Clean Coastal Virginia wins Rep. Elaine Luria’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s Second District

Rep. Elaine Luria has named Zahra Rizvi from York High School as the winner of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Virginia’s Second District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Clean Coastal Virginia, the student said, “During the COVID-19 lockdown, I was staying at home most of the time and I started to walk around my home for physical exercise. I noticed the amount of litter in my neighborhood. At that time, I wondered how I can use technology to help motivate people to keep the environment clean. I looked around for such a solution that was convenient and efficient but could not find one. This inspired me to think of a new mission: Clean Coastal Virginia, and a new app – Clean Coastal Virginia that can work with a Smart Litter Grabber. With that in my mind, I founded Clean Coastal Virginia at

My new app, Clean Coastal Virginia, uses a phone’s camera to take a picture of a discarded coffee cup, a plastic bottle, candy wrapper, or any other piece of litter. Next, the app automatically geo-tags the picture, and its machine learning tool recommends tags for the kind of litter. One can also share a post in their social media apps of their choice where they can invite or challenge their friends to help keep their street, neighborhood, school grounds, or city clean. I wanted this feature to keep people motivated. The major use of this app is for the city administrators, who can get data analytics reports that show entire data and suggestions of the locations that would be optimal for recycling, garbage, and trash cans on the streets.

Since ease of use and convenience are the major drivers in the Clean Coastal Virginia app, I was particularly motivated to provide a positive User Experience (UX) and an intuitive User Interface (IU). The UX is a critical piece of the Clean Coastal Virginia app because it provides the users a smooth journey that will be most conducive to the success of the app. The UI is user-friendly, intuitive, easy to understand, responsive, and aesthetically appealing.”

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.