2019 Tech Award Winner Profile: Passport for Good
CEG’s 2019 Tech Awards will be held on Thursday, June 27 from 4:30 – 7:30pm at Rivers Casino in Schenectady. Join 100s in celebrating our region’s brightest minds, innovators, researchers, technologists and organizations making a difference in our community and beyond by advancing technology across multiple industry sectors that affect our lives.
2019 Start-up Star: Passport for Good
Gayle Farman founded Passport for Good in 2016 to address an important yet missing part of the traditional student transcript. One of her daughters was preparing for college and had a wide range of community volunteer, internship and extracurricular activities with no way to demonstrate the experience and impact due to burdensome paper tracking systems or no system at all.
Farman, who is CEO of the Troy-based company, decided to investigate options to fill the gap and help transcripts better reflect student experience. Customer discovery revealed that schools had significant problems to solve with managing and validating community service and work-based learning requirements, and no way to coordinate the decentralized efforts of multiple clubs, activities and events in the nonprofit community.
“While there is significant evidence that participation in activities and service learning has a positive impact on student academic success, there is no data for schools to measure, encourage and promote community engagement,” explained Farman. “With Passport for Good, we developed a prototype with students from RPI, which was tested in five local school districts; secured a statewide contract with the New York State Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) as the exclusive vendor in its category; and raised more than $500,000 in a seed funding round to launch our web and mobile platform in fall 2018.”
Today, Passport for Good offers a first-in-class, subscription-based Software as a Service (SaaS) to address the growing challenge faced by students, schools, and organizations to track time spent by individuals and groups performing community service and other similar activities. Students can build a verified non-academic transcript of their engagement hours, obtain electronic verification of the experience, and export their portfolio for class and graduation requirements, as well as college applications and scholarships.
Passport for Good also centralizes data, automates the community service experience, and aggregates data across individuals and events to allow organizations to demonstrate community impact and to enhance linkages between service learning, skill development, and academic and career exploration.
While Passport for Good was initially developed for schools and students, it is in the process of being expanded for use by families and teachers. The company is also expanding its use to school-affiliated programs such as the New York State Parent Teacher Association (NYSPTA), ADL’s World of Difference and No Place for Hate programs, and Junior Achievement. It will also be used by non-profits supporting and connecting with student and family volunteers, and by corporations that want a simple solution to demonstrate the impact of their social responsibility and volunteer programs.
“We are fortunate to be based in the Capital Region for many reasons,” said Farman. “We pride ourselves on having one of the most philanthropic communities in the country due to our business, technology, academic and nonprofit industry leaders who have grown and reinvested in the Capital Region.”
“As the state capital, our community leads the nation in public policy, economic development initiatives, and civic engagement,” she said. “Due to our social mission, we have found our home here with a group of influential and philanthropic investors. We have also received support from our strong academic partners, including RPI and HVCC, which is our Start-Up NY partner, and leaders from the state’s education trade associations.”
Passport for Good, which currently has six employees, is seeking its next major investment to scale statewide and nationally. The company is also planning research grants to measure extracurricular experience for college, career and civic readiness, as well as how the use of its platform can encourage engagement, wellness and the whole person to promote generations of good citizens.
– Nick Crounse, Albany-based public relations professional and writer