We’re excited to be a finalist on the InTheCapital “50 on Fire” list for 2014 in the Education category! For this year’s list, InTheCapital received over 1,500 top-notch nominations for rising DC-based businesses who are “innovators, disruptors and trailblazers” and making an impact on how business is done in Washington, D.C.

Congratulations to members of our TechChange alumni community from our mHealth: Mobiles for Public Health online course, Dr. Layla McCay and Joel Selanikio of Magpi! Also, congrats to our friends at MapBox and General Assembly for making the list as well.

We’re honored to be in great company of several of our friends and partners on this list and are proud to part of the DC tech and business community.

Check out the full list to be narrowed down to 50 on December 4 from InTheCapital here.

UPDATE: We didn’t win, but we did get some amazing photos from the event. Photo credit: InTheCapital/GRVTY


After a study-abroad semester in Spain and a summer at TechChange in Washington D.C., Emily Fruchterman is heading back to William & Mary to finish the final year of her undergraduate career. Before heading to Williamsburg to finish her Biology degree, she looks back on her summer internship at TechChange as an educational technologist.

1. How did you hear about TechChange?

At the start of 2014, summer internships were the last thing on my mind. I was off to spend the semester in Seville, Spain, and any thought relating to life-after-study-abroad was a painful reminder that my time in paradise wouldn’t last forever.

When my final exams forced me to face reality, I wasn’t quite sure where to start my search (the ocean between me and potential employers seemed pretty daunting). A friend referred me to internships.com, where I found out about TechChange.

2. Why did you choose TechChange to spend the summer between your junior and senior years?

TechChange piqued my interest with its goal of using the power of technology to advance social change. The broad range of courses that demonstrate the utility of technology to a very international audience showed me that this was more than a cursory commitment. Contributing to an organization with such goals seemed like a worthwhile way to spend the summer.

On a personal level, TechChange seemed like a great complement to many of my previous experiences at nonprofits and NGOs doing research while giving me new exposure to a startup culture. TechChange’s upcoming projects also aligned well with my interest in public health, plus the networking opportunities afforded by spending a summer in DC seemed too good to pass up.

3. What are your interests?

While I’m generally interested in the field of development, my passions really lie with public health. I’d really like to work for organizations (like TechChange) that have projects relating to the various aspects of health and healthcare – although my dream is to work for an organization that coordinates healthcare responses and works to improve health outcomes on an international basis. I’m also an avid coffee drinker, science fiction fan, and aspiring flamenco dancer (my time in Spain might have influenced this last one).

Emily with TechGirls

Emily goes over how to create an online course with the TechGirls on TechGirls Job Shadow Day 

4. How did you use your TechChange internship to explore your interests?

Fortunately for me, TechChange had several different public health related courses this summer. I was able to engage with a course on Malaria, for use in Nigeria and Uganda, as well as take on a large part of a facilitated course on HIV for clinical and non-clinical care providers. Both of these have been extremely valuable experiences, as I’ve not only learned a great deal about both illnesses, but also looked at how to structure health-related interventions and training programs.

5. What did you do at TechChange this summer? What was your role at TechChange?

The instructional design team was finishing up a self-paced course on Malaria when I arrived in June. I was not only able to help with edits and testing, but built a few interactive elements. I got more experience building out lessons, writing storyboards, and coming up with engaging lessons while working on other instructional design projects.

I got my first taste of the facilitated platform as a teaching assistant (TA) for a course on Social Media for Social Change, during which I familiarized myself with WordPress and the structure/pacing of a four-week course. This came in super handy, as a couple weeks later I started to manage content development and build out the four modules for the course on HIV treatment. I also helped write several blog posts relating to projects, participated in meetings with clients, and taught the TechGirls from Tunisia and the Palestinian Territories how to create online courses.

6. What did you learn during your time at TechChange?

The first big thing I learned was how to use Articulate Storyline. This eLearning program might look like a fancier version of PowerPoint, but it has it’s tricks and idiosyncrasies. It was very cool to learn how to create interactions, design variables, and troubleshoot glitches to develop quality modules. This was super useful, as it helped me think about learning in a much more user-centered way.

I also learned to be much more comfortable in front of the camera – while I still had my fair share of outtakes, it became a lot easier to speak to a blinking red light instead of an audience. I learned how to manage time during interviews, ask the right kinds of questions, and (most importantly) what to do with my face when I wasn’t the one talking.

My tech skills also improved – my co workers tried to show me some coding basics (parts of which I picked up on better than others), I increased my audio editing abilities, became super familiar with WordPress, created several graphics, and set-up and took down AV equipment.

