the meantime, our data engineer Krushna and our frontend developer Michael will continue their work in St. Louis developing version two of our software, which is scheduled to launch this summer in Northeast, Central, and Southwest Missouri.

    StartX describes itself as “an educational non-profit that accelerates the development of Stanford’s top entrepreneurs through experiential education and collective intelligence.” I could not be more excited to participate.

    – Michael

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    Johego Wins Transportation Contract

    Improving Transportation in Northeast Missouri
    Photo Source: Wikipedia

    I am pleased to announce that Johego has secured a contract to improve transportation systems in Northeast Missouri, in partnership with Missouri Foundation for Health, Health Literacy Media, The Mission Center, Families and Communities Together, and OATS Transportation. As part of this contract, Johego will:

    • Expand and refine our app to include additional transportation providers located in Northeast Missouri.
    • Integrate Uber and Lyft functionality with our app to enable users to request rides to service providers listed in our directory.
    • Complete a public information campaign through various social and community media for the aforementioned transportation features to be made available through our app.
    • Conduct a frequency analysis of one year of OATS ridership and service denial data to inform future federal and foundation grant applications for sustainable expansion of transportation service and ridership in Northeast Missouri.

    During a series of community-based asset-mapping activities during late 2017 and early 2018, public service professionals from throughout Northeast Missouri identified transportation as a critical social determinant of health, affecting not only access to healthcare resources but also employment, social opportunities, and more, particularly for the poor and the elderly. We will keep you posted as this project progresses.

    – Michael

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    Johego Joins Regional Leadership Institute

    Leadership Northeast Missouri

    After a lengthy blog and social media hiatus, I am happy to report that I was one of 15 community leaders competitively selected for the inaugural class of Leadership Northeast Missouri, a regional leadership institute designed to help participants enhance their leadership skills and gain a deeper understanding of the region. During several all-day learning and networking sessions, I will have the opportunity to connect with other local leaders and develop strategies to address various issues facing the region, including:

    • Rural Broadband
    • Healthcare Infrastructure
    • Transportation Systems
    • Workforce Development
    • Navigating Government Systems

    I am particularly excited to see how Johego’s software can be modified to help address these issues. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing other significant updates as they occur.

    – Michael

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    Johego Wins $270,000 Contract

    I am thrilled to inform you that Missouri Foundation for Health has awarded Johego $270,000 to expand our services throughout Northeastern, Central, and Southwestern Missouri.

    This award represents a huge milestone in Johego’s development, and it occurs only nine months after securing our first customer in Hannibal, MO and only two months after winning the prestigious Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition at Washington University in St. Louis. This contract will enable Johego to, among other things:

    • Add 18 additional counties to our coverage area, allowing nearly 1.1 million Missourians to access our services.
    • Create a browser-based equivalent of our smartphone application so that anyone can search our directory using their laptop and desktop computers, including police officers in their squad cars.
    • Provide information about the hours of operation, financial requirements, and documentation requirements of services listed in our directory, enabling our users to more efficiently obtain the help they need.

    This also means that we are hiring.

    We are currently seeking to add two full-time staff members to our team: (1) a data engineer / backend developer and (2) a frontend developer / product designer. If you are interested in applying, please click on the image below. If you know someone who may be interested in using data science and software development to connect people in need with the services they need, please share this link with them via email or on social media.

    The Johego Team

    We would not be where we are today without the support of our friends, family, and colleagues in Decatur, Hannibal, St. Louis, and beyond. Thank you to everyone for your support!

    – Michael

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