Did you ever experience the troubles of keeping track of your community service hours in high school? With multiple requirements and procedures students must worry about when seeking volunteer opportunities and recording hours, it is often difficult to truly enjoy the meaning behind community service. Emmet Reilly (’21, Communication) looked to create a medium that combines students’ passion for community service and the way students use technology today through inServe: a community service platform that connects student volunteers with opportunities around them and allows them to record their required hours without the hassle of traditional paperwork.
inServe uses geolocation to connect students with local volunteer opportunities and allows students to record their required hours directly through their mobile iOS or Android device. If a school decides to use the app, their students can download the app, create an account for free, and then sign up directly for community service opportunities on their feed, all of which would be opportunities approved by or from their own high schools. This easy-to-use interface facilitates the communication channel between students and nonprofits looking for local volunteers, at no cost to both parties, but has the school serve as the important intermediary to completely monitor the process.
The key factor is the triangular relationship created between students, their high schools, and participating volunteer organizations. In addition to approving events for their students to sign up for, schools use geolocation to see when its students step into the volunteer site and when they leave—automatically recording the number of hours under each student’s profile. The system can also verify any signatures the students must obtain on their phone after volunteering, making the overall process administratively efficient and secure from students’ phones to the central web platform. inServe charges high schools a yearly flat fee for using the system, although schools are encouraged to obtain sponsorships from businesses to cover this cost.
inServe was founded and launched for testing when Reilly was a senior in high school. After refining and expanding the product, a second version launched in the beginning of 2018 and tested for user experience during this past winter break. “We’ve worked closely with schools and nonprofits in California, such as L.A. Works, Big Sunday, and Harvard-Westlake High School, to develop the current product and its user base in the Los Angeles area,” says Reilly.
With users in California and a fully developed product, inServe is now looking to establish a strong presence in the Ithaca area. “My goal by the end of the year is to partner with high schools and nonprofits in Ithaca,” Reilly mentions. Down the road, the team hopes to further expand into other parts of California and New York City after cementing a strong user base.
In terms of inServe’s competition, Reilly sees limited to no competitors due to the lack of security on other app platforms on the market and inServe’s appealing user interface. Reilly also believes that inServe’s personal understanding of the millennial market gives the them a huge plus in the process, since this three-player market is not commonly tapped into.
Although inServe’s app functions look to increase security and usability from all parties, the main reason Reilly and his co-founders created inServe surfaced from the gap they saw between their own passion for community service and school requirements. “By just signing up and putting your phone away, you are able to really focus on what you are doing. We think this enables individuals to learn and get the most out of the community service, which is incredibly rewarding,” Reilly remarks.