I also improved my communication skills by working closely with various members of the team on different projects and writing emails/participating in phone calls with clients.


Emily in the recording studio at TechChange before recording a live session for a course

7. Did your TechChange experience end up going as you expected?

In some ways – based on my impressions of TechChange from their website and my interview, I’d expected to find a group of young and tech savvy individuals interested in promoting social change.

I hadn’t expected how much support they’d give me for pursuing my own ideas from the get-go. I think it was my second or third day here that I suggested an interaction be added to a part of a self-paced course to a member of the instructional design team. The response I received – “great, want to build it?” – really surprised me. I’d barely started learning the program, was still figuring out where I fit in, and yet was already being offered the chance to work on the product. This “great, want to build it?” philosophy was present throughout my internship here – I had a lot of flexibility and opportunity to build off of assigned tasks.

8. Would you come back to work at TechChange one day? Why?

Yes, and without a second thought. TechChange has to be one of the best work environments I’ve ever encountered; it’s fun and collaborative, the work is engaging, and the company is small enough that everyone can play a variety of roles. You might be hired as an educational technologist, but you’ll have the chance to do a little bit of graphics editing, write blog posts, sit in on business development meetings, teach a course, and have your voice featured in animations.

More importantly, this work has real value. The courses developed by TechChange are used by different organizations around the world to train staff members and health providers, as resources to newly-formed NGOs, and to put the spotlight on the role technology can play in the developing world. TechChange collaborates with organizations that work for real, sustainable change, and TechChange alumni go on to do incredible work. Being a part of this team has been a wonderful experience.

9. What advice would you give to future TechChange interns?

Take initiative! This is an awesome opportunity to grow your skill set – make use of that. If something needs to be done, volunteer to do it. Even if it’s not something you’ve done before, the team will support you and make sure you learn how to do it well. The TechChange team is also super supportive – if there’s something you want to learn about (even if it’s not directly related to your job), they’re more than happy to help.

After a summer at TechChange, it’s time for Sean Bae to start his first year at the University of Maryland-College Park this fall where he is considering a major in Electrical Engineering. Before heading to College Park, he reflects on his time at TechChange as a Software Engineer – Analytics Intern where he worked on D3 data visualization projects to make online learning interactive.

1. How did you hear about TechChange?

During the last fall, my dear friend Michael Holachek (a.k.a. “Code Ninja”), currently a rising sophomore at MIT, kindly shared his TechChange internship experience with me. While I was browsing through the TechChange website, I came across the job description of “Software Engineer – Analytics”, which is when I became first interested in working for TechChange.

2. Why did you choose TechChange to spend your summer before beginning college?

After taking an online Machine Learning course from Caltech, I became really interested in not only how to use computational algorithms to find correlations in data, but also how to interactively visualize them in aesthetically pleasing ways that can provide hidden insights for the front-end users.

TechChange’s job opening for the “Software Engineer – Analytics” quickly grabbed my attention because of the idea of being able to work in the cutting-edge web development environment, while learning principles of real-life software engineering practice. The fact that I will be contributing to the company that aims to promote social change, and educate the global community was also a big plus.

3. What are your interests?

I love physics and mathematics. In college, I plan on studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the two subjects that I believe will let me apply my passion in physics and math into solving real-life problems.

During my free time, I play piano, do Cross Country running and play Ultimate Frisbee. Also, I have a longstanding interest in modern European history, and I enjoy having discussions and debates with my friends on various thought-provoking topics such as political philosophy, epistemology, ethical dilemmas, and religion.

4. How did you use your TechChange internship to explore your interests?

TechChange offered me a lot of flexibility in terms of what projects I worked on. While my main projects were developing front-end interactive D3.js (Data-Driven-Documents) visualizations, I also had opportunities to learn about SaltStack server provisioning automation, and work on small back-end Ubuntu server projects.

Surprisingly, computer science wasn’t the only relevant subject in my work! I found my physics knowledge useful when I was working with D3 Force Directed Graphs, which used electric charge model and pseudo-gravity to compute the location of vertices of the graph until they reached the “electrostatic equilibrium”. My knowledge in discrete math and linear algebra also became invaluable when I was developing a social-learning matching algorithm to solve a combinatorial optimization problem that turned out to be similar to the Minimum weight spanning tree problem.

Sean Bae with the TechChange staff

The TechChange team battle each other in a heated game of “Settlers of Catan.”

Apart from work, we had occasional TechChange Board Game days, World Cup cheering days, soccer/Frisbee team-bonding sessions and nearby park strolls that made my time at TechChange much more enjoyable and social.

