Civic News
Hackathons / Social justice

How the Rebuilding Re-entry Hackathon built a coalition (and apps, too)

The hackathon, organized by Mission: Launch, brought together about thirty community organizers for a weekend of collaboration. Here are some of the projects that came out of it.

Left to right: Naomi Williams, Aliya Rahman and Max Harper work on a database identifying businesses that hire "returning citizens." (Photo by Lalita Clozel)
The headline has been changed to better reflect the nature of the event. (Updated 11/11/14, 11:44 p.m.)

About two-dozen community organizers hacked the weekend away for the Rebuilding Re-entry Hackathon, held Friday to Sunday at the Impact Hub DC.
It was about collaboration, and not competition — which is why the hackathon did not select a single winner, said organizer Laurin Hodge, the executive director of Mission: Launch. “Everyone here is working on the same social issue but we’re all coming at it from different angles,” she said.

Everyone here is working on the same social issue but we're all coming at it from different angles.

On Sunday, Hodge unveiled the creation of a new collective to harmonize the work of different organizations already invested in smoothing out the reentry process. Members will include Impact Hub DC and Impact Hub Baltimore; Public Defender Services; D.C. Public Libraries; Code for America; Code for DC; Code for Progress; NAACP; DC Bar/Pro Bono Program; and Consultants for Change.
Here are some of the projects produced over the weekend:

  • Helping Businesses Help RCs: A database that reports the hiring practices of D.C. businesses to encourage adherence to the “ban the box” principle of not inquiring about job applicants’ criminal or arrest record. The team included Max Harper, Naomi Williams, Stephanie Franklin and Aliya Rahman.
  • Clean Slate (DC): Your Criminal Record Sealing Assistant: Justin Grimes — a “team of one” — is working on a website that will help clarify the complex, convoluted process of sealing one’s criminal records in D.C. He is drawing from the already existing website, and obtaining legal information from the D.C. Pro Bono Program and the Public Defender Services Office. Our sister site, Baltimore, covered a similar effort in July.
  • DC Open 211: A database of resources available to returning citizens, a project inspired by Buscando and part of the broader DC Open 211 project led by Greg Bloom, which aims to produce a more cohesive set of data for the community resources available in D.C.
Companies: Impact Hub DC / Civic Tech DC / Mission: Launch

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