Bryan O’Hagan is Awarded the Latest Computer Science Scholarship to Aid a Non-Profit

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

By Morgan Steward*

Bryan O'Hagan (seated center) with Casey's parents and Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients Cynthia Mendoza (R) and Katie Heinen

Bryan O”Hagan (seated center) with Casey’s parents and Alternative Spring Break scholarship recipients Cynthia Mendoza (R) and Katie Heinen

Bryan O’Hagan, a University of Colorado Boulder student, is the latest recipient of a Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation computer science scholarship. The scholarship provides a stipend to a student to provide computer and IT services to a non-profit organization which does not  have the funds necessary to meet the technology needs necessary to advance their mission. It gives the student the opportunity to practice his or her computer science and IT skills in a real-world setting and at the same time, experience the joy of community service.

“I enjoy working for organizations that promote a strong social cause,” O’Hagan explained. This is what initially enticed him to apply for the Foundation’s computer science scholarship in the first place.

O’Hagan first became interested in computer programming and web development after taking a course in the subject at the University of Colorado. “I instantly fell in love [with] the endless possibilities a developer can create on the web,” O’Hagan explained. With this newfound passion discovered, he then became determined to find an internship in the field in an effort to continue to develop the skills he learned in this class.

O’Hagan chose to work for Natural Capitalism Solutions, a company that educates senior decision-makers in business, government and civil society about the principles of sustainability.  The Longmont, Colorado company does this by creating practical tools and simple implementation strategies for companies, communities and countries.

During his internship, O’Hagan was able to learn several valuable industry skills. “I was able to learn so much,” O’Hagan explained. “I [got] a better understanding of industry tools, coding languages, and web development techniques.”

However, O’Hagan also learned a different valuable skill set: communication skills. Through this position, O’Hagan was charged with working directly with clients to provide them the technological services they required. “This was my first experience where I had to work with a client,” he said. “I enjoyed the process of brainstorming ideas, creating a plan, and finally creating a website that both the customer and I enjoyed.”

In total, O’Hagan redesigned three of Natural Capitalism Solution’s websites—a task that the company would not have been able to do without him.

Participating in this program made O’Hagan realize that he wished to pursue web development and computer services as a career after he graduates from the University of Colorado Boulder.

“The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation Computer Science Program is one of the highlights of my college career,” O’Hagan said. “I hope other students can find their passion through this program.”

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morgan-steward2-1-150x150*Morgan Steward is a sophomore Communication and Media Studies student at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (Casey’s alma mater). Born in Beaumont, TX, she to moved to New York City to pursue a career in the media.

Scholarship recipient thanks Foundation for “one of the highlights of my academic career”

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The Casey Feldman Foundation has a program that pays stipends to computer science students to work for non-profits. The computer science student receives valuable experience and the non-profit gets necessary IT help that it might not otherwise be able to afford. The following letter is from one of our scholarship recipients who talks about how her experience this spring aided both I Have a Dream Foundation and herself.

IHAD

 

 

 

Dear Ms. Dianne Anderson and Mr. Joel Feldman,

I would like to thank you and the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation for funding my internship at the I Have A Dream Foundation of Boulder County (IHAD)*.  This experience was one of the highlights of my academic career at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Without the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, I could have missed out on a opportunity that has allowed me to grow as an individual, give back to the community, and further develop my computer science skills.

I always find great pleasure in any kind of volunteer work, when the opportunity to volunteer arises. Whether it’s volunteering for senior living centers or the kitchens of homeless shelters, the experience grounds me, and I’m thankful for the opportunities and resources that I have been given.

Anna Yudina

Scholarship recipient Anna Yudina

I first heard about the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation through an email that was sent out by the computer science-jobs committee.  As I read about the opportunity, to help non-profits with my computer science skills, I realized that I could help the organizations further their missions and help them grow. In today’s society, technology is a crucial part of businesses and organizations. It helps them to advance and to reach out to new people. I could accomplish all of these things by helping the organizations on any computer science related projects. In a way, I would be giving back to the organizations, which provide continuous opportunities for people to volunteer in their local communities.

The primary work that I did, while I interned at I Have A Dream Foundation (IHAD) of Boulder County, was working with Salesforce, a cloud-computing database. The primary issue that IHAD had with the database was that some of the staff, program directors, and the AmeriCorps, who had little or no experience with Salesforce, were not certain on how to use the database and more importantly how to use it correctly.

