Yadaguru is an app that helps Philly High School Seniors remember all the things they have to do to submit complete applications to college on time. We're solving the problem of doors closing to good schools because of dumb stuff like a transcript getting in after a deadline. We do this through sending multiple reminders well before stuff is due. Whole support structures around students can use the app as well so they can be part of the 'reminder team' that helps kids get the docs in on time.

Release 1 was our web app You can get reminders, send them to google calendar, print out a PDF. Release 1 is in prod.

Release 2 is built for mobile - with an upgraded, cooler UX experience and text message reminders. Release 2 is due in Late Sprint 2017.

Join us by going out to github and setting up the dev environment and then pinging us in Slack to connect.

Skills needed: Javascript AWS

Project Activity

Update #28

So much going on - it sort of feels like we are in the final inning here, bases loaded and we've concentrating on the game so much we forgot to post an update. Here's what's been going on..

  1. Brian Wyant joined the team has made a great impact already, cleaning up some UI and most importantly, masking phone numbers in the DB. Great to have you you on board!

  2. Bob gave an awesome workshop on how we manage Yadaguru using GitHub Issues and a board on February workshop night

  3. We got our marketing site up and it feels pretty snazzy… check out

  4. We are in final testing. Text messages reminders are coming in as scheduled, onboarding is looking amazing.

Next steps are to close out the bugs and issues that we've found , migrate to CFP AWS, migrate to our for real twillio site (the one where we have that Rally grant waiting to be used) and set up a launch party - yeaaahhhhh!!!

Any AWS experts out there - we need you! ping us on the YadaGuru Slack channel

Update #27

We dockerized and it's literally minutes to install the whole dev stack and get up and running. Check out these awesome instructions

So easy even I (ProductOwnerScrumMasterNonCoder) could do it.

Bob has put a tremendous amount of work into this, complete with literally hundreds of API tests that run on single 'npm test' command. So awesome. We are doing the most right now:

A) finishing up the app, B) configuring twilio to get text up and running, C) then moving to CFP AWS instance.
D) Convincing twilio to give us a 501c3 discount

You are welcome to help with any of it. The front end stuff can all be found here on our waffle board. We will be at 12/20 CFP to talk through the 'Agreed We Need to work on It' column.

So if you want to learn or if you are advanced coder who wants to contribut to get us to the finish line, have we got a deal for you!

On the marketing front, we had a good season with Version 1, topped off by that awesome visit to Southwest Leadership Development Academy. Their tweet:

"Thank you to all who attended our college information session tonight with @yadaguru & @CodeForPhilly #alumni #roadtocollege #collegeweek

— Southwest Leadership (@SLACSinfo) October 4, 2016"

To date we've helped about 100 kids with applications. The focus now is to finish V2 and then start a new marketing campaign to prep for Juniors classes in May who will be seniors in the fall.

Update #26

Our marketing efforts have started to bear fruit. We gave a workshop at Southwest Leadership Academy for parents and kids. Looking at our stats since launch we've helped about 80 kids with the college application process. That's our returning user base, we have a few hundred new users who tend to spend a longer time on the app, so we assume that they are coming here once, getting the info they need either though PDF download or a push to google calendar or .ics file. Bob has made incredible progress on the app, all the routes are now built, along with some beautiful unit tests every step of the way, and we are now at the point where we can start to layer in the twilio api. We're looking at December to have a working prototype. Zach has joined us and is helping out and Brent from Twilio will help guide as as well. Right now we need people familiar with Javascript, node, AWS to help with the api. Would also be great to find some front end folks familiar with CSS, SCSS, HTML5 to help on the frontend

Update #25

Hi we are currently building the mobile app. We now have a new backend in Javascript using standard MVC architecture. Much easier to teach and we are welcoming a few new folks Rowana and Zack to help us. Bob is leveraging TDD - building in unit tests right from the beginning - which is great to both a) determine if the environment is set up correctly and b) determine if the code is good. We're getting to the point where we can begin testing twilio and we are happy to note that they have a test api for that (thanks Twilio), so we don't have to use our grant for testing. Michiko is out marketing, hold workshops for parents, meeting with schools, developing promotional materials. The marketing goal is to make people aware of Yadaguru as a niche tool and then leverage that to get them up and running with the mobile app when we move forward with that.

