Albany Business Review: Software startup raises $500,000 to track student and corporate volunteering

By Chelsea Diana, Albany Business Review

CEO and Founder Gayle Farman Co-founder and lead investor Steve Gonick

Passport for Good, a software startup that makes it easier for students and businesses to track community service hours, has raised more than $500,000.
The company was started by Gayle Farman in 2015. Farman got the idea when her daughters were preparing to apply to college, and there was no easy way to track community service hours.
Farman, who has spent her career in nonprofit leadership roles, realized it was a problem she could solve.

“Schools couldn’t say how many students were volunteering or where the students were volunteering. Schools had no data and no easy way to keep students connected,” Farman said. “We could use technology to encourage community service and keep track of verified hours. It’s creating a new set of data that schools never had before.”

As Farman was raising money to grow the company, she brought on Steve Gonick as a lead investor. Gonick joined Passport for Good as co-founder and board member earlier this year.

Gonick has worked for Fortune 500 companies, such as Johnson & Johnson. He is also an entrepreneur in residence at Ithaca College, mentoring students.

Passport for Good ultimately raised $525,000 in a seed round led by a group of regional business leaders, including Gonick and his wife Denise Gonick, CEO of MVP Health Care. Nicole Snow, founder of Darn Good Yarn, is also an investor.

Passport for Good is developing a mobile app and web application. It piloted the software with local school districts to find out what worked and what did not. Four school districts – Bethlehem, North Colonie, Albany High School and Ballston Spa – piloted the program.

It was recently approved as a statewide vendor to provide its services to public school districts across New York by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. That means Passport for Good can sell its subscription services to school districts, and those schools can be reimbursed through state aid.

Another 70 schools have requested demos since Passport for Good got that distinction.

Passport for Good has the potential to expand the subscription service to help businesses keep track of volunteer hours.

The company, based in the Quackenbush Building at 333 Broadway in Troy, has half a dozen employees, and will grow to 10 employees by the end of the year. They recently completed the IgniteU summer accelerator program.

Passport for Good is joining the Start-Up New York program in partnership with Hudson Valley Community College.