Take the #PhonelessFriday Challenge

Take the #PhonelessFriday Challenge

How Long Can You Go… Announcing the #PhonelessFriday Challenge for the month of December! Each Friday this month, try going without using your mobile phone and time how long you last. Every Friday during December, turn off your mobile phone for the day If you need to use your phone, log the time of day on Facebook or Twitter, and tag with #PhonelessFriday Challenge friends and family to do the same Why is a mobile company asking people to use their phones less? Glad you asked! #PhonelessFriday was created to draw attention to a new program, Mobile4All, and how much so many of us rely on our phones, as well as how our lives would be impacted by not having it for a day… getting directions, talking to our families, making business calls, getting a Lyft, finding out where to catch the bus, texting friends, sending a tweet, and the list goes on. Did you know the U.S. has one of the most expensive mobile phone services in the world? This is a barrier to many low-income people who need mobile phones to communicate with potential employers and landlords, follow-up with case managers, schedule medical appointments, and connect with friends and relatives. People with very few resources face a choice between unaffordable mobile phone services, and unreliable public programs that offer extremely limited talk time and text messages. Often on pre-paid plans with “burner phones,” many low-income people do not have a phone number they can keep, or regular access to voicemail. Going without your phone too hard to imagine? In lieu of giving up your phone for a day, consider helping someone in need get connected by making a contribution to...
Mobile4All: It’s a Launch!

Mobile4All: It’s a Launch!

On October 30th, Mobile4All, an initiative designed to end homelessness in the Bay Area and beyond, launched at Grace Baptist Church in San Jose, California. On that day, 55 Downtown Streets team members—people without housing in the heart of Silicon Valley—received brand new Google Nexus 5 smartphones, training and service via Sparrow. A Community Technology Alliance (CTA) program, in partnership with Downtown Streets (DTS) and Sparrow, the launch represents the culmination of over two years of research and effort. In addition, Google donated over 1000 devices to support the program. “It’s amazing how something most of us take for granted—a smartphone with reliable service, regular access to voicemail, and a number you can keep—can make a big difference in someone’s life. Mobile4All is the only plan in the country designed to help homeless citizens get back on their feet.” ~ Jen Padgett, CEO, Community Technology Alliance Mobile4All combines digital access and skills training as a way to connect homeless citizens with health, family, housing and pathways to self sufficiency. Participants work, volunteer, and share progress updates to benchmark and measure how owning their own smartphone, having a number they can keep, access to voicemail, and key contact numbers (simple things we all take for granted) impact and improve their life. We’d like to recognize Sparrow team member, June, for activating and supporting pilot participants without a hitch. And end with an extra big shout out to CTA, DTS, and especially to Allan Baez, Mobile4All’s visionary, for making this beautiful dream a reality. We’re honored to support this impactful program through Mobile for All and tailor-made service. #Together we can end homelessness. Read the program announcement from CTA...
Sparrow Pilot Customers Activate E-readers for Students in Kenya

Sparrow Pilot Customers Activate E-readers for Students in Kenya

Mobile for All: Worldreader Classroom Kit Delivered! On September 1, 2014, students from the Oltikampu School, located in rural Kenya, were greeted with Kindle e-readers—one for each student. Loaded with thousands of digital books and delivered by Mobile for All giving partner, Worldreader, the classroom kit was made possible by our fabulous pilot customers. For these kids, having an e-reader to bring home has a huge impact on their ability to succeed in school. Many of the Oltikampu students often get a late start in school because of long distances and mountainous terrain. Because of the late start, often these students are embarrassed for being older and behind other students, which can make them more likely to drop out. Other challenges to schooling are the pressures for girls to drop out for marriage and for boys to help with agricultural labor at home. Bridging the Digital Divide & Closing the Gender Gap Through the classroom kits, based on benchmarks set and closely tracked by Worldreader, literacy rates improve across the board, with an even greater increase in literacy for girls. Girls frequently miss more school due to domestic duties like caring for younger siblings and household chores. In addition, we all know that boys and girls tend to learn differently. Through this program, girls and boys can learn at their own pace and in their own way, and everyone benefits. Program at a Glance Giving Partner Worldreader Mission End illiteracy worldwide Donation Location Oltikampu School, Kenya Program E-reader Classroom Kits Total # of devices 50 E-readers. One per child E-reader usage E-readers are taken home overnight and on weekends Total # of people impacted 50 students + family and community members. According to Worldreader, on...
Mobile for All: Climate, Poverty & Protecting Rainforests

Mobile for All: Climate, Poverty & Protecting Rainforests

TREE-lighted! Thanks to BetterWorld customers and in celebration of Climate Summit 2014, we are TREE-lighted to donate 10 reclaimed Android phones to Rainforest Connection. These smartphones will be used as rainforest guardians—kitted out and installed in trees to listen for unwelcome sounds like buzz saws and trucks. Powered by solar panels and looking like robotic blooms, the devices listen 24-7 for unnatural sounds. If a bzzzzzz, vrrrrrrrm, or other disruptive sound is detected, they send an alert to local authorities to help thwart illegal logging. Forests are amazing carbon sinks—holding as much as 283 gigatons of carbon, according to UNECE. And in keeping with our Mobile for All mission, the link between poverty and deforestation is well established; right alongside the link between quality of the environment and quality of life. We’re positively delighted to support this innovative effort in celebration of Climate Summit 2014 and in the spirit of #mobileforgood. About Rainforest Connection Rainforest Connection (RFCx) transforms waste (discarded smartphones) into a scalable real-time detection system that prevents forest destruction. Their objective is to prevent global deforestation with an affordable, scalable and effective system to intervene against illegal logging of rainforests, thereby helping solve some of the world’s most pressing problems: climate change and species extinction. Learn more at rfcx.org Phone Drive! Got an old smartphone gathering dust in a drawer? Rainforest Connection is looking for 50 additional phones. Send your old smartphones to Sparrow and we’ll add them to the Rainforest Connection tree package and give you a $25 credit towards your next bill. Sparrow 1355 Market Street, Suite 488 San Francisco, CA 94114 Attention: Trees Note: When you send in your old phone, remember to include a note with your name, Sparrow mobile number (or...
Make a Difference – Just by Using Your Phone

Make a Difference – Just by Using Your Phone

By Darian Rodriguez Heyman, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer, Sparrow. Originally published on the GivingTuesday Blog on July 10, 2014.  What would happen if we took the most accessible tool in the world—the mobile phone–and used it to drive social change? And what if we could use phones to not only connect folks to one another, but to opportunity? The answer to that question led to the creation of a mission-led mobile company, Sparrow. We focus on serving the unique needs of the US’ 1.7M nonprofits, saving them money by only charging them for the minutes, messages, and megs they actually use, and even better, we donate a free phone or tablet to people in need for every customer. We’re launching the #MobileForGood movement, and when Giving Tuesday and 92Y-affiliated nonprofits sign up, a child will learn to read thanks to our nonprofit partner, Worldreader. They distribute tablets pre-loaded with books in the native language to help eradicate illiteracy, and doing good doesn’t have to cost you anything: in fact, 94% of our customers actually save money when switching, and TechSoup-registered nonprofits save an additional 5% off any of our plans and get a free smartphone if you sign a one-year contract. It’s no secret that mobile technology is a powerful tool in driving meaningful social change. Many organizations, international development practitioners, and governments have implemented mobile initiatives that have seen greater impact in less time than traditional aid approaches. Mobile is a tool that can be used for education, agriculture, safety, and more. The Sparrow has applied the well-known “One for One” philanthropic model pioneered by TOMS Shoes to mobile. We truly believe in the power of...