Update #24

We are humming along. Writing controllers on a daily basis. Feeling good. We are much cleaner now for install and setting up the environment and for getting right in and helping out. I (Michiko) also realized that our web app is incredibly useful. I'm helping a friend's daughter apply to Princeton, she's the first in her family to go to college. And it felt great to go to Yadaguru and just download that PDF of dates and it's GOOD and helpful and works! I guess because we weren't quite there with the mobile app I downplayed how useful the web app. Code for Philly can be proud that we have this awesome tool in production for Philly kids with an awesome mobile app on the way. So tell kids you know about Yadaguru so they can get the help they need for school.

Update #23

And…..we're back.

So you may have been wondering…where are the Yadaguru folks? Well, I for one, went and had a massive wedding in Pennsauken, followed by a fabulous honeymoon in sunny Florida. We all kind of took a bit of a mental hiatus from the project. With civic all volunteer projects people can reach a fatigue point and we didn't want that to happen. So we all took that break. And now, we're refreshed and ready to dive in again. I'm going to focus on building out architecture diagrams and updating the readme on github with the goal of making setup a one hour thing (right now its like 4 hours with some help needed). Aidan is pushing some code soon. And Bob and I will be at the July 12 hack night to sync up again and hopefully meet devs who want to help out on this awesome project. See you all then!


Update #22

So - need to do an update here. Twitter style. got $1500 grant from @ca to help with texts. UX redesign almost complete. Created API to handle texts with twililo. Aiming towards relaunch in May. Posting Bob's Buzz for more info.

Update #21

Last Thing - Forgot to mention that in addition to helping us figure out our user persona, Ben Novack gives great pep talks and had us energized and excited to be a part of the team. Thanks Ben!

Update #20

The team met last night at DevNuts. Discussion centered around who our real user is. It kind of started with the art major toggle. We thought that it would be a lot of work for a smaller subset of students. And probably, students who are art majors are more energized and motivated to understand the nuaces of portfolio submittal. That led to a sort of aha moment for us that we aren't really looking to support kids who already have a lot of support and/or are super on top of what they have to do. What we really want are kids who don't have support for the college application process and/or are having a hard time figuring it out even when they try. What this means is that the kids are applying to 10 schools (two of them Ivys) are probably not the kids who need yadaguru; assumed they already have some support or they are super motivated and will figure it out. We are looking for the kids who might be the first kid in the family to go to college, or in a big school system where it's hard to reach them to give them the information they need, but who sincerely want to go to college. That means that from an application perspective, we're going to have to remove some of the extras; like a toggle for art majors. We also want to talk to rolling admissions, which is sometimes a less grueling and demanding application options. To date, we haven't talked about it. We have added in our disclaimer that we handle regular decision and not early admissions or decisions. But we figured out last night that we need to also say something like 'hey if you are doing rolling admissions, pick the earliest date you can submit and we'll gear your reminders in that direction.' We also talked about cost. We are thinking it will be about .80 to $1.00 per student to use Twililo. We will obviously need some funding. But this can also be something we can ask schools to do - raise funds or contribute for their students. This might mean we might have to enter a sponsor code if someone has already paid for that student's texts. We also talked about login, and decided that we will use the mobile number and a password. We will authenticate though the phone with an initial text with a temporary password. Finally - realized that we need to use the universally recognized gear icon for settings and not the power icon. All of these issues will be written up in github if folks want to contribute.

Update #19

So..we're doing it! Met tonight and got support support support from Code for Philly. Lloyd is helping us migrate off of our personal AWS account and onto code for philly. We're building text message interface using twilio, we decided after talking to Ben, and talked through doing that. Derrick came out and will start helping with development and Bill gave us good mobile app design pointers. We're racing to build this in time for kids who are applying to school this year, so (prayers answered) we'll make it. If you want to help check out the developer link and anything that's labled 'priority' and 'help wanted' is stuff we could use help with.

Update #18

To quote Ice Cube "Today was a Good Day".

Two big events today: Usability/Pilot with high school seniors at City School and meeting with the School District of Philadelphia's Office of Strategic Partnerships.

Big thanks to the kids at City School who gave us awesome feedback and were a joy to be around.

We learned a ton by watching kids actually use the app. Here are the key learnings: 1. Pushing to Google Calendar - probably a bit of a learning curve for most high schoolers.
2. Pushing to iCal - works on some phones, not on others and is importing html characters. 3. Directions - its confusing after you click 'get my reminders' - there are a lot of buttons and it's not clear which one to push. 4. The Information is good - kids did get into the information and we heard a lot of 'oh yeah, I better do my essays'.

