Blue Ridge Labs


Technology has the potential to help solve many problems. Today technology helps makes a lot of tasks easier, but these solutions are not for everyone and don’t generally tackle the toughest problems New Yorkers face.

Our goal for the Fellowship is to create products and services that help solve real problems our communities face. Tech builders — designers, product managers and engineers — and experts participate in workshops, create teams, and work directly alongside the community to design and build new products and services.

Fellows spend two months doing intensive, community-centric research to scope and define potential solutions. They then have another two months to build, test, and launch their ideas. Past Fellows have built venture-backed companies, tech-enabled nonprofits, open source projects, and more.

We’re looking for potential Fellows who are ruthlessly dedicated to addressing the most pressing issues for low-income communities in NYC, both getting an idea off the ground and sustaining it long-term.

Apply Now!

Key Dates

Fellowship runs:
June 26, 2023 -
October 27, 2023

Application opens:
March 13, 2023

Application closes:
April 14, 2023 11:59PM

Deadline extended for all applicants to April 18 11:59PM

April 17, 2023-
May 2, 2023

(required to attend):
May 13 (all day)

Final decisions sent
May 17, 2023

Watch our Webinar to learn more!

The Challenge

The 2023 Fellowship will focus on building healthy futures for children experiencing poverty in NYC.

During the pandemic, due in large part to the expanded Child Tax Credit, significant progress was made as a country, and particularly in New York City, in reducing child poverty. Data from Robin Hood’s most recent Poverty Tracker show a 68 percent drop in child poverty in NYC in 2021. The Child Tax Credit has expired and New York’s youngest will be at tremendous risk for the well-documented, profound and long-lasting health and mental health repercussions of poverty.

This year, Blue Ridge Labs proposes to explore how we can build tools to enable healthier lives for children experiencing poverty in NYC.

Questions guiding the design challenge include:

❇︎ How might technology bridge gaps between parents who have income and time, and those who don’t, especially when it comes to healthcare, mental health, food access, and behavioral outcomes?
❇︎ Can we make technology solutions for health and mental health more local and/or site-specific?
❇︎ How can we improve telehealth services for people living in poverty?
❇︎ How might technology lessen the effects of poverty on the lives of children?
❇︎ How might technology prepare children experiencing poverty today to be ready to build futures out of poverty tomorrow?

Issues we seek to explore include (but are not limited to):
❇︎ Expansion of health and mental health access for children
❇︎ Expansion of health and mental health access for pregnant people including exploration of dyadic care models
❇︎ Leveraging and expanding access to existing public interventions such as those in Medicaid and WIC programs
❇︎ Access to nutritious food and hunger prevention
❇︎ Access to social experiences and enrichment activities (e.g. reading with a parent) that affect long term behavioral outcomes
❇︎ Wraparound support for children experiencing homelessness

What we provide:

  • Funding. A full-time stipend of $25,000, health insurance premium reimbursement, and research budget

  • Co-founders. A cohort of talented peers with complementary skills

  • Access. The chance to connect with hundreds of users and experts through our Design Insight Group and community partners

  • Community. An ecosystem of high-impact startups and mentors

Note: You must be eligible to work in the U.S. We unfortunately are unable to sponsor visas at this time. Because the Fellowship will be hybrid and require some in-person sessions, we require compliance with Robin Hood’s COVID-19 protocols.


We think the group benefits from a wide range of backgrounds, and all Fellows apply to fill one of four roles — expert, engineer, product manager, or designer. Past Fellows have included everything from former employees of top tech companies, folks from design and software agencies, and exited founders to journalists, social workers, and lawyers.

The strongest Fellowship candidates tend to:

  • Fellows will be expected to bring expertise in their role from day one. The strongest candidates have sufficient professional experience to jump right in.

    If you are an Expert candidate, see here for a deeper description of what an expert in this year's topic looks like:

  • Fellows should be committed to community-centered design, that means co-creating a new technology-enabled solution with the community. If you already have a venture or idea, this is unfortunately not the right opportunity for you. But we do encourage you to consider Catalyst, our later-stage program, in that case.

  • Fellows are excited to explore a variety of ideas and would consider continuing to pursue their venture post-Fellowship. We hope the Fellowship will lead some (or all!) of you to become founders!

  • Fellows are excited to develop and use skills outside of your immediate role. For example, engineers may not do much if any coding during the first half of the program. The best fit candidates are excited to explore and lean in on a broad set of skills.

  • Fellows have a track record of action on issues they’re passionate about. We want to see that you’ve dug in on understanding problems and figuring out possible solutions. It could be an open source side project, a tool you hacked together for the place you volunteer, a change you helped enact in your community, or research you’ve led to explore a new issue.

We are committed to fostering a community that values diverse perspectives and experiences, particularly from those who we aim to serve. We actively seek applicants from, or who have worked closely with, historically marginalized groups, including but not limited to: people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ people, first- or second-generation immigrants, and people from low-income families.


Design Fellows bring experience in UI/UX, visual, or research design.

We’re looking for candidates who are comfortable conducting interviews and focus groups and have a bag of tricks they use to draw out insights and feedback. Within a team, they’ll often be responsible for planning and leading research conversations, building rapid prototypes, and ensuring digital products are delightful, easy to use, and visually appealing.

Ashley Treni

I feel quite lucky to say that I am still working on a project that came out of that summer, so it’s without a doubt the best thing I took from that experience was meeting my team!… If you told me at the start of the Fellowship this is where I would be today, I would have never thought it possible, and can’t imagine anything else I’d rather be doing.


Engineering Fellows bring experience in full stack development.

Ideally with prior project work in mobile web, web applications, or third party APIs. We’re looking for candidates who write concise, clean code but also understand that part of building technology is getting out and talking to people. Within a team, they’ll often be responsible for picking the platform, building the architecture, and setting the plan for implementation.

Michael Hassin

Affiliation with Robin Hood grants unparalleled access… Having both the time to prototype things and the chance to get feedback from everyone from tenant organizers to directors of legal aid organizations to everyday people who are the unofficial ‘mayors’ of their communities is what lets the magic happen.


Expert Fellows bring a deep knowledge of the challenge area

whether that comes from academic research, frontline service, personal experience, policy or advocacy. We’re looking for candidates who have a perspective on where opportunities may lie and a strong desire to share their expertise with others. Within a team, they’ll often be responsible for framing the research agenda, identifying resources, and building networks and partnerships.

Selma Jackson

The Fellowship was recommended by a friend and my initial reaction was to pass. I doubted I would be selected because my technology skills were limited. But after experiencing a 92-year-old mistreated by Access-A-Ride, the community activist in me quickly opened the application and applied.


Product Fellows bring experience in product management/ history of prior entrepreneurship.

We’re looking for candidates who can translate a big vision into a product roadmap and are skilled at finding and capturing market opportunities. Within a team, they’ll often be responsible for defining and testing assumptions, owning the product roadmap, and figuring out how the product fits into the broader ecosystem.

Jimmy Chen

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Fellowship, it’s that there are not nearly enough talented technologists working on the problems faced by low-income Americans. The Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to dive into some truly important problems – don’t pass it up.