VolunTier wins Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in New Jersey’s 11th District

Rep. Mikie Sherrill has named Khush Parikh of Montville Township High School, Hersh Parikh of Montville Township High School, and Neel Kansara of John F. Kennedy Middle School, Cupertino, CA as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in New Jersey’s 11th District.

When asked what inspired the creation of VolunTier, the students said, “During the pandemic, our team wanted to do something to make a change in my community. However, with the virtual environment and separation caused by COVID, it became increasingly hard to find where help was needed. Additionally, the work that is needed, especially in high-level fields, is not accessible for high school students such as ourselves. Essentially, the opportunity gap between students and adults was reflected in the lack of accessible volunteering positions. We decided that this needed to change. Our team realized that we needed to create a niche social network that connected students directly to organizations. The app is made of the students, by the students, and for the students: with younger people as our highest priority. But what would make us unique? Our app is designed specifically for high school students at a local level. By appealing to local communities and school districts, we will be able to create a network of small businesses/organizations and students. This network will be able to solve fundamental societal problems and create meaningful change. For example, a student willing to offer their culinary skills can get connected to a local food pantry that needs help producing meals. A student who is taking computer science at school could get matched with their local animal shelter who needs help building a website. At VolunTier, we believe that local-level change is needed to make a big impact in the long-term.”

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.