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Posted at 12:47 PM ET, 09/15/2011

United Nations to launch app for education, action

The United Nations is launching its first iPhone app Thursday. (Rick Maiman/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
The United Nations is launching its first education and outreach app for the iPhone on Thursday in an effort to streamline its mobile presence and encourage users to take action on key global issues.

Aaron Sherinian, a UN Foundation spokesman, said that point of the app, called UN Foundation, is to help users “learn, act and share.”

The app pulls in information from the UN’s many social media feeds and campaigns and combines that with social media aspects and action items — such as ways to donate money to your pet causes — all in one place.

Users can organize feeds by region (e.g., Latin America or Africa) or by issue for a more tailored experience, and easily share news they see with their friends. The app will also incorporate elements of gaming, with a daily photo scramble called “Pieces of Peace” that will feature a photo related to a UN Foundation issue.

Sherinian said the organization has high hopes for the app, adding that he’s “already seen people take their mobile phone and find a chance to open up a conversation” using the information they’ve received on the app.

“It’s a powerful way to get a conversation started,” Sherinian said. “All those clicks and taps make a lot of noise when you add them up.”

The app’s launch is timed to come ahead of the UN’s General Assembly meeting next Friday, so that people will be able to follow all the news that comes out of the event. The app includes content in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.

Nonprofit and advocacy organizations have taken to the app format, which provides an excellent format for combining education and action. Users can easily donate to causes from Web-enabled phones or by texting donations.

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