I was born in July of 2001, which makes me just a few months shy of having been able to vote in the 2018 midterms. Two of my best friends, however, were both eighteen and ready to exercise their civic duty. I heard the two of them talk about doing their research together and about how hard it was to choose between down-ballot candidates. Aviva Rosman had the same problem, which inspired her to create the organization, BallotReady.
BallotReady offers a comprehensive website that helps people make an informed decision about all candidates on the ballot, not just those at the top. Most of us don’t even think about how many elected officials there were for this past November’s midterm election. BallotReady covered 95,000 candidates! BallotReady equipped voters with the knowledge they needed to support candidates whose values align with their own and who will fight for a future they stand by.
Along with the rest of my Project Teen Seed613 cohort, I had the honor of meeting Aviva and hearing her present about the process of going from a high schooler who was passionate about politics, to an entrepreneur who founded an organization and a website that reaches over a million users. BallotReady started as a passion project but soon grew into a profitable business. Key to this progression, Aviva told us, were the processes of problem validation and user discovery interview protocol.
The first, problem validation, requires an entrepreneur to ensure that the problem they are solving is a significant enough issue for a large enough group of people to believe in and invest in. For example, being able to listen to music while walking in the rain would be cool, but it’s not a big enough problem to warrant the creation of a Bluetooth umbrella.
The second part of the process, user discovery interview protocol, is to develop an outline for how to collect data to inform your solution. Aviva stressed that it is imperative to consult with and get feedback from your intended user group when designing your product. An important step is conducting interviews, but Aviva stressed to us that you can’t just explain your product and ask if people think it’s a good idea because most people will just provide positive feedback. To get the most informative and helpful feedback, Aviva explained you have to ask open ended questions that take in all facets of the subject matter.
Aviva made a real impression on me. She is a strong role model for me and my peers who are participating in Project Teen-Seed613 this year. Aviva is a Jewish female entrepreneur who uses her passion and skills to make social impact and bring about positive change in the world. I hope to one day be as successful as she is and as inspiring to the next generation of female entrepreneurs as she was to me.
Being born in 2001 means that I’m able to vote in the next election. While I can’t say now who I will be voting for, I can say for sure that I will be ‘BallotReady.’
JCC Chicago’s Project Teen-Seed613 is an entrepreneurial fellowship for teen girls looking to make an impact on their community by developing innovative ventures. Through the ongoing generous support of the Hadassah Foundation, Project Teen-Seed 613 has been awarded a grant from the Foundation for a third year. The Hadassah Foundation has provided generous support for the creation and implementation of Project Teen-Seed 613. Throughout the six-month fellowship, teens participate in monthly workshops and regular meetings with coaches, mentors and peers that equip teens with entrepreneurial tools and knowledge to develop a socially responsible venture that will impact the community.
This unique and exclusive curriculum incorporates Jewish values and lessons allowing teens to learn about the Jewish role in communal support. Values such as Tikkun Olam and helping ones’ neighbor are embodied by the participants through their ideas and ventures.
This program was launched in November and will run through May, 2019. The participants are ready to begin with a new group of mentors and teen participants. Twelve teens representing high schools from all over the across the Metropolitan Chicago area comprise this year’s cohort.
BallotReady began in 2015 during the Chicago mayoral runoff and provided paper voter guides for Chicago residents to make an informed decision when voting for the next Mayor. After the mayoral election BallotReady continued to grow in its popularity. Three years later the organization has grown nationwide and they provide ballot guides all over the country. BallotReady aggregates content from candidates’ websites, social media, press, endorsers and board of elections for comprehensive, nonpartisan information about the candidates and referendums on your ballot. We link everything back to its original source, so voters can verify any piece of information, and we make every effort to confirm details with the candidates themselves, giving them the opportunity to share even more information. Learn more at www.BallotReady.org
Special thank you to writer, Sarah Bloom, Project Teen Seed613 Fellow and Senior at Evanston Township High School
JCC Chicago Teen-Seed613
A social innovation and entrepreneurship fellowship for teen girls. The Hadassah Foundation has provided generous support for the creation and implementation of Project Teen-Seed613.