 5. What did you do at TechChange this summer? What was your role at TechChange?

 During my time at TechChange, I developed front-end interactive D3.js visualizations for the TechChange online course platform. Some of the major projects include the TechChange social matching algorithm, social matching recommendation visualization, and course-wide point leaderboard system. While my work was mostly focused around the front-end JavaScript design, TechChange’s cohesive tech team structure let me peek into and learn insights from other tech team members’ back-end projects as well.

 6. What did you learn during your time at TechChange?

Technical skills weren’t the only valuable assets that I learned during my time at TechChange, but as an overview, I learned:

  • How to create interactive data visualizations with D3.js
  •  Efficient Git distributed version control (DVCS) team workflow for constant deployment
  • Advanced JavaScript debugging with the Google Chrome browser DevTools
  • How to automate virtual development environment creation using Vagrant
  • WordPress web plugin development with PHP and MySQL
  • Industry-standard JavaScript Design patterns
  • Regex (Regular Expression)
  • Django server structure
  • Full stack web app development combining Node.js, Express framework, MongoDB and Jade HTML Pre-processor
  • How to maintain a healthy diet (which was unexpected!)

Sean Bae coding D3 data visualization

Sean codes D3 data visualization for encouraging interaction and engagement on the TechChange learning platform

 7. Did your TechChange experience end up going as you expected?

I was expecting my internship experience to be mostly associated with computer programming. However, people at TechChange seem to follow the “work hard, play hard” philosophy. After working hard, we had times to socialize, play soccer and games together, which made my experience much more interesting. I was also surprised by how friendly and opened people were and how flexible the working environment was at TechChange.

 8. Would you come back to work at TechChange one day? Why?

I would love to! TechChange’s tight-knit community and energetic teams have magical power that draws people. Supportive and caring, yet productive, efficient, and techie team members make TechChange a fantastic environment to work on projects that create real impact in the real world.

9. What advice would you give to future TechChange interns?

  • Search for opportunities: TechChange has many different teams that you can pursue many different projects in international relations, course facilitation, media/video productions, UI/UX design and computer programming. If you find someone else working on a project that you want to take challenge on, then just simply ask.
  • Explore nearby restaurants: located right across the U Street metro station, TechChange HQ is located in the midst of many spectacular restaurants; there are many places to explore around in U street for lunch, from an authentic Ethiopian restaurant to gourmet falafel place and famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. Take the full advantage of the plethora of exotic choices and try exploring many ethnic food groups!

TechChange Founder and CEO, Nick Martin, has been selected as a 2014 Ariane de Rothschild Fellow! The AdR Fellowship program connects social entrepreneurs with a well-connected network across sectors aimed at conflict resolution through cross-cultural discourse.

Nick is one of 28 competitively selected, visionary fellows who have demonstrate early achievements of a social good organization with a commitment to facilitating cross-cultural dialogue.

As part of the fellowship, Nick will be participating in an intensive series of Rothschild Fellow trainings at the end of August at the University of Cambridge, UK. There, the AdR program will focus on business training, unconventional social science approaches, and workshops to extend the impact of these selected social leaders.

To learn more about the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship, please click here.

Please join us in congratulating Nick!

Did you know that prior to founding an e-learning social enterprise, TechChange President Nick Martin did his undergraduate degree in Modern Poetry?

Nick recently returned to his alma mater, Swarthmore College, where he participated in a panel discussion on “What I Learned From Trying to Change the World” during the school’s alumni weekend. To an audience of approximately 150 people, Nick spoke with three fellow alumni representing the Peace Corps, Princeton University, and Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia on the lessons they learned in their respective social change industries.

United with the common threads of a liberal arts education at Swarthmore and careers driven by the desire to change the world, here are the pearls of wisdom they shared based on their social change careers so far:

Lesson 1:

“You learn the most and you learn the quickest when you get yourself out there.” -F.F. Quigley, Country Director, Thailand, Peace Corps

We often learn and gain the most from doing what we are afraid of. The impact of this lesson could not be truer and is something we always need to be urging ourselves to do.

Lesson 2:

“Be careful not to be too righteous” -Lourdes Rosado, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Be able to disagree with others while maintaining respect for them and their opinions. Sometimes the only way to achieve progress is by working with, and not against, those who challenge us.

