Foursquare Propels Local Homelessness Advocacy Effort

If Duke University students and downtown business professionals on Foursquare in Durham, NC, have been oblivious to the homelessness around them, they’ll likely be more aware soon. The Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) and creative agency McKinney have teamed up to launch a location-based program where people logging onto Foursquare will be served these types of check-in options: a tent under a street overpass, a trashcan in a vacant lot, a dumpster in an alley, and an old construction site.


Such locations will be served along with regular “nearby location” options, such as restaurants, bars, clothing shops, and other retail businesses. And in the “tips” section, Foursquare users will see the dire straits locations along with a message about the UMD’s goals on preventing homelessness, as well as re-housing and supplying emergency services.

Because of the way Foursquare works virally, people who check in will be sharing the UMD’s messaging with their friends on the platform. An example: “UMD serves 220,000 meals a year. But we’d rather keep people from being hungry in the first place. Check in to raise awareness for our cause, or learn more at”

The UMD will be able to track how many users have engaged with its messaging, according to Durham-based McKinney. Janet Northern, spokesperson for the agency, told ClickZ via e-mail that the new pro bono campaign would proceed indefinitely into the coming months.

“We have no plans to stop,” she explained. “As long as people are checking in and helping us spread the word, we will keep going. Perhaps with more check-in spots, etc.”

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