MIT Public Service Center



PDO is a nonprofit charity targeting the needs of impoverished children ages 0-9 within the U.S. (and eventually abroad).  Unlike most charities PDO provides its services via the web by making and fostering direct relations between donors and recipients on the website utilizing a friendly, but safe networking environment similar to Facebook.

Donors on the site can search a database of children that have been screened and certified as living in poverty, upon locating a child a donor can review the child's needs profile (online shopping cart of items related to the child's well-being), then select items to donate to the child.  The financial value of chosen items is then delivered to the parents of the child utilizing electronic gift certificates that are keyed to specific items, thereby preventing potential abuse. Utilizing PDO donation methodology a donor could potentially help a single child with a $100 donation or 10,000 children with a $1 million donation within a total transaction time of less than 10 minutes, a dynamic that has never before been possible.

The Challenge

The challenge will be developing a functional charitable transaction platform based on PDO's live prototype.  The goal is to create a beta version of the platform that can be used in a pilot program and establish proof of concept.  Due to funding limitations the skills sets required for implementation of the platform are currently outside of PDO's reach.  Any MIT student that is able to meet this challenge has the potential of being in on the ground floor of a “paradigm shift” in how issues related to poverty are being addressed globally and gain seniority for full-time positions when expanded funding is achieved.  This project has the potential of becoming the largest open-source in the world due to its applicability in any country that has Internet and poor populations.

Qualifications, Preferences, and Assets

A minimum of 3 years experience with PHP & MYSQL required, experience with open-source development models and Content Management Systems, and those with active presence in multiple open-source communities desired.

Upperclassmen or graduate students preferred.

Time constraints

Help is welcome anytime!


MIT students interested in developing projects around these ideas should contact Darryl Penrice at +8615980935957 (or skypename: hober_mallow) or email him at

PSC Support

MIT students who develop projects around these ideas may apply for support from the Public Service Center’s Fellowships, Internships, or Grants programs. Please check the program descriptions and deadlines and talk to program staff to determine which is most appropriate for your needs and project.

If you are eligible for Federal Work-Study, you should consider our Community Service Work-Study program. Contact the program coordinator at for more details.

If you want to volunteer or you have funding from outside the PSC that enables you to work on one of this project, that's great! However, please do let us know if you work on a project you saw advertised here, even if you don't use our funds. And remember, the PSC staff are happy to advise on service projects even if we are not funding them ourselves.

MIT Public Service Center
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