Lesson 3:

“We need to take time to ask better questions.” -Carolyn Rouse, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University

While Carolyn Rouse worked to establish a high school in the outskirts of Accra, Ghana, she learned that sometimes stability matters more than change. When looking to make the world a better place, we need to challenge assumptions, as not everything aligns clearly to a cut-and-dry cost-benefit analysis. With anything life, do not be afraid to ask questions and challenge the status quo.

Lesson 4:

“Community matters.” -Nick Martin, President & CEO, TechChange

We are shaped by the people we surround ourselves with. Whether hiring people to join your start-up or choosing your friends, the values and attitudes of those we associate ourselves with have a strong impact on the people we become.

To check out the entire talk, click here and fast forward to 32:30 to catch Nick’s segment.

Do you have a liberal arts education that you have applied to try to change the world? What lessons have you learned along the way? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @TechChange.

With a domain that ends with [dot] org, TechChange is sometimes mistaken for a non-profit organization. However, we are actually a for-profit social enterprise business that is focused on market-viable solutions that bring both profit and positive social impact. As we continue on our journey from a start-up to a small business, we’re proud to be a registered B Corporation, a category of social enterprises that also focus on double bottom line values.

Being this type of small, yet growing, online learning business based in Washington, DC brings its own unique set of challenges, recently featured in this Forbes article, “When And How To Scale: DC Startup At Crossroads.” Launched in 2010, TechChange remains a bootstrapped social enterprise. Unlike other high-growth startups in the edtech space that have received an injection of venture capital funding, scaling for us is less straightforward than more employees, bigger offices, and lunchtime perks.

“To scale does not always mean bigger. A thought that seems to get lost in the relentless drive to scale businesses across continents.”

For a social enterprise, scaling offers different incentives than a traditional for-profit business that focuses primarily on maximizing profit. In our case, part of the challenge in scaling is codifying our business priorities and establishing social impact as a core value of our business.

Nick Martin at Johns Hopkins SAIS

TechChange CEO, Nick Martin, presenting at a meeting on social entrepreneurship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Affairs (SAIS) in Washington, DC.

Check out the full article on this link here.

What do you think? What is the best way for TechChange to scale our impact while growing as a business? Who are the best investors that are looking for organizations that promise both financial and social impact returns?

We’re excited to announce that TechChange president Nick Martin was selected as the runner-up for the 2014 Andrew E. Rice Award for Leadership and Innovation by a Young Professional in International Development.

The winner of first place for the Rice Award for 2014 was Diana Jue of Essmart, a U.S. Corporation and India Private Limited company that “brings essential, life-improving products to all people, no matter who they are or where they’re from”. Diana’s company is doing great work to create better distribution and supply channels of existing consumer goods to hard-to-reach places in the developing world.

Nick Martin 2014 SID Rice Award Honorable Mention Stage

Nick received a certificate of distinction at the 2014 SID-Washington Annual Conference, “Delivering Results in a Changing World,” on May 20th, in Washington, DC. Thanks to the team at SID-Washington for organizing the award and event.

Nick Martin SID award

Please join us in congratulating Nick!

Read more about the SID Rice Award here and consider applying next year.

Earlier this week, Georgetown University announced the launch of its brand new Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation.

This 10-million dollar center funded by Georgetown alumni, Alberto and Olga María Beeck, aims to inspire and prepare students, faculty, and global leaders with the necessary skills to generate and innovate solution-based world change. The Beeck Center actively promotes a policy-relevant, cross-disciplinary approach to research, ideas, and action. The Center’s approach hopes to challenge common assumptions and lead to ideas and actions that are creative, adaptive, and morally grounded. Planned initiatives include: workshops, speaker event series, social innovation fund, fellows program, social impact lab, and research and policy initiatives.

At the center’s opening event on February 11, the Beeck Center welcomed leading experts in the Social Innovation space such as Pam Omidyar (Co-Founder, Omidyar Network and Founder, HopeLab), Jean Case (Co-Founder and CEO, Case Foundation), and other leading experts on design and storytelling for advocacy. The reception’s closing remarks were by the Center’s Executive Director, Sonal Shah, whose brings leadership from her wealth of experiences at the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, Google.org, Goldman Sachs, the Center for Global Development, the U.S. Department of Treasury, and other organizations.

We had the chance to talk to some of the students already involved with the Beeck Center from across Georgetown University who shared their work in social innovation across the world, from the GU Impacts Fellowship program to the SIPS Fund.

A Georgetown student shares her stories from her GU Impacts program field experience in South Africa.

Georgetown sophomore, Naman Trivedi, discusses projects that have been funded through the student-run Social Innovation Public Service (SIPS) Fund; the Fund has given out grants ranging from $300 to $13,000 for projects here in DC and as far away as Nepal.


