Malous Kossarian HM ’12 quit her job at IBM in November 2016 to create Magnify Progress, an app that allows users to connect to organizations, politicians, and each other to take action.
The idea originated when she struggled to find volunteer opportunities after graduating.
“There is so much stuff all over the place and it’s really hard,” Kossarian said. “You could be working and say you could help on the weekends, but everything is on Wednesday mornings and you can’t help anymore,”
Kossarian said her idea was several years in the making.
“I had been thinking about doing a platform for volunteering for a long time, basically taking all the volunteer opportunities in local areas and making a filter system where you could say, ‘I want to give two hours on Saturday for the next six Saturdays and see what the options were,’” she said.”
Today’s political climate — in which activism has been particularly widespread — inspired her to extend the app from just volunteering to political activism.
“After the election and after people that I knew started getting a lot more aware and a lot more involved in politics, the thought shifted from just volunteering to getting more socially and politically active, so we also tied in bills,” Kossarian said.
When a user logs into Magnify Progress, they receive a personalized feed catered to the type of action they want to take for the causes most important to them. This could be anything from finding local protests or volunteer opportunities to calling their representatives about current bills being proposed.
“A lot of the time I think people don’t see bills until they’re voted on,” she said. “If we could get the information easily accessible to people who care about it, and they could make calls earlier on, we thought it could give them more of a voice.”
Magnify Progress both gathers this information automatically and through organizations putting the information directly in the app.
“If you follow a bill or follow a topic and something new happens that is in any way connected to you … we make an automated action for you to call about that,” Kossarian said.
Users can connect with friends through Facebook and tag them in actions they could take, including friends not in the local area, who can attend events on others’ behalf.
Kossarian said her experience at HMC and The Claremont Colleges contributed to her success with Magnify Progress.
“There’s a feeling from being there that’s like you can solve anything as long as you break it down into something you can handle,” she said. “I think that really came out of Harvey Mudd and being at The Claremont Colleges, which I think are all kind of like that.”
Professor Adam Johnson spoke about what Kossarian contributed as a student at HMC.
“Malous Kossarian took a lab course and a lecture course from me, but that isn’t what I remember most about her. She always had a smile on her face and was able to bring a sense of humor to any situation. For example, when I went on sabbatical a year early, she was no longer able to do her senior thesis project with me. I remember taking my whole group out to dinner and she spent most of the meal pretending to pout. What a character,” Johnson said.