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Double Duty

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By Kristen Hardy '17

Published Mar 16, 2016 8:00 AM


Yoomi Chin's startup helps homeless youth, as well as professors and students.


Yoomi Chin, photo by Joanie Harmon.

A UCLA doctoral student’s startup isn’t about creating personal wealth. It’s about helping homeless youth.

Yoomi Chin and a friend created Arkaive, a geolocation-based app that assists instructors in recording class attendance. But the app also provides support for tutoring and mentoring underserved children.

It works like this: Professors pay $9.99 a month to use Arkaive for an unlimited number of students and classes. At the end of each month, Chin and her business partner Jaewoo Kim look at the average attendance rate of each participating class and donate a large part of the subscription fee to School on Wheels. This L.A. skid row-based nonprofit has been providing tutoring and mentoring to homeless youth since 1993.

If the attendance rate is 80 percent, for example, Chin and Kim donate 80 percent of the net subscription cost to the nonprofit. Knowing that their attendance is tied to the donations can motivate some students to make it to class more regularly, says Chin, who is a pursuing a Ph.D. in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

“We want college students to be aware that just by going to their classes regularly, they’re helping underserved homeless children,” she says. “We’re also thinking about inviting our student users to meet with the homeless children for a daylong workshop or a field trip so that they can actually see who their attendance and participation benefits.”

So far, the year-old startup has about 20 clients nationwide. Chin and Kim plan to launch another product to serve as a platform where high school and college students can store and archive all their academic data and access résumé-building and counseling tools.

The partners hope to get more professors and students to use the app, which also includes features such as reminders to students to drop classes before the deadline to withdraw without a grade.

“Taking attendance is really tedious, but is the first step in getting students to come to class,” says Chin. With course podcasts and other technologies now available, she says, “students don’t feel really encouraged or motivated to go to class. It’s only through attendance that they can be part of the shared classroom dialogue.”

This story is based on an article in the UCLA Newsroom. To view the original full-length article visit http://ucla.in/1JLrovG.

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