By: Anamika Dutta
Following the results of the 2016 election, Anthony Saltarelli ‘18, a computer science major, felt inspired to create an app that encourages political participation to enact meaningful change. Saltarelli took note of how people seemed to feel lost, powerless, and struggling to come to terms with the election results and their implications for the country. After nominations for cabinet positions started to make headlines, a greater sense of urgency over how citizens can make their voices heard provoked Saltarelli to start working on the app. He describes his inspiration for Stand Up for Change: “Given the historic challenges facing our nation, people are seeking opportunities to advocate for political change and protect America’s ideals.” Although Call to Actions (directives that call for an immediate response from readers/viewers) were posted all over Facebook newsfeeds, they were too spread out to be effective. If someone did not have a Facebook friend posting a Call to Action, he or she would not know about ways to get involved in the political process. Saltarelli was motivated to create an efficient platform for political discourse and action—the end result was Stand Up for Change.
The app empowers users to get involved in the political process to whichever extent they feel comfortable with. Stand Up has three main components: Call to Actions, Events, and Discussions. Meaghan Body ‘17, Chief Strategy Officer, reaches out to Call to Action organizations and forms collaborations between these organizations and Stand Up. “Call Them In,” “Center for American Progress,” and “Weekly Resistance” have all partnered with Stand Up to provide users with effective means of enacting change. Through this feature on the app, users click on issues they feel passionate about and are immediately provided with the option to call their local senator/representative to express their concerns about said issue. Users are even provided with a script, so they do not have to worry about what to say. Relevant petitions and opportunities to fundraise for different causes also are highlighted in the Call to Action section. Body emphasizes the importance of Call to Action and the efficiency of Stand Up: “Stand Up provides a great opportunity to bridge the gap between citizens and government. Streamlining the political process allows users to evoke change from the comfort of their own home or office.” Giving users the resources they need right at their fingertips makes the process much less daunting.
Stand Up also provides information about events happening in regards to current issues. Whether these are meetings, educational opportunities, or organized protests, users simply have to enter their zip code to receive a list of events happening near them. Once they click on a specific event, they are immediately directed to a discussion about the event with other attending users, and are given directions from their current location to the location of the event. This feature also allows the organizers of the event to have a centralized place to update their attendees on any changes in plans.
Stand Up’s final primary feature is its discussion section. The app allows users to collaborate with others who want to enact change. The section highlights different pressing issues facing the country and world, such as climate change, immigration, women’s rights, and foreign policy. Users can tap on an issue they feel strongly about and join in discussion with other passionate users to bounce ideas and opinions off of one another. A security feature is enabled in the discussion section to protect the community and keep the conversation productive and encouraging.
Saltarelli and Body are excited to discover the makeup of the market once the app is released. They hope it will appeal to a diverse group of users—not just those who identify with strong left-wing ideals. Stand Up is not meant to be a left-wing echo chamber, but rather hopes to encourage education and discussion from people with differing opinions all working towards the same goal. For those who are disenchanted by the happenings in Washington, Stand Up for Change is an ideal gateway to get involved in the political process and make their voices heard.