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.”
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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