The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) has a number of tools in its toolkit focused on improving the quality of life in America by advancing an understanding of rural issues and engaging many of the impacted communities in this quest. There are so very many tools that FRS staff use to achieve their mission but I am particularly excited about their most recent effort to launch an inaugural Rural Youth App Challenge which asks students to develop concepts for mobile apps that would address a problem or improve a process in their rural community or in rural America at-large. Each team was supported by a member of NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association.
FRS announced today that the Speed Geeks, a team of students sponsored by Endeavor Communications (Cloverdale, Ind.) is this year’s Rural Youth App Challenge winner. Each member of the five-person team will receive a $200 Amazon gift card and a yearlong subscription to Codecademy Pro, thanks to the sponsorship of NISC and Mapcom Systems. (And a huge shout-out to these two associate members for seeing the potential and supporting this app challenge effort!)
The Speed Geeks’ app aims to connect members of the community with free tech support to ensure they are maximizing the usefulness of various devices. The innovation of the Speed Geeks’ approach is to let members of the community who have tech knowledge connect with members of the community that need tech help. The application demonstrates a deep personal knowledge of the benefits and challenges of living in a rural community and a commitment to improving the quality of life in Cloverdale. I really admire the way these young folks came up with a way to leverage the gig economy by connecting their rural community to free tech support and I also appreciate the commitment that Endeavor has made in supporting these leaders of tomorrow.
The runners-up in this year’s app challenge included Water to Land, an app that would allow visitors to maximize their visits to a local state park; Cowculator, an app that aims to make the lives of cattle farmers easier; and AgExp, an app that would help farmers better manage crops and livestock. Is there anything better than next-gen leadership looking for ways to solve problems their communities are facing?
Our FRS Director, Jessica Golden noted how impressed the FRS team was by the results of this first-ever app challenge and how the entries received were thoughtful and diverse in approach. This reinforces the fact that students throughout rural America are passionate about serving and improving their communities.
The Rural Youth App Challenge is the latest way FRS has engaged youth in rural America. Earlier this month, FRS announced the names of 53 students who were awarded academic scholarships by the foundation. Next month, FRS will welcome dozens of high school students from rural areas to Washington, D.C., for its annual Youth Tour. Nothing like 117 rural youth under our care to keep our FRS team on their toes! In cooperation with NTCA and its nearly 850 member companies, FRS consistently finds innovative ways to harness the power of the rural communications industry to enrich lives. You can read more about the App Challenge Winners and the work of FRS online.