Benefit Kitchen | dbeeby
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A Busy Accelerator Season

We’ve been busy at Benefit Kitchen! In May we finished up our tenure in the first cohort at Civic Hall Labs, Civic Hall’s new non-profit accelerator. In mid-June we concluded our work with the Points of Light Foundation’s CivicX (cohort 7), where we peer invested $100K in PYT Funds and New York On Tech.

We learned a lot in each accelerator and we thank both organizations for the intensity of their programs and the staff members who invested so much time and effort in Benefit Kitchen!
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Go California VITA Sites!

The “2015 tax season” finished up this week. Our partners in California did nearly 2,000 screenings with folks who visited low income tax assistance (VITA) sites in CA. These sites do great work helping families avoid the (sometimes usurious) fees that tax preparers charge for ‘rapid refund’ checks. Nice work United Way of California!

Take Two: Benefit Kitchen Presents at New York Tech Meetup at NYU, Skirball

23886360209_fc1d854cd3_kMelanie Lavelle and Dan Beeby presented Benefit Kitchen to 700+ NYTM members on Tuesday January 5, 2016. The crowd was very supportive and the positive feedback we received was overwhelming. Thanks so much to the NYTM crew for putting on such a wonderful event!

Until the edited video is ready, you may watch it here:

Photo credit: Craig Williston /

Benefit Kitchen Wins Grand Prize at BigApps NYC

CVVC2SiWUAAb4isOn Wednesday December 2, BigApps NYC chose Benefit Kitchen as the grand prize winner in the category of civic engagement. According to NYC EDC “NYC BigApps 2015 asks entrants to make the city a better place for all New Yorkers by addressing four issues identified in Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan for a strong, sustainable, resilient, and equitable city: Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Connected Cities, and Civic Engagement.” A press release from the mayor’s office describes the project in more detail.

The day began with a three-minute pitch to the BigApps 2015 Selection Committee Judges who assessed ten projects in the civic engagement category. That evening Drew Lesicko, from AOL Alpha, presented us with the award for their work on Benefit Kitchen. Two other very worthy projects, Addicaid and IssueVoter, were also selected for judges’ choice awards in the category.

We at Benefit Kitchen are pleased to be working with city officials to highlight their progressive anti-poverty programs and AccessNYC (the city’s benefit application system). They believe, as we do, that information is power and that all New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to access the benefits they’ve earned.


Melanie Lavelle to Present at NYTM Event Tues June 2nd

Melanie Lavelle will present at the New York Tech Meetup, Women in Tech event tomorrow, June 2nd 2015, at Bloomberg.

NYTM + Bloomberg Women’s Tech Meetup

Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015, 6:00 PM

Location details are available to members only.

3 NYC Technologists Attending

To RSVP for this event please go to:http://womendemojune2015.eventbrite.comNote: this event may be listed as full on, but may still have spots available at

Check out this Meetup →


How to lower your cable bill

If you want internet, you might need to get cable (at least that’s the case in Brooklyn).

If you’re confused by your cable bill, it is not just YOU! Confusion is the name of the game when it comes to profits for cable companies. Below are some tips to try to lower your monthly cable bills. If you have something to add to the list, head to the comments section…

  1. Call to cancel your service — this may get you connected to a “retention specialist” who can offer more than the regular sales person. But see our next hint, in case this doesn’t work.
  2. If you aren’t happy with the person you are speaking with, don’t ask for a manager, call back at a less peak time when they might not be as stressed.
  3. Collect offers you receive from other cable providers and ask your service provider for a similar deal.
  4. Take your time on the phone with them, don’t be afraid to ask them to go line by line through your bill and make sure you need all of it.
  5. Investigate equipment fees. Ask them to explain these $8-$10/month fees and see if there isn’t something you could buy rather than “rent” like a modem. (Beware: some modems you buy online cannot be upgraded and may be incompatible with your service).
  6. Keep an eye on your bills (“package specials” expire and all of a sudden your bill is higher) – call back and renegotiate
  7. Be nice :) We know you always are, but it never hurts to be reminded when it is so easy to be frustrated by a confusing corporate or government entity. Remember they are probably in similar circumstances and could also use a laugh or a smile.
  8. Internet Only? Be prepared to turn off the TV! Services like Netflix and Hulu run ~$10/mo and let you watch a lot of your shows on your television using inexpensive devices like Chromecast ($25-$35) or Roku ($35-$99).

Obamacare Screening Tool

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.40.30 PMThe Kaiser Family foundation has released an excellent ACA screening tool, which can be embedded into any website.

See an example of how this tool can be embedded into your own site on this page (we’ve embedded the KFF tool into a Benefit Kitchen page). More information can be found on the Kaiser Family Foundation page.

We’ve built the KFF subsidy calculator into Benefit Kitchen’s screening tool too. On the “Resources” tab there is now a link that has pre-populated data and returns instant results about ACA eligibility and premium/copay amounts. Click for an example.