How We Hacked 4 Good

Marc Manashil's picture

Last Saturday, we hosted a day-long Hack 4 Good at the TechSoup Global headquarters in San Francisco. Inspired by the Social Good Summit and Hackathon that took place the same day in New York City, the Saturday Hack 4 Good brought together community leaders and developers interested in the potential of building apps 4 youth. The event was made possible through the generous support of Microsoft and its Transforming Communities grant.

The event attracted 30 attendees including developers, representatives of innovative nonprofits and projects as well as several TechSoup Global staff. Here’s a recap of what we accomplished!

We started things off with a pep talk by our Vice President, Billy Bicket, who introduced our vision for the NetSquared platform and our desire to amplify innovative projects and unleash human capital towards them.

To provide a source of inspiration for the day ahead, we were fortunate to have two great speakers join us. Ivo Gormely presented his latest venture called GoodGym, which organizes group runs that enable participants to get exercise exercise while achieving social good by paying visits to elderly and disabled people who are socially isolated. Kalimah Priforce of Qeyno spoke of a classroom product he’s developing that uses game-like rewards to expose youth to career opportunities, online subject-specific mentors and challenges that have the potential to yield prizes, internships, and scholarships.

After giving our presenters the opportunity to share their projects, it was then the attendees turn. Participants divided into small groups where they introduced their ideas along with their stage of development (ideation, in-progress or complete). In all, 14 projects were surfaced during these discussions and presented, including:

Cap of Change, Emiliano Sanchez

Chagora, Tom Crowl

Charity Wallet & Transpire Foundation, Heather Chiu

Girls Empowerment in Pakistan (yet to be named), Kamael Sugrim

GoodGym, Ivo Gormely

Hidden Genius, Kurt Collins & Kilimanjaro Robbs

Learning Commons, Jeff Miller

Little Star, Sheetal Singh

Making Career Discovery into a Game (Careerspotting 4 Kids), Kalimah Priforce

Open Entry, Dan Salcedo

Teen Developreneur and WHOmentors, Rauhmel Fox

Travel Relay

During the third segment of the day, we transitioned from surfacing general project ideas to hosting open sessions where individuals could share their challenges and ask for feedback and practical assistance. We organized these sessions using an Open Space Technology style format during which attendees pitched their project ideas and invited participants to a 1/2 hour open session over two scheduled time slots.

Of all the open sessions, Charity Wallet had the strongest amount of momentum, with about seven participants continuing to meet into the late afternoon. The CDI team also received helpful feedback on Hacker Helper as well as ways we could connect people and projects on the new NetSquared platform.

The event concluded with a closing circle during which participants shared their “a ha” moments and major takeaways. There were several very helpful pieces of feedback. One person noted that for all the talk about youth, there were no actual youth represented at the event. We also heard that “hackathon” may not have been the most appropriate word to describe the event, as there was very little coding that took place. Nevertheless, there was a lot of positive energy in the room, and participants felt that they had made great connections. For the organizing TechSoup staff, the event was a great learning experience and provided a strong foundation for building long-term relationships with attendees and holding even more responsive events in the future.

Whether you were an event attendee or just an interested observer, you can still get involved!

1. Publish: If the event inspired new ideas about your work, publish them on the platform here.

2. Connect: Follow and connect with the ideas, people and programs that interest you.

3. Participate: For those of you in SF, sign up to join us for the next NetSquared Local meetup to continue the conversations and make new connections. You can sign up here.

4. Other. Drop us a line if you have ideas about the best way to organize the next event focused on youth issues, here or @MarcManashil.

On behalf of the entire organizing team, we’d like to thank everyone who participated in this special day. We were inspired by your energy, knowledge and the innovative ways your work aims to empower youth!