Braze Donates $500,000 to App Inventor
Today, Braze is excited to announce that it has chosen to support the App Inventor project—a free open-source platform that empowers students to create mobile applications—as part of our Pledge 1% commitment. To support App Inventor, we are making an aggregate $500,000 donation across the next four years to the App Inventor Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to support and enhance App Inventor and its educational goals.
The relationship between Braze and App Inventor spans two decades. After graduating from MIT in 2009, Braze cofounder and CEO Bill Magnuson was offered an opportunity to work at Google on App Inventor for Android. His college professor, Hal Abelson, was working as a visiting professor during a short sabbatical and tapped Bill for the opportunity. At the time, it was a project that was breaking new ground around how to design visual, intuitive interfaces so students with no coding background could still create apps for smartphones and tablets. The lessons learned from his experience there heavily influenced the Braze vision and product—most notably Canvas Flow, our visual development environment that enables brands to design and execute sophisticated customer engagement strategies. Both App Inventor and Canvas Flow lean on the concept of providing a set of “no-code” tools that are easy to use in their simplest form but for those who want or need it can be expanded in complexity.
App Inventor now serves more than 9 million active users, who have built 68 million apps operating across 200 countries. Its mission has evolved but remains simple: Empower students to create apps that matter. It has an impact that resonates globally. The App Inventor Foundation expands upon the educational initiatives of the platform by offering additional resources for teachers and students across the globe.
“This support from Braze comes at a time of significant growth and change for App Inventor,” said Natalie Lao, Executive Director at the App Inventor Foundation. “In the past year alone, we have seen our user base grow by more than 2 million users. This generous donation will be critical in delivering on our work to democratize software development and empower all people—especially young people—to be active creators in solving problems within their own communities.”
Our funds come at an important time for App Inventor. The project currently operates as a research project at MIT, yet with millions of users each year, it has grown beyond what a typical research project can support. Our investment is intended to accelerate the formation of an independent, nonprofit foundation that will scale operations, host the platform, and continue its development. We anticipate it will also fuel community outreach efforts, training for teachers and mentors and opportunities for kids to showcase their ideas.
We’re blown away by the innovation from participants and their visions for a better world. They have created apps tackling a range of critical issues across the world, from lack of safe drinking water in Moldova, to violence against women in India, to biodiversity threats in Mexico. The ethos of App Inventor aligns very closely with the pillars of our own social impact program grounded in equity, environment, and community. We’re excited to see what comes and hope that our support can help empower a whole new generation to make a difference in the world around them through technology.