Vancouver non-profit app developers win $750K prize from Google

Vancouver non-profit app developers win $750K prize from Google

A Vancouver tech non-profit has won a prestigious award from Google.

PeaceGeeks won the Google Impact Challenge Thursday in Toronto and will receive $750,000 to develop an app to help refugees navigate their new lives in Canada.

"It was incredibly exciting," founder Renee Black told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "It's a game changer for us."

PeaceGeeks previously developed an app called Services Advisor that assists refugees in camps in Jordan, Turkey and Somalia find survival essentials using their smart phones, like shelter, food, and medical assistance.

Their upcoming app is called Pathways, and it aims to connect them with things like language classes, housing and employment services in Canada.

"35 per cent of immigrants are not aware of the services available to them. That means you have a situation where you've got doctors and engineers driving taxis," Black said. "That's just a real loss of the potential of the talent we have coming to this country."

The app will have special focus on women, Black says, who face more barriers as refugees.

Black says over the next few months, PeaceGeeks will be working with immigrant services groups to develop and pilot the app.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast