BigApps is the premier showcase of NYC’s tech ecosystem. It’s a competition that empowers New York’s sharpest minds to solve the city’s toughest challenges through technology, making NYC a better place to Live, Work, Learn, and Play. Whether you’re a hacker or a maker, a designer or an investor, a novice or a pro, we provide resources that make it easy to make a difference. Come to build. Come to network. Come to win.

NYC BigApps 2014 is an initiative of NYCEDC to promote government transparency and the creation of innovative new technologies. Following NYC BigApps 2013, this year’s event is the fifth annual run of the competition and is being managed by HR&A Advisors in collaboration with Super Vision and Splash.

Connect students to targeted college, career readiness, and youth development programs.

Our Challenge to You

Only 25% of New York City public school students graduate prepared for college and careers. However, studies show that programs that build college and career readiness minimize the opportunity gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers. Many NYC public school students lack career exposure and network connections; on average, each NYC guidance or career counselor is responsible for connecting 493 students to programs that help build essential academic and interpersonal skills and facilitate internship opportunities.

With these caseloads, it’s almost impossible for counselors to help students find and apply for the opportunities they need. Furthermore, no central program or searchable database exists to aid counselors, parents, and students to overcome this information gap. Unless a program has the resources to reach out to students consistently, only the most well-connected or self-sufficient students will find and access enrichment opportunities that will support their college and career success.

We believe a search app and website will allow students to identify opportunities suited to their needs, build essential skills, and empower them to reach their potential.

Product Wish List

We are looking for a multi-sided platform that will enable the following users to:
• Search for programs that fit their profile (GPA, interests, age, location, etc.), unique needs, interests, and experiences
• Create a profile with basic information including name, school, grade, program interests, GPA, and experience
• Get notifications when new programs become available, deadlines are approaching, or program enrollment opens

• Search for programs that fit their students’ profiles, needs, interests, and experiences
• Share (via email or social media) program info with students
• Create a school profile that describes student population, demographics, theme/focus (law, medicine, vocational, etc.)

Program staff (non-profit enrichment programs, pre-college summer programs, internship programs, career readiness programs, academic enrichment programs):
• Submit descriptions of programs, including:
     -Program requirements: deadlines, age range, experience, school attended, target demographic (if applicable, for example,         African American girls), time commitment
     -Ideal candidate profile
     -Cost (if any) and opportunities for financial aid
     -Wage or compensation to student (if applicable)
     -Link to website and application requirements
• Search for students that fit program requirements via their profiles

In an ideal world, this product would also:
• Allow for program ratings and reviews
• Allow students/applicants to contact staff directly from the site
• Allow students to connect with past program participants and ask for their experience/assistance in applying
• Extend to middle school students and programs.


  • Strategic introductions to high-level corporate leaders with the capacity to provide coaching and/or business strategy advice.

    Ongoing product promotion on our organization’s website, newsletter, and social media.

  • Promotion to our network of nearly 300 schools that enroll a total of 155,000 students as well as to our Department of Education contacts.

    Promotion to our network of business and non-profit partners.

Evaluation Criteria

User friendly - The app should be easily accessible to students, parents, school staff, and program staff that want to submit program information; it should take into account varying levels of technical proficiency.
Engaging- The app should solve the problem in a creative and innovative way,and encourage students to make frequent use of app.
Technical proficiency - The app should be bug free.
Search functionality - The app should provide users with relevant and reliable search results and allow for easy modification of searches.

BigIdea Mentors

Marina Zhavoronkova

Marina manages the PENCIL Fellows Program, a career readiness program for NYC public school juniors & seniors that includes a paid, six-week internship.

Melissa Leitman

Melissa leads PENCIL’s programmatic work in the area of College and Career Readiness. She has a background in program development and policy analysis focusing on education.


Do you have an idea on how to improve our challenge?


Teams Tackling This Issue

A breakdown of all of our notable events, past and present.

What is NYC BigApps?

BigApps is the premier showcase of NYC's tech ecosystem. It's a competition that empowers New York's sharpest minds to solve the City's toughest challenges through technology, making NYC a better place to Live, Work, Learn, and Play. Whether you're a hacker or an engineer, a designer or an investor, a novice or a pro, we provide resources that make it easy to make a difference. Come to build. Come to solve. Come to win.


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