When Randy Silang signed up to do his City Year in New York back in 2004, he brought a different kind of diversity to the corps. “I was 23, right at the edge of the 24 age cutoff,” he said. “I was working alongside corps members who were mostly a lot younger than me.”
Where as many corps members find their way to City Year after high school, during college, or after graduating from college as a service ‘gap year,’ Randy had completed college and was a few years deep into the working world when he decided it was time to do something different. He found City Year, applied and was accepted, and was placed on the PS 133 team in East Harlem.
“My corps year was awesome,” Randy said. “I loved it. I’ve always loved kids. I knew [during my year off] I wanted to contribute to the community via kids and be exposed to the educational field. I had a blast.”
He enjoyed his City Year so much in fact that he took his life on a new path after his graduation from the program. “I completely left the private sector and worked for the Obama campaign in Florida,” Randy said. After, he enrolled in the Public Policy graduate program at the University of Southern California, where he expects to get his master’s with a concentration in education policy this summer.
It was a ripple from his time in Florida though that got Randy involved in a start-up that is now gaining the media’s attention. “I found out my friend on the Obama campaign had a sister who was part of the first ever City Year corps in Boston,” he said. “We were just talking about how we could use the same spirit of civic engagement [found in City Year] to transform transportation in New York.”
Eventually, Randy and his friends started Roadify.com, an early-stage mobile company trying to leverage the power of concerned citizens to be a part of the solution around commuting problems involving subways, busses, and parking. “Roadify is based on the idea that if you give people an easy way to help each other out, they’ll do it. And why not try to make that idea come to life in one more way [through] commuting, which in turn, helps with the environment and our stress levels, too.”
Users give and get information about the status of trains, busses, and parking spaces by texting ‘road’ to 95495. The incentive for those who give information? CARma. “People ‘give’ away or share information about commuting out of the goodness of their hearts,” Randy said. “Each time they do it, they’re awarded a streetCARma point. They can then redeem those points for gift certificates at participating businesses.”
Randy believes the multi-tiered engagement approach to Roadify is what makes the application great. “It’s sort of a win-win-win. Individuals experience a less painful commute, local businesses can get free marketing help, [and] the entire community benefits from less congested roads,” he said.
Roadify is currently available only for use in New York City, but its creators are hoping and planning for an expansion to every major city in the near future. As for Randy’s immediate future, he can’t say definitely, but he can be sure of at least one thing. “City Year opened my eyes to things like civic engagement and public service. I’ll always be aware of those things now.”
For more information on Roadify, visit their website here.
CNN Money featured Roadify as a Top 5 Start-Up at Web 2.0 – click here for the article.
By Alice Pak, Events & Alumni Project Leader.