"Code for Change" Honors New Digital Apps with a Public Purpose
A digital app that makes it possible for trained citizen responders to work together in teams as soon as a civil disaster strikes is the winner of the Grand Prize awarded by “Code for Change,” a tech competition at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
New York City agencies and nonprofit organizations posed technical challenges to self-formed teams of developers, designers, and specialists who participated in the Code for Change competition. The Grand Prize winner is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which needed an easy-to-use app to help facilitate communication and information exchange among volunteer emergency responders in the immediate wake of a disaster.
Code for Change gave the participants two weeks instead of a typical hackathon’s 24 to 36 hours to identify real, sustainable solutions to questions of public importance. The event also marked the first time that a big-city hackathon included challenges from both government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
This was the first time, too, that four major tech nonprofits – Code for America, One Economy, NPower, and Blue Ridge Foundation New York – joined in co-partnering a hackathon, together with NYU Wagner – with sponsorships from Motorola Mobility Foundation, Liquidnet, Centre for Social for Social Innovations, Notable, General Assembly, and Zurb.
A second Code for Change award, the Change Prize, was given to the New York City Campaign Finance Board for an app that provides citizens with information they can use to engage with the democratic process, and fosters higher voter participation in elections.
Code for Change awarded its Promise Prize to the CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development for an app that enables students to exchange, rather than buy, textbooks – and defrays their higher-education costs.
Code for Change’s Popular Choice Prize was awarded to Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for a new platform enabling middle and high school students to write and share their own book reviews with one another, and creating a space for online reader discussion groups about literature.
The awardees – who were eligible for a total of $10,000 in cash, mentor lunches, General Assembly classes, Zurb’s web design audit, and free workspace at the Center for Social Innovation – were selected by a panel of seven judges.