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Teachercom: teacher-parent auto message tool wins Random Hacks of Kindness [VIDEO]

A cheap mass text and robo-call tool for teachers to update parents on student progress was given top honors at this weekend’s Random Hacks of Kindness, a global effort that had similar events hosted in 30 cities around the world. The weekend hackathon, in which six teams and more than 30 participants conceived of and […]

Where the RHoK event will be held this weekend. (Photo via Twitter)

A cheap mass text and robo-call tool for teachers to update parents on student progress was given top honors at this weekend’s Random Hacks of Kindness, a global effort that had similar events hosted in 30 cities around the world.

The weekend hackathon, in which six teams and more than 30 participants conceived of and built technology solutions for meaningful problems, was organized by Technically Philly, sponsored by Drexel University’s computer science department and hosted at Drexel’s brand new ExCITe Center. This was the fourth of six RHOK’s that had a Philadelphia event.

The winning tool, which featured a School District IT lead invited by Technically Philly and an edtech entrepreneur, is called TeacherCom, an idea that was among more than 30 shared at the Friday evening idea-generation reception, in partnership with Hacks/Hackers and ONA,

Visit TeacherCom.org.

Check out photos of the weekend on Facebook here. Find the newly announced Philly Hackathon Pipeline.

Find all six project descriptions below.

Philadelphia Chief Data Officer and Random Hacks judge Mark Headd. Photo courtesy of NASA’s Ali Llewellyn

Judges Mark Headd, the City of Philadelphia Chief Data Officer, Ali Llewellyn, a NASA community manager and Chris Alfano, the local Code for America brigade captain ranked the top three of the six projects.

(1) TeacherCom: an automatic, mass text or robo-call tool aimed at school teachers to save time in giving parents messages, like missed homework assignments. [WINNER]
Team Members: Michael Gallagher of the School District, Daniel Lopez, the founder of LessonSmith, Graham Smith, Dan Freiman of CIM and Bennet Huber of Azavea.
Related Problem: Currently, educators struggle with complex technologies to communicate with guardians and therefore, spend countless hours trying to contact and deliver concerning news about their child.
Solution Description: An open-source, web-based application that allows an educator to select multiple students and multiple custom messages to be automatically delivered to a consenting guardian via sms, email or phone call.
Link to Code here


(2) PHLI: a .CSV file data extraction tool for the new City of Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections data API
Team Members: Stacey Mosely of L&I, Tim Wisniewski of the city Managing Director office, Casey Thomas, Mike Ball and Gabriel Farrell.
Problem Definition: Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections (L&I