Tech for good during COVID-19: Snorkels, thank you notes, and Headspace

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Everyone is living a different pandemic right now. Your relationship with shelter-in-place mandates and social distancing can look wildly different depending on your profession, age, health and, often, privilege. It’s why a week of monotony for some of us might mean a week of madness for others. The best we can do, as exhaustion and Zoom fatigue sets in, is try to be patient, kind and thoughtful.

That’s why this week we are showcasing a number of different tech initiatives trying to tackle the stresses of specific groups, from students to nurses. Let’s get into it.

Help for interns. Major League Hacking, an edtech company that focuses on engineers, is partnering with Github to launch a summer program that is an alternative to internships. Students will spend 12 weeks working on open source projects, and get feedback from professional engineers. The students will be paid $1,000 per month.

Healthcare worker family support. Juni Learning, an online tutoring startup, launched a new initiative to support struggling families of healthcare workers. The platform is giving away $150,000 in credits for its Juni Team product. The Juni Team connects students to small groups with a live instructor to work on STEM projects. “We are hopeful that the Team Sessions will allow Juni to be able to support a greater number of students who may not necessarily need 1:1 instruction, but rather, just crave being back in a structured learning environment with new or existing friends,” the CEO Vivian Shen said in a Medium post.

Health-friendly snorkels. Doctors at hospitals all around the country teamed up to work with Google project engineers and academics from Columbia, MIT, Harvard and more to make snorkel masks into protective PPE gear for doctors. The masks are not meant to replace FDA-approved N95s, but instead can take the place of disposable N95s. Researchers took snorkels, printed breathing filters using 3-D technology and are giving the washable and reusable product to healthcare workers.

A free social media manager. Unemployment in 2020 is rivaling the Great Depression, leaving over 30 million Americans without work. That’s why SalesLoop is giving its platform, which manages social media platforms on LinkedIn, Twitter, and e-mail, for free to job seekers for three months. “The aim here is to help people who want to grow their network and be proactive about reaching out to potential hiring managers, to do so for free. Normally, our biggest customer base are recruiters – so this is sort of the reverse effect that we’re seeing now,” said John Fennessy, a director at the company.

On-demand volunteers. Mon Ami is collaborating with the city of San Francisco and Los Angeles to connect thousands of available volunteers free to do critical errands with people in need, from seniors living alone to at-risk adults and children. The volunteer management platform is backed by Cowboy Ventures, and traditionally connected college students with the elderly. During COVID-19, Mon Ami has set up volunteers one-on-one with people in need, and serves as a central hub to help cities, NGOs target more seamlessly.

Firefly tries to help. Ridesharing advertising company Firefly is providing an in-car plastic protective sheet-film to its drivers at no cost to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure. The initiative is starting in San Francisco and is aimed to help independent rideshare drivers that drive for a ride-hailing company like Uber or Lyft.

Sound on. Shure, a Chicago-based headphone startup, has donated $79,000 worth of earphones to Chicago Public Schools to support students and teachers with online learning.

Thank you notes for healthcare workers. Depending on where you live, when 7 p.m. rolls around your street might be filled with cheers in solitude with your local healthcare workers. But, for those workers on shift, the cheers might be muffled from the sheer stress happening within hospitals. 6FTCloser lets anybody send a quick, personalized video at no cost to frontline workers, for them to watch on their time. The platform was founded mid-April and over 1,000 frontline workers in 40 states across America and more than nine countries have received personalized videos thanks to this service.

Headspace for a year. Unemployed Americans are eligible for a year of Headspace, a digital meditation service. The mobile app startup also offered its meditation content to any and all frontline workers. “While meditation and mindfulness can’t change our circumstances in life, it can help us change our perspective on those circumstances. And, now more than ever, that’s an incredibly powerful skill to learn,” said Rich Pierson, the CEO of Headspace, in a release.

Honorable mention. Where to shop that isn’t Amazon, Target or Walmart? A few of us on the TechCrunch team listed out a couple options to support local businesses versus big corporations. We hope you take our suggestions into consideration!