Learn and Earn

Software built for the Sunday Friends nonprofit empowering low-income families in San Jose to achieve economic mobility.

Lead Designer
Aug 2021 - Aug 2022
Cal Blueprint
2 Project Managers
7 Developers
Visual Design
Interaction Design
Design Systems
User Research
Frontend Eng

Project Overview

Sunday Friends is a non-profit based in San Jose, California dedicated to breaking the generational cycle of poverty by fostering positive development in children while educating parents to support their children's life success.

Over the course of two semesters, my engineering team at Cal Blueprint developed 2 apps, one mobile and one on web. As the lead designer from start to finish, I worked closely with the non-profit to evaluate the core needs of their organization and propose a feasible technical solution to be built out in less than a year. The mobile app will be used by families (children and parents), while the web app will be used by Sunday Friends admins.

I designed both apps from zero to one, along with a full-scale design system and design documentation to help ensure that the product can be sustained by the non-profit long term.

With a mission to help the community achieve economic mobility...

The Learn & Earn Program involves low-income families in educational events + lessons, and rewards redeemable points for their active participation.

First, families attend educational events and lessons
Through engaging in these programs, families accumulate points
They can use these points to redeem for household necessities

Breaking down Sunday Friends' Unique Model

Each month, Sunday Friends hosts weekly events providing community service & financial literacy opportunities for family members to participate in. Each event attended will reward a point value based on level of engagement, allowing families to climb priority tiers. Tier 1 grants access to basic necessities such as toiletries & household essentials, Tier 2 enables the shopping of children toys and Mother's/Father's Day gifts, and Tier 3 grants frontline access for all the offerings in previous tiers. At the end of the month, points will expire, encouraging consistent participation in community events.

Sunday Friends is looking to expand their offerings to help families to reach their goals faster.

But their current point-tracking system is unsustainable & hinders active engagement, due to manual processes on the admin side & lack of transparency for families.


In order to scale their program effectively and empower families to feel more ownership over their points and progress, Sunday Friends was looking for a digital solution that addressed the following:

‍‍‍For families....

Increase accessibility— equip families with a way to conveniently check their point balances earned from various sources (eg. community events)

For admin....

Boost efficiency — reduce large-scale manual efforts by centralizing the transaction tracking process and enabling admin to update program settings

With these points in mind, we converged on designing and building a (1) family-friendly mobile app, that acts as a connecting interface between Sunday Friends and their community members, and a (2) web admin portal, used by Sunday Friends to streamline the process of tracking transactions, automating point expirations, and helping admin manage their users and families.

Introducing Sunday Friends' product ecosystem

Set up the entire family

Parents can sign up their families for the Learn & Earn program directly from the mobile app

Previous solution:

Parents would have to go in-person to sign their families up

ADD single & bulk transactions

After an event, Sunday Friends’ admins can upload single or bulk transactions to a database, and track each member & family’s point balances

Previous solution:

Admin kept track of transactions manually using pen & paper and Google Sheets

QUick Family member Lookup

After uploading, admin can easily view each family’s cumulative and individual member balances without any need for complex formulas or manual search

Previous solution:

Admin kept track of family information through tracking information by hand and inputting in Google Sheets

up-to-date point balances

Families are able to view their up-to-date point balances & filter through their entire history of past transactions

Previous solution:

Families weren't even able to accessibly view their balances! They would have to call the NPO or go in person to check.

Who are the people involved?


How we structured our project.


Why is this a problem?

To understand the current state of the NPO, I interviewed James, the Executive Director of Sunday Friends, and 2 family members participating in the program to analyze and uncover the most pressing issues impacting existing solutions. My insights are summarized...

Inaccessible Progress Tracking🏃

For families, it is harder to stay motivated & actively engaged without an accessible way to track their progress

Lack of Ownership📈

Feeling a lack of ownership over my family's points is discouraging, it feels like they're locked away in a database

Inefficient Management 💻

Manually keeping track of point earnings and expirations through spreadsheet formulas is highly time-consuming

Inability to Grow 🌱

The community is struggling to expand beyond it's current offerings, since any changes to the program would require a massive undertaking

who is involved?

After breaking down the insights gathered in my interviews, I learned that there are multiple stakeholders involved in the overall ecosystem of this project, especially on the family side, as Sunday Friends' current program model has various roles. Before continuing to address the insights, I broke down each role and their respective responsibilities to gain clarity on each stakeholder.

The Family

The Non Profit

addressing the issues found

Ultimately, my research revealed that there's a lack of sense of community & connectedness within the Sunday Friends organization, which is affecting the nonprofit's ability to successfully meet the growing demand of families wanting to be a part of their program. To move forward with my ideation and designs, I came up with a set of reverse principles based on the themes found in research (a methodology inspired by Simon Pan & Annie Wang), and four design challenges were derived...