It’s a shocking but true statistic: According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while attending college. That’s why Chappaqua residents and former Horace Greeley High classmates Jack Zandi, Zach Csillag, Racquel Giner, and Billy Sadik-Kahn became determined to help victims and raise awareness through their just-released phone app called Reach Out (download for free via the iTunes app store), which was developed through their company, Capptivation, with the help of initial funding from family and friends.
The app is simple; a student can select the school they attend from a list of thousands. From there, they chose from a menu of options, including a guide that features phase-by-phase information and lists of resources that a survivor might find helpful immediately after an assault. Other features of the menu include medical care information, reporting options, prevention/education videos, and advocacy and support groups that are local to the user.
Csillag explains that while living on a college campus for four years and working with the school’s administration, he and his friends noticed a lack of available and relevant information for students regarding the landmark Title IX ruling, which not only protects students from gender-based discrimination, but also decrees that all colleges must have established procedures for handling sexual-assault complaints.
“We wanted to come together to fill a void on campus, and that being the access to up-to-date and relevant information for students around Title IX,” he explains. “We realized in order to solve a problem like this, the solution had to come from people that can relate to college students.”
Upon realizing many colleges and universities (big and small) don’t openly promote essential victims’ resources, such as medical-care options and contact information for Title IX administrators, the foursome went to work pooling information into one easy resource guide.
So far, the team has worked directly with more than 35 colleges and universities across the country, and plans to continue building relationships with schools in order to offer a complete, cohesive guide on every university in the United States. They also hope to work with high schools in the future. To that end, they wanted to ensure Reach Out was relatable, straightforward, and intuitive. In a bid to appeal to younger users, an emoticon is placed next to each resource indicating its confidentiality. The app also comes with a complete emoji keyboard that users can refer to.
A complementary program, The Console, gives school administrators full access to the same resources (there are currently more than 31,000 in the system). While it can only be accessed on a desktop or laptop, it allows approved administrators the authority to edit existing resources and add in new ones, helping keep Reach Out continually up to date.
All four founders have decided to dedicate themselves full-time to growing Reach Out. They divide responsibility equally, and have also received outside assistance from programmers in Philadelphia and Barbados. “This has been a labor of love,” Csillag confirms, one he and his colleagues hope will have an impact far beyond its Westchester beginnings.