We explore how volunteers from J.P. Morgan’s Force for Good program helped charity RE:ACT scale up their services during the pandemic – and how charities can apply for 2021
Humanitarian charity RE:ACT is used to stressful situations. Formed in response to the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal, the charity regularly sends volunteers to deliver aid and assistance in disaster zones around the world.
In early 2020, having deployed teams to combat the bushfires in Australia, it was also preparing to send a team to Nepal to train local residents on water safety and medical care, when, suddenly, a crisis hit much closer to home: COVID-19.
In March, as the first wave of the pandemic hit the UK, RE:ACT launched its response, Op RE:ACT. It was involved in supporting vital PPE distribution, emergency food support, community testing, welfare checks for people shielding, and temporary mortuary assistance.
The charity also supported local authorities with strategic planning and coordination. Regional representatives were tasked with identifying what was needed in each part of the country, from medicines to food, as the public struggled in lockdown.
“People couldn’t get to the pharmacy to get their medicines, and people were facing food poverty because the food bank was understocked," reported Chris Lyon, Head of Technology and Innovation at RE:ACT.
It was clear that help was needed and demand was high. RE:ACT needed to find a way that would help them catalogue the increasing requests for assistance and prioritise them according to greatest need. These requests would need to be tracked properly and, most importantly, time was of the essence. The system needed to be running as soon as possible.
Fortunately, J.P. Morgan’s volunteers had already helped lay the groundwork over the four years prior.
The bank’s Force for Good program – which pairs its technology employees with charities who need its skills – had helped RE:ACT to develop its existing technology in order to track and communicate data between its headquarters and volunteers in the field, who often experience limited connectivity depending on where they are in the world.
The J.P. Morgan team built a digital survey tool which allowed volunteers to quickly assess and catalogue needs using an iPad. They also established a secure method of communicating this data, which could be stored offline and sent to headquarters automatically once the device was connected to the Internet.
“We used to do it all manually, with paper or spreadsheets," added Lyon. "Then we got a digital solution with an iPad and it sped up the process of collecting information in the field and processing volunteers massively."
When it came to the pandemic response, RE:ACT was able to adapt this technology within 48 hours, as a result of the guidance the charity received from the Force for Good program.
This is a key part of Force for Good’s ethos. J.P. Morgan’s volunteers aim to find technological solutions for charities that can be maintained long after the program has ended, taking into account the unique needs of each organisation, its resources, its technical maturity, and its budget.
“RE:ACT can build upon the tool to make it whatever they find themselves needing in the future," said Samuel Singh, J.P. Morgan software engineer, and a member of the Force for Good team who worked with RE:ACT. "That’s the best-case scenario, that what you have built isn’t just something that will help the organisation in that one moment. Rather, it’s a tool they can evolve and grow alongside the organisation to better help people in need."
After 449 days, Op RE:ACT finally ended in June 2021, having supported more than three million meals, 106,000 vaccinations, and facilitating more than 61,000 COVID-19 tests across the UK. The operation was a success, one in which the expertise from Force for Good proved instrumental.
The Force for Good program 2021 is now open for applications from charities looking to participate this coming autumn. Charities looking to increase their efficiency, effectiveness and reach, and to accelerate their missions can apply before 27 August 2021 for the opportunity to be matched with a team of technologists from J.P. Morgan.
Charities selected to participate in the 2021 program will work with a team of up to ten highly-skilled technologists, who will spend approximately four hours per week on their projects, over a four-to-eight-month period.
The aim of the program, which works alongside J.P. Morgan’s wider Tech for Social Good initiatives, is to develop effortless, sustainable, and scalable tech solutions that will help charities solve their biggest problems, now and in the future.
Charities interested in applying can download a list of application questions to circulate with their colleagues in preparation. Questions can also be emailed to the Force for Good team at email@example.com.
Application deadline closes on: Friday 27 August 2021
Click above to apply for the J.P. Morgan 2021 Force for Good program