GivingTree wins Rep. Troy Nehls’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Texas’s 22nd District

Rep. Troy Nehls has named Gregory Zachariah, Anna Huang, Joshua Yu, and Christine Yuan of Clements High School as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Texas’s 22nd District.

When asked what inspired the creation of GivingTree, the students said, “The onslaught of the pandemic brought not only the shelters and food distribution centers within our community to a screeching halt but also nationally. Supply chain disruptions, nationwide food shortages, and significantly affected disadvantaged populations lacking resources to bare necessities, witnessing such sequences of events occur in such a brief period of time caught our team all by surprise. After hearing news of one of our local food pantries, Second Mile Mission, struggling to meet the drastically increasing demand of struggling community members.  Upon making a visit to volunteer at Second Mile the following weekend, the four of us became inspired by what we saw: families gathering to get food for the week to feed their children, community members working together to make ends meet, volunteers offering a helping hand while distributing food; however, as we witnessed the crowded center turn back hungry families empty-handed due to the sheer lack of resources and donations they had received, we felt compelled to do something, something substantive yielding a tangible, positive impact on local shelters and pantries like Second Mile. Arriving back to each of our homes, we saw how our own pantries contained a multitude of items simply existing on our shelves for no other purpose than to *eventually* get donated.


Realizing how the tendency of many to offput donating goods intensified greatly due to the pandemic, we sought to construct an app that would enable community members to take initiative with their contributions to shelters and food pantries rather than delaying it. Quite quickly we recognized the primary obstacle stopping citizens from donating items from their own pantries was frequently attributed to the hassle of transporting said goods to a local shelter.

With this in mind, we sought a way for ordinary citizens to get more involved in donations. We thought that if different donation centers could send out their donation requests to a centralized platform, it would be easier for people to see what they needed and see if they could help donate something, such as some food cans lying around, or some clothes that people have outworn.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.