We debriefed and came up with some general direction on where to go next.

  1. Push to SMS as the first option instead of google calendar.
  2. Rename ical (most folks don't know what ical is).
  3. Give the information up front first before the buttons on the second page but also make the buttons clearer about what they do (ah the challenges of mobile development).

The team decided that we are going to think of some solutions and regroup with our top three on Flowdock later today, and also figure out a time when we can all meet together.

We also want to bring in more hackers and will be making pitches at a near future Code for Philly

School District

The School District is investing in helping kids with college accessiblity and is doing a big Naviance push this semester.

Our key take away from the meeting were that we:

  1. Should get SMS reminders to work - to work around the google calendar issues.
  2. We need to know if we can handle the load should the school district promote YadaGuru to schools. This is a big district, 200K students.

In all, we are so very psyched to get the feedback. The team feels that as an MVP, we have reached our definition of done. We're going to prioritze our next set of work, bring in a few more hackers to helps us, figure out how/if we adjust for load in AWS and reach back out to the school district.

Update #17

Another awesome night at code for Philly. The Big news — Yadaguru has received a grant from Code For Philly to help us with the launch!
This is maadddd exciting.

We’re going to get t-shirts and some kind of promotion materials for parents and kids to spread the word about yadaguru. We’re planning to do our launch sometime in October at a city school. Thanks CFP!

As always it is the fantastic melding of minds that feels so good at CFP. Tonight I met with K who engaged me in challenging conversation that helped me to get ultimate clarity around our what Yadaguru does, succinctly, and how we are really different from what’s out there. I was encouraged by the Votewise crew who are able to describe Votewise in one sentence. So K helped me think about that too. I met M who is a medical editor and will help edit our FAQs and reminders for grammatical correctness and flow. And I met C who made me realize that we need a persona-out our key user. I met K who is a high school student and will give us feedback on the app and that’s exciting.
So, an incredibly insightful night with brilliant people!

Update #16

The team has been working incredbily hard on the prototype. Our architecture is maturing; dev and production branches, CI, automated deploys by our newest member of the team Yadabot (who also provides PUG spam and mean squirriils as needed). Katelin has been updating the reminders on the front end, organizing the data meaningfully into reminders, testing how the dates look and working and re-working the language to make it stick with highschoolers. Michael has got the front end looking like a legit app and we've got our Made with Love by Code for Philly logo on the front page. Tonight we we're fortnuate to have Michiko's friend Anthony come out and talk to us about any changes needed for AWS to adjust for scaling. There are about 3 million applications to school in the United States each year. But we're focused on Philly and so we're not expecting that many hits ;). We decided on a definition of done, posted that in Flowdock and then used Rally to priortize our exisiting feature requests and defects to meet that defintion. We're looking towards an of an end of September date to complete, and we'll do an architectural review then. Then we'll work with some local schools to introduce the app to them. We talked a little bit about that scary moment when we'll go watch kids use the app. That will be a true moment of truth. We'll do that first, probably at the end of September, make changes based on what we see, and then get ready for launch!

Update #15

Ah the life flow hit members of Yadaguru tonight some of us are getting married, some of us are moving, some of us are doing both! So we were scarce at Code for Philly. BUT we have turned a major corner in that we are moving into Testing!!! This is huge! It means that the prototype is essentially built. Katelin, our Guidance Counselor, is going to configure the app to prep for the upcoming school year. There's a lot of wordsmithing and messaging of reminders to do. Bob and Aidan have built a admin backend that allows Katelin to add and delete reminders, to set them up with approximate timeframes in which they should be given (ie 120 days prior to application submission), to group them into categories (eg: essays), and to add all of the SAT and ACT test dates for the year. It's really quite amazing what this team of volunteers has built in the course of a few months. And also - now the site looks like -for realz - AMAZING, thanks to new addition front end developer Michael. Katelin is going to now update the app with the data she knows. She'll also probably encounter some bugs that we'll try to work out before the school year. We'll push out to Yadaguru and will be looking for some help in auto scaling in AWS. Probably in the next few weeks well also need some testing help , so we can see how the app performs on mobile devices. We need to do a few others things, like add the reminder buttons (eg: push to google, push to ical). It's a great time on team Yadaguru!

