#1.10 Jonathan Kumar: Using Technology to Help Seattle's Homeless

Will you invest in Wendy with us?

At the top of the show we mentioned that it's Rise Seattle's tenth episode. To celebrate we would love for you to join us in helping our neighbor and GiveSafe beacon holder, Wendy. Wendy is a South Carolina native that moved to Seattle 5 years ago with her significant other Aaron.  Aaron was recently arrested for domestic violence and now Wendy is trying to get to California to be with her grandkids. She's currently selling Real Change papers and saving up for the move.  You can invest in Wendy here and learn more about her story here

Show Notes

Jonathan Kumar founded GiveSafe with a goal to bridge the giving gap between people living on the streets and those who may want to pass along a few dollars when asked.

When it comes to homelessness, most people want to help in some way.  People in Seattle are especially willing to help.  Seattle is a city where benevolence, philanthropy and giving run deep.  But one major internal conflict experienced in the minds of potential givers is concern over how those few dollars will be spent.

The stereotype of homeless individuals begging for change and eventually spending that money on drugs or alcohol is a real concern.  For instance, in our interview with Jeff Lilley of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, he offered that Seattle doesn’t have a homeless problem…we have a drug problem.

So Jonathan Kumar created a company with a mission to create a system of giving that is safe for both the giver and receiver.

GiveSafe provides inexpensive Bluetooth beacons to select individuals living on the streets of Seattle.  They select these individuals by working closely with various social service organizations that help identify people ready for such a program. 

When a beacon holder passes by a GiveSafe app user, the user’s phone is alerted.  The beacon holder’s story appears and the giver can then make a giving decision.  As the beacon holder’s GiveSafe account grows, they can then visit select establishments to buy groceries, clothes, toiletries and other necessities.

What caught our attention at Rise Seattle are two things:

  1. A giver can learn about a beacon holder’s story.  We at Rise Seattle love the concept of ‘story’ and believe that every person is the hero of their own story.  So we love that GiveSafe helps to personalize and humanize the giving of money to people in need. 
  2. GiveSafe encourages givers to tell beacon holders personally that a donation was made to their account.  Again, this helps humanize the experience for everyone.

Jonathan and GiveSafe are in the early days but are already seeing great strides.  He’s been featured on local news and are working on building the number of beacon holders as well as givers who carry the app on their phone.

So go download the GiveSafe app and start giving! 

Download for iphone

Download for android

For the holiday season, we are going to run a giving campaign around one specific beacon holder with GiveSafe.  Click on the link below to give directly to her beacon.  Any amount will help!  We are aiming to load her beacon with $250 before Christmas.  Let’s do it people!  àEnter link here. And possibly move this to top of page.

GiveSafe Media:

 Watch full video here.

Watch full video here.