The Bridge for Youth Messaging Application

Andy McGrath News

DevJam co-produced a text messaging application for The Bridge for Youth. This text service will serve as a counseling center web application for counselors to connect with homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth via text messaging to offer real-time advice, crisis counseling, and shelter services at The Bridge for Youth.

DevJam product developers Matt Bjornson and Bob MacNeal collaborated with Marie Harvat, Information Technology Manager at The Bridge for Youth, to produce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) representing the tool’s core functionality during an initial 4-week window. Our MVP enabled Marie to work with counseling staff to drive subsequent feature development.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.51.12 PM
The application MVP functionality included:

  • A Lobby view of the latest incoming text message conversations awaiting a counselor’s response (above);
  • A Team view of each active conversation thread along with the counselor working the case; and
  • A My conversations view with a counselor’s assigned cases and details around each conversation thread (below);

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.52.35 PM

Bi-weekly feedback sessions guided new feature development including:

  • Role based access control;
  • User provisioning from a platform administrator’s view;
  • Resolved conversation archiving;
  • Conversation report generation;
  • Conversation alerts and notifications; and
  • Bitly integration for Url shortening.

The technology-stack includes:

  • A Microsoft MVC web application using razor views, Bootstrap, jQuery, and SignalR web sockets (for live messaging updates);
  • A Twilio integration for text messaging services; and
  • Microsoft’s Entity Framework fronting an Azure cloud SQL Server database.

The Bridge for Youth received a Microsoft BizSpark grant for website and database hosting on Azure Cloud Services.

Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth is one of the nation’s first shelters for youth. Core services include:

  • a 24-hour crisis hotline for youth and families; and
  • a 24-hour emergency and extended-stay shelter for youth ages 10-17.