Joshua To


Grant Awarded: $16,750

BRUTE LABS uses design and technology to foster sustainable social entrepreneurship. Its small, all-volunteer team has launched 11 projects around the world and across a broad spectrum of causes, from cyclone relief in Myanmar, to clean water wells in Ghana, to a bio-diesel project done with Stanford University.

Over 3 million Americans, nearly one million of whom are children, experience homelessness every year. Although San Francisco is amongst the wealthiest cities in the nation, it is also home to one of the country's largest homeless populations. In San Francisco alone, there are estimated to be over 8,600 homeless. New York, by comparison, has 20 times the population with a homeless population of roughly 7,000. These individuals often lack adequate access to information about food, shelter, medical and transportation services that are available to help them, as well as the laws that may affect them. projectOPEN aims to address their pervasive plight using design and technology to bridge this information gap.

In collaboration with the City of San Francisco, BRUTE LABS applied its Ideas that Matter grant to designing and printing an informational map for the city’s homeless. Icons and color-coding on the map show the locations of social services and public transportation routes to these locations. To assist projectOPEN partners in networking and collaborating on ways to improve the lives of the homeless, BRUTE LABS also created web and mobile-accessible resources, including a database on Google Maps. The database will form the framework for scaling projectOPEN to other cities in the future.