If you missed the Beeck Center’s launch event, you can check out the recorded webcast here.

Social innovation can come from anywhere, whether it is from individuals dedicated to public service, social entrepreneurs, or social intrapreneurs working at companies, multilateral organizations, non-profits, or government agencies. We can’t wait the see the impact on the world coming from institutions such as the Beeck Center and are very excited for this welcome addition to the social innovation community.

According to Mark Hanis, Director of the Beeck Center,

“We’re delighted to be working with TechChange, who is a prime example of the type of B Corps social enterprises that we want to foster at the Beeck Center. Like TechChange, Georgetown has always leveraged technology for social change, and Georgetown students are eager to pursue careers that involve a double bottom line business model like TechChange’s. Part of Beeck’s unconventional approach will be grounded in social intrapreneurship as an important component of the social change ecosystem because we often work with larger entities like government, NGOs, and multinational corporations. Ultimately, intrapreneurship is about teaching people how to be more effective in inspiring positive change.”

To help welcome members of Beeck Center community, we’re offering a $100 discount to Beeck affiliated organizations and individuals to join our upcoming Social Intrapreneurship course, which begins in on February 24! Use coupon code: DriveImpact before February 21 to get $100 off the course!

At TechChange, we are always excited to support the work of young social entrepreneurs across the world from Pakistan, Tunisia, to Kosovo. TechChange is proud to welcome three participants representing the winning teams of the latest round of Social Innovation Camp Kosovo to participate in our Social Intrapreneurship online course we’re offering in partnership with Ashoka Changemakers this February 24 – March 21, 2014.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

UNICEF Innovations Lab Kosovo has localized the UK’s Social Innovation Camp experience for Kosovo for the third time this last December 6-8, 2013. During that 48-hour event held in Prishtina, aspiring young social entrepreneurs with first-hand knowledge of Kosovo’s social challenges connected with leading local and international experts in marketing and software development including Dr. Dan McQuillan (former Global Web Manager for Amnesty International and winner of Global Ideas Bank Social Innovations Award), Fisnik Ismajli (winner of Cannes Gold Lion and Silver Clio), and Chris Fabian, (UNICEF Innovation co-lead and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013). Together, the young Kosovo participants age 18 – 29 worked in self-organized teams to create prototypes for viable market products that promote positive social change in their local Kosovo communities.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


The winning teams of the 3rd edition of Social Innovation Camp Kosovo were:
1st prize: Lokalizo
Lokalizo is an online platform that promotes civic engagement and activism in Prishtina with digital mapping. Through its partnership with UNICEF-GIS, Lokalizo will provide a smartphone application that is used by young people of Prishtina to generate automated reports that map out key and urgent issues. The members of Team Lokalizo expressed,  “We are very happy about receiving the opportunity to participate in TechChange and Ashoka Changemakers’ Social Intrapreneurship course. We believe that it will be an invaluable experience for us.”

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


2nd prize: Shoku me bisht (translates to “friend with tail” in Albanian)
The number of stray animals has reached thousands in Kosovo – posing health and safety concerns not just for the animals themselves, but for children and the elderly who are too frequently the victims of attacks by stray animals. This team aims to manage the stray animal population with programs such as animal adoption services, veterinary services, and forming a pet-owners community.

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


3rd prize: Alfa 
The Alfa team will develop an interactive mobile phone app for young children to learn the Albanian alphabet to address illiteracy. The team expects the app will be widely successful among the Albanian diaspora who are always eager to teach young children the Albanian language. We can’t wait to discuss this app when we cover mEducation in our upcoming Mobiles for International Development course!

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab

Photo credit: UNICEF Innovations Lab


Along with receiving TechChange training, these competition winners will receive support to launch their SI Camp Kosovo project in the form of seed funding, pro bono marketing exposure on Kosovo’s most popular online portals, and also access to mentors, office space and equipment at the Innovations Lab.

Bravo to the social entrepreneurs in Kosovo and beyond that are creating innovative solutions to improve their communities! We’re excited to welcome Kosovo youth to our courses!

To get an idea of what Social Innovation Camp Kosovo is all about, check out this video recap of the session in 2012 here:

Muhammad Yunus 2013 mHealth Summit

Last week, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, stopped by our booth for a quick interview on mHealth at the 2013 mHealth Summit. As the founder of the Grameen Movement, he shared his thoughts with us on the relationship between mHealth and “social business”, private enterprise focused on solving human problems.

Check out why Muhummad Yunus sees mobile phones as the “Aladdin’s Lamp for health care” here.