The first week of my internship, I learned about Salesforce and how IHAD uses the database, as their Salesforce database account was custom tailored for  the organization’s structure. One of the previous Salesforce interns created a manual that was hosted on Google sites, so I followed the manual and continued to explore the database’s capabilities.

After my first week, Ms. Williamson, who oversaw my internship, asked me to interview certain people that frequently use the Salesforce database, and try to pinpoint any major issues about the database that could be fixed. When I completed the interviews, the common theme, for all interviews, was that people wished there was some sort of reference tool that they could refer to if they weren’t sure how to enter something into the database. They didn’t know that there was a Salesforce manual.

The manual was created on a platform that can’t easily be accessed, and it can only be accessed if one is on their Gmail account and they have the access link.  My solution to this problem was to recreate the manual on a more accessible platform, WordPress. For the remaining portion of my internship, I worked on the manual.

In this internship, I learned how to use Salesforce and further developed my problem solving skills. I was given a problem and through the interviews and the creation of the manual, I came up with a viable solution. The fact that I worked with one of the newest and in demand technology has given me more chances at future internships and jobs.

Once again, I give thanks to you and the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. I couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful opportunity. Not only did I gain invaluable skills through the internship, but I also helped an outstanding organization that truly has an amazing purpose. When time permits, I look forward to going back to IHAD as a volunteeer to continue to help this wonderful non-profit.

Sincerely,

Anna Yudina

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* IHAD is dedicated to helping low-income youths achieve a brighter future through a long-term, comprehensive educational and cultural enrichment program. The IHAD Foundation “adopts” groups of 50 low-income students, “Dreamers” in third grade who are deemed to be at high risk of dropping out of school. They hire a project coordinator and establish a learning center exclusively for that group and provide the Dreamers a year-round program of tutoring, mentoring, after-school enrichment, computer technology training, life and social skills, and college and career preparation until they finish high school. The Dreamers ultimately receive a four-year tuition-assistance scholarship for college or vocational school.

Read about how our previous scholarship recipients have assisted IHAD:

I Have a Dream – “This was the best and most beneficial summer of my life”

PIIE Awards First Casey Feldman Foundation Memorial Scholarship

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that we may continue our good work in aiding non-profits, providing scholarship recipients with practical work experience and the gratification of service for the greater good.

 

University of Colorado student uses Foundation support to solve computer science problems at local non-profit

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

By Ashley Jeanne Dernaley (WennersHerron)*

 

Zach Doyle

Zach Doyle

Zach Doyle can’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in computer science.

“I spent most of my childhood summers attending and, later, working at, computer camp in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland,” Zach said. “I’ve always liked the unambiguous nature of formal languages and the underlying logic they express.”

Thanks to The Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation, Zach, currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, had the opportunity to expand and apply his programming skills in a big way. He was awarded a computer science scholarship to use his technological skills as an intern at the Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) non-profit organization.

Boulder Food Rescue aims to revitalize the food pantry system to get food that would otherwise be wasted to people who might otherwise go hungry. Local businesses load Boulder Food Rescue bins with soon-to-expire fresh produce. Volunteers hook the bins to their bicycles and deliver the payload to soup kitchens and other organizations able to distribute the food. The system works—if everything is tracked properly to make sure food isn’t wasted due to missed pick-ups or double deliveries. That’s where Zach came in.

 Boulder Food Rescue diverts thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day which otherwise would be disposed of


Boulder Food Rescue diverts thousands of pounds of fresh produce every day which otherwise would be disposed of

Zach had previously worked with a homeless shelter that was chronically under-supplied, and he was familiar with the problems of waste in food distribution systems. He was eager to help Boulder Food Rescue address those problems using his unique skill set.

“I worked with the Food Rescue Robot, which, misleadingly, is not a robot but a dynamic webpage,” Zach said. The webpage was designed with the help of Sean Wiese, the first University of Colorado student to receive a computer science stipend from the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation. Sean graduated in 2013.

Under the mentorship of Caleb Phillips, the Food Rescue Robot’s original designer and an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, Zach quickly learned how to improve the software needed for the food transfer process.

“Zach came into the project with very little experience directly applicable to the task. Nevertheless, he picked up concepts quickly,” Caleb said, also mentioning Zach’s kindness and thoughtfulness as a worker. “I enjoyed working with him.”

