When asked about athletes roles in society, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spoke about social responsibility in the community. The question was spurred by the recent ESPY's where prominent athletes spoke. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
When asked about athletes roles in society, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton spoke about social responsibility in the community. The question was spurred by the recent ESPY's where prominent athletes spoke. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

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Cam Newton charity partners with startup focused on making Charlotte more active

By Katherine Peralta

kperalta@charlotteobserver.com

September 14, 2017 08:00 AM

UPDATED September 14, 2017 10:46 AM

Cam Newton’s charitable foundation is partnering with a Wilmington startup to launch a mobile app that, ironically, encourages users to “unplug” by presenting them with a map view of activities going on in their area.

But you won’t see the Carolina Panthers quarterback posting about the arrangement on social media quite yet.

The app, which launched Thursday morning, is called Jomo, which stands for “joy of missing out” – a play on words of the popular acronym FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” Its CEO, George Taylor, says the free app helps users find nearby activities like tailgating before a concert, playing a game of pick-up basketball or participating in a cooking class – sort of like a local version of Eventbrite, but with a focus on spur-the-moment activities.

“For me, it started somewhat out of frustration and necessity. When you’re hanging out with friends at a restaurant or whatever and half your friends are on their phones, whatever they’re experiencing at that moment isn’t enough,” Taylor said.

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For every download, Jomo will donate $1 to the Cam Newton Foundation, which, Taylor says, shares the app’s mission of promoting active lifestyles. Taylor got to know Newton and his foundation last spring during Newton’s annual charity kickball tournament.

“They don’t need a lot from us, which is nice. They don’t want Cam to blast this out on his social media,” said Kim Beal, director of Newton’s foundation.

The funds, she said, will go toward a variety of the charity’s causes, including fitness programs in schools and Newton’s annual Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh holiday event.

Jomo is partnering a number of groups and businesses – including the Charlotte Knights, Roaring Riot, Unknown Brewing, Opera Carolina and the U.S. Whitewater Center – that will encourage their audiences to download the app.

For the first year and a half, Jomo has no focus on making a profit, Taylor said. The purpose of launching first in only Charlotte is to build a strong user base. Businesses will be able to make their own page on the app eventually, Taylor added.

Taylor said they hope to have Newton start promoting the app toward the end of the year, when it launches nationally.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta