BetterGrads

Co-founded a nonprofit online mentoring organization for college-bound high school students with Kevin Adler in May 2009.

Website

bettergrads.org

Details of Work

  • Co-authored the mission, vision, and values statement of the organzation
  • Co-authored the by-laws and business plan
  • Co-wrote applications to numerous funders and startup competitions, and even edited a video emphasizing the geographic distance between my co-founder and me (see below)
  • Co-developed multiple surveys for prospective mentees and mentors, and deployed surveys online: first using hand-coded html, second using Google Forms
  • Developed and manage BetterGrads.org website (WordPress), re-designed twice with modifications to html, css, and javascript in base templates
  • Authored most static content on the website and several blog entries, and edited all imagery
  • Developed social media strategy and oversaw BetterGrads’ social media team, curating 200+ blog posts including special series
  • Recruited mentors from across the country for our pilot program
  • Moderated dozens of national conference calls with mentors, mentees, and social media team members
  • Co-developed mentoring program curriculum to prepare high school students for the college experienceOngoing
  • Co-directing the nonprofit, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area where my co-founder lives, while living in Boston
  • Personally mentoring a high school senior at Granada High School in Livermore, CA
  • Advising for-profit spin-off Alumn.us founded by my co-founder

SupportDem

Co-founded web platform in July 2008 to help progressive voters connect to candidates that match their personal politics and create opportunities for fundraising.

This venture never went beyond the idea stage.

Details of Work

  • Co-developed idea with Kevin Adler (BetterGrads co-founder) based on social capital theory and political campaign experience
  • Designed mockups for front-end and back-end features
  • Started to develop business plan, and while researching competition discovered ActBlue
  • Decided to retire the idea in May 2009 to work on second venture, BetterGrads

Rural Internet Use and the Strengthening of ‘Weak Ties’

This thesis earned a First Class mark.

Full Text

graeff-2008-mphilthesis

Abstract

‘Social capital’ and ‘the digital divide’ live double lives; in popular media they are buzzwords, and in academia they are debated theoretical constructs. Literature on both of these topics has proliferated from social theorists to The World Bank to new academic research to public policy initiatives to reportage and back again. Digital divide researchers wishing to study the intersections of social capital and internet use find themselves faced with an increasingly muddy field of enquiry. A significant part of this muddiness is the promulgation of ill-defined conceptions of social capital which seem to lack any context-sensitivity. To help clear this up and advance the field of inquiry, this dissertation offers: 1) a redefinition of social capital and 2) a new case study. After a critical evaluation of past literature, social capital is redefined as an individual asset related to normative behaviour, social networking across various communication media, and positive and negative products of localized social interactions. Using a qualitative methodology tailored to relevant fieldwork, individual practices and perceptions of the aspects of social capital and internet use were studied in the rural town of Alston in Cumbria, which enjoys an unusually high level of broadband internet access. The results of this case study are presented as evidence of the need to fundamentally understand community-specific social relations through individuals’ networks and norms. The research supports a thesis of the ‘social shaping of technology’, which explains differentiated adoption and use of the available information and communications technology. In the conclusion, community informatics, a promisingly context-sensitive approach to researching and deploying technologies, is recommended for future study. However, community informatics like any other research and practice approach needs to realize the distinct advantages of a bottom-up method of technology deployment should be complemented by a bottom-up approach to studying contextually-specific phenomena like social capital.

Cambridge MPhil Sociology Thesis

I conducted interviews in the rural English town of Alston to understand how a pilot broadband internet program had changed the community’s social landscape.

Details of Work

  • Established contact with key informant at the broadband provider office in Alston, Cybermoor
  • Developed semi-structured interview protocol
  • Traveled to Alston, living in the local youth hostel, and interviewed residents, April 14-21, 2009
  • Transcribed and coded all interviews
  • Wrote and submitted thesis

Related Publications

Proposal Presentation

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/76923381/content?start_page=1&view_mode=slideshow&access_key=key-1pjz4btvfhcv25y6znpi&secret_password=2muj01flyytvp4ehx123(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)0; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();