Update #14

Great night at Code for Philly. We added three members to the team including a FRONT END DEVELOPER (YAY!!). So that's HTML and CSS people and we're happy! We're creating an advisory of people who've worked with kids and in the school system withh three awesome women Julie, Lauren and Katelin. Protoytype next version was pushed out tonight -and we'll push again when we meet at 7/22. Our next set of work will be to finish up the admin section, and the admin login page, add styling to the front page and start populating with real data. Then, we'll bring in the push buttons - push to google cal, to ical, to facebook etc.

Update #13

Reaffirmed the need for this app at Code for Philly tonight. Connected with Lauren Bauman from PhillyGoes2College who has 20 hotspots throughout the city to help kids with the college applciation process. Yadaguru could be an easy tool that that counselors can use while they are explaing the process to kids. Also got to do a lighting talk on how the Yadaguru team is using ChatOps with Rally and Flowdock to stay light on process and big on getting things done. Learn more those 20 hotspots here

Yadaguru needs AngularJS developers and HTML front end folks to help with developing our look and feel. Contact us if you want to help!

Update #12

Um. WOW! We got feedback from our awesome subject matter expert, Guidance Counselor extraordinaire, Katelin. Lots of great feedback about application submission dates, sat registration dates, and how to display them at the right time and in the right order. We prioritized the admin page to allow Katelin to be able to add and update reminders and see how it shows up for the student. MEAN Developers can help with this admin page right away. Also we are looking for people who can skin this app in HTML and CSS.

Update #11

Aiden and Bob have got the first prototype up and running on AWS! Katelin will start testing this week. Lots of stuff to work on here. Hackers, we are building on a MEAN stack. Our plan is to build an admin module and refine the prototpye. Infrastructure peeps can help us configure for scale on AWS. HTML/CSS is needed for front end design. And Testers! We'll be at Devnuts on Tuesday or contact anyone on the team if you want to help out.

Update #10

We need some MEAN people! YadaGuru is looking for MEAN stack (Mongo, Express, Angular, NodeJs) developers. Contact Check us out in GitHub And/Or meet up with us on 6/2 at DevNuts.

Update #9

We are so excited that students from El Centro de Estudiantes are going help us skin the app. What's better than having students help build an app for students!

Update #7

We are super excited to report that a new Subject Matter Expert has joined the team. Katelin teaches 11th and 12th graders and will be able to let us know if our dates and messages are correct. She'll also be able to share the MVP with testers (high school juniors) who can help us figure out if we're hitting the mark.

Update #6

We now have Flowdock for daily comms. Email if you want to get involved however, we plan to be at most meetups. Look for Michiko, Bob, Morgan or Aiden.

Update #5


At tonight's meet we started the app. Got a team going; Bob and Aiden pair programmed initial architecture, created a github repository, populated the repo with initial webpages, set up an email account ( We're off and running!

Update #4

WE are now seeing the effects of guidance counselor layoffs. The reason for this app is to help with this now emerging problem. Kids with good SATs, good grades…aren't even applying to college now. Read more here

Update #3

Had a super great time at code for philly tonight, met lots of smart people with so many awesome ideas. A group of us came up with an MVP for this that would basically be a web page that would pump out a PDF.

Basically you would choose your schools and click 'go' and then the page would output a PDF with your dates.

To get to this point there will be a few steps:

  1. I will create a excel sheet that basically does the same thing. Enter in one date and all the rest of them populate. Got good advice tonight to include fafsa, school calendar and SAT test dates in the date algorithms.

  2. I'll then take the excel out to guidance counselors and verify that they would like it and use it and that the data is correct.

  3. Once that's done, I'll head back to code for philly for help in building the webpage.

Future Visioning was great too. And include:

  1. Use Phonegap to easily wrap the webpage
  2. With the app, encourage a sharing buddy, someone who can help you with the process.
  3. Be able to link to facebook and post pictures at key points like 'here's me at the SAT!!!'
  4. Give Guidance - not just short summaries but in-depth on the WHY you need to do each of the steps.

So the update…i'm working on the excel sheet. See ya soon!

Update #2

Happy to have this space to put the idea out:

This application will guide kids through the difficult college application process.

From start to finish, this should be the go-to for anyone applying to college. Instead of missing deadlines and frustrating family members, this app will work with the student to encourage them to complete the portions of their application as they move through the process.

We really want to develop this for the kids of Philadelphia, who have no counselors anymore with the budget crisis and need a lot of help.

We're hoping the project will bridge gaps for a lot of people.

See the wireframes

Read more about the full project here