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Pick- ups and deliveries are made by bicycle to minimize the impact on the environment

Zach spent much of his internship updating the Food Rescue Robot to allow for a more efficient and useful delivery system. When he started, the Food Rescue Robot could track a donor location, a recipient location and the food items that could be transferred. Zach taught the system to track schedule chains, consisting of multiple stops to ensure that the foods available arrive promptly at the places that need them the most.

“Through this internship, I gleaned more skills while working on a real project with a real organization,” Zach said. “I found it immensely satisfying to work on a real project with real consequences, as opposed to writing the same code every Computer Science major before has written.”

Caleb said the code Zach wrote for the Food Rescue Robot is now an integral part of the tool, and it’s used by 22 cities internationally to track food recovery. The system has rescued 1.13 million pounds of food to date, with the help of 949 volunteers.

“I can confidently say that more food will get to more people who need it because of the computer code I wrote,” Zach said. “There is, as far as I’m concerned, no feeling that compares to applying one’s self—in a skilled capacity—for the greater good.”

Please consider donating to the Casey Feldman Foundation to aid not only students, but also local communities.

Related Links:

“Foundation Establishes Computer Science Student/Non-Profit Partnership; Recipient Helps the Hungry”, Casey Feldman Foundation, Nov. 2012

“Class project helps divert 170,000 pounds of food from the dumpster”,  University of Colorado – Boulder, Oct. 2012

“Sean Wiese Receives First Casey Feldman Award for his work with Boulder Food Rescue“,  Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado – Boulder

 

Ashley (L) & Casey, 2008

Ashley (L) & Casey, 2008

 

* Ashley and Casey were friends and editors on The Observer, the student newspaper at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus. Ashley currently works as a science writer in Roanoke, VA.

 

Foundation Establishes Computer Science Student/Non-Profit Partnership; Recipient Helps the Hungry

Monday, November 19th, 2012

By Dianne L. Anderson

Sean Wiese at the computer demonstrating BFR's new web application

Local non-profits often do not have the funds necessary to meet the technology needs necessary to advance their missions. Recognizing that need, the Casey Feldman Foundation established a program that pays stipends to computer science students to work for non-profits. The computer science student receives valuable experience and the non-profit gets a better website, necessary software applications, social media assistance, e-newsletters or blogs for their organization.

Programs have been established at a number of universities, including Villanova, the University of Colorado and Southern Connecticut State University. Non-profits that have benefitted include Gilda’ Club (support for families of cancer patients), Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals and Boulder Food Rescue (BFR).

Thousands of pounds of good food go into dumpsters each day

Sean Wiese was the first student at the University of Colorado to receive a stipend to assist a non-profit,  Boulder Food Rescue (BFR).   BFR rescues and redistributes perishable food “waste” to charities that serve homeless and at-risk individuals with the goal of helping to solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food waste in the community.  Focusing on nutritious fruits and vegetables that would that would not otherwise be available to their recipients, volunteers pick up food from small and large markets, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and the University.  While doing so, they work to have minimal environmental impact by transporting the food with bicycles directly from donors to recipients. Some 170,000 pounds of produce and baked goods have been diverted from dumpsters in the last year since the organization was established.

A BFR volunteer making a pickup at Whole Foods in Boulder

This non-profit was having difficulty with scheduling between donors, recipients and its more than 70 volunteers that pick up and deliver the food. Sean Wiese, a concurrent BS/MS Computer Science major, designed a software application to meet the needs of BFR. The web application allows organizations that donate or receive food from Boulder Food Rescue to input pickup and delivery information. An intelligent planning algorithm then takes in pickups, deliveries and volunteer schedules to plan optimal pickup schedules for its volunteer force. The goal was to enable BFR to optimize its limited resources and enable it to handle more pickups. Already, the organization has increased its pickups and deliveries by hundreds of pounds per week.

 

Sean, who will be working as a software development engineer for Microsoft upon graduation in May, has already had two corporate internships during college. Asked about his experience with BFR, Sean stated that it was immensely gratifying to give back to the community and use his skills to aid such a worthy charity. In addition, “The hands on experience outside the classroom has helped to prepare me for my upcoming job at Microsoft.”

BFR minimizes its environmental footprint by making deliveries and pickups by bicycle

BFR minimizes its environmental footprint by making deliveries and pickups by bicycle

Related Links:

Boulder Food Rescue

“Class project helps divert 170,000 pounds of food from the dumpster”,  University of Colorado – Boulder

“Sean Wiese Receives First Casey Feldman Award for his work with Boulder Food Rescue“, University of Colorado – Boulder

Gilda’s Club

Francisvale Home for Smaller Animals