Yesterday afternoon the Huffington Post hosted a nonpartisan panel and lunch to discuss the issue of jobs and the best ways to create more opportunities for the more than 20 million people who are currently unemployed or underemployed. The event titled, "What Is Working," included panelists such as Ohio Governor John Kasich, conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham, Judith Rodin from The Rockefeller Foundation, and Tom Brokaw who served as moderator. About 300 people were in attendance. While discussing the realities of the current job market, the panelists also infused hope for improving the situation. Judith Rodin, CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation stated that the "innovative spirit of American communities is alive and well," and backed up the statement by announcing a $1 million prize for the best ideas to support small businesses and find jobs for young people.
Ladies and gentlemen, we want to tell you that we believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of the American population. So we're offering a $1 million prize for the best scalable ideas for how to grow small business, particularly to hire young people. We're going to do this competition virally; watch for us on The Huffington Post and Twitter. We really think that those ideas are out there. We've used prizes before to galvanize incredibly great ideas, and then we're going to take them to scale.
Also present were over 70 entrepreneurs who were given the opportunity to showcase their talents. Adam Goldberg, Founder and CEO of myEdGPS, was among the entrepreneurs and was promoting his technology that helps parents of special education students navigate the complicated area of special education processes and laws. According to Goldberg, there are more than 19 million children in the U.S. with special needs and parents are generally left to find the information and resources they need on their own, which can be a daunting and costly experience. myEdGPS is a website that parents can utilize, at no cost, to take charge of their child's education. It offers individual action plans, organization tools and matching to partner programs and providers who've been vetted by the company in order to participate. In addition, the site offers letter generators that help parents correspond with schools and providers. The site will officially launch in early 2013.
Another education tool on display was Via Response, which seeks to help communication in higher education. Also free for users, it helps teachers conduct polls, quiz students and participate in message boards all online. For students, Via Response gives them the ability to use their smart devices to check on participation, homework, quizzes and attendance. Additionally, they can ask their professors questions via the app on their smartphone; which will be invaluable for students in very large classes and students participating in distance courses. Via Response is currently available online and in mobile app stores.
"What Is Working" included a variety of businesses like Prioria Robotics who were on hand with their Maveric UAS - a lightweight, single-man portable drone that can be used in military, civilian and commercial applications. Derek Lyons, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, explained one potential use in the commercial market in the case of a fire emergency. First responders could use the Maveric to detect the heat source and then fight the fire more efficiently, using less water and concentrating on the areas of the structure where the fires are originating. As the technology is new for commercial application and will add cost to their budgets, the company is working to provide grants to help local law enforcements afford the Maveric.
Said Arianna Huffington in an interview with RedState's Ben Howe, "Because of the jobs crisis, we cannot just wait for government to do something. We need to do our part to put the spotlight on entrepreneurs and startups and what is working in America." She added that while people may disagree politically, the need to support entrepreneurs and startups is an area that we can agree on. The Huffington Post has been getting commitments from foundations and businesses that will help to accelerate job creation and will be hosting another expo at the DNC on Wednesday, September 5th from 12:30 to 5:30 at the Ritz Carlton in Charlotte.