Invent the Future has been one of Foursquare’s core values since the very beginning. These three simple words are meant to act as an actionable, guiding mantra for everyone at Foursquare to look to as they make complicated decisions, everyday. Everyone is encouraged to ask themselves if the work they are doing is helping to invent the future, and it’s this fundamental core value and belief in inventing a better future for all that was the inspiration for launching the Foursquare for Good program back in 2018.
The ask was simple. We called on academics, developers, philanthropists, and data scientists alike to submit proposals for how they would use Foursquare’s proprietary location technology, our Pilgrim SDK and Places API, to make the world a safer, smarter and more inclusive place. For the winner, we offer free access to our developer tools, critical engineering resources to help get the project live and in the wild, and a $10,000 donation to the winning organization’s cause.
This year, more than 40 organizations submitted proposals for how they would leverage location technology to power apps and services that help make a positive social impact and improve the way that people experience the world around them. We heard from organizations looking to do everything from making local volunteer opportunities easier to find, to services aimed at driving people to local minority- and women-owned businesses as a way to combat gentrification.
But one submission truly stood out among the rest for its commitment to solving one of the most pressing human-rights crises by helping persecuted LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in the U.S. and Canada to find easy access to critical, verified support. It’s our great pleasure and honor to announce that AsylumConnect has been named the 2019 winner of the Foursquare for Good program!
Tech nonprofit AsylumConnect has built the first and only digital resource platform for the tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers fleeing their homes and communities for safer ground each year (there are an estimated 45,000+ currently pending LGBTQ asylum claims in the U.S.).
Here are some stats that perhaps you didn’t know:
There are more than 70 countries that still criminalize homosexuality and/or homosexual conduct
Six of those countries have the death penalty for violating laws aimed at persecuting the LGBTQ+ community
It can cost anywhere from $6,000-$15,000 to find quality legal representation for asylum seekers in the US
AsylumConnect’s mission is to use technology to connect ALL marginalized LGBTQ+ people with on-demand access to information about safe services and support.
"If the AsylumConnect catalog had existed when I was applying for asylum it would have made my life much easier. AsylumConnect’s work truly saves lives. I was homeless for about three years because I could not find services for undocumented lesbians, work, or anyone who could explain to me how the immigration process work[ed] and what my options were." – Jacque Larrainzar, AsylumConnect Advisory Council member
Launched in 2016, the AsylumConnect Catalog is the first-ever web and mobile app resource (available in the Apple and Google Play stores) designed for members of the LGBTQ+ global community seeking refuge. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and related marginalized LGBTQ+ populations use AsylumConnect as a free, digital one-stop-shop referral site to meet their needs in all aspects of their lives, including: housing, legal, medical and mental health care, community, translation, education and employment.
AsylumConnect will leverage Foursquare’s Places API to highlight nearby places owned by and/or geared towards LGBTQ+ people per AsylumConnect’s database; integrate rich content like venue ratings, tips and photos to empower users with up-to-date information about venues; and enable users to search for venues in the AsylumConnect mobile app. The hope is that in the future AsylumConnect will also leverage Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK to enable context-aware, proactive notifications when users are nearby one of the nearly 1,500 services in the AsylumConnect database.
“We’re grateful to Foursquare for supporting LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and AsylumConnect at this pivotal moment for LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities in America. We’re excited to leverage Foursquare’s sophisticated location technology to integrate new ratings and reviews, photos and tips into our free mobile app to help better welcome and orient persecuted LGBTQ+ people to their new home.” - Katie Sgarro, AsylumConnect Co-Founder & President
Here’s what our panel of judges had to say about AsylumConnect:
"The work that AsylumConnect is doing for the LGBTQ+ community is more important now in 2019 than ever before. I am beyond proud to support them in their mission of providing access to care and resources for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, and that our technology is going to play even a small role in helping them improve the lives of their community of users." — Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Foursquare
“Persistent bigotry has met its match in AsylumConnect, which leverages technology to unlock opportunity and dignity for LGTBQ+ asylum seekers." — Shannon Farley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fast Forward
“AsylumConnect is a compelling example of leveraging location technologies to improve human lives. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers face overwhelming obstacles to establishing new lives in places where they will be safe. By pairing Foursquare's geo-aware dataset with an additional layer of context specific to the LGBTQ+ asylum seeker experience, AsylumConnect will empower their users to overcome those obstacles and find new, welcoming communities.” — Jeremy Tryba, SVP of Engineering at Foursquare
“AsylumConnect demonstrates the value of place and proximity in bringing people together to build stronger, more connected communities. The nonprofit promotes one of many exciting use cases of Foursquare’s location technology to drive meaningful social impact and reach through its app.” - Natalie Hwang, Managing Director and Head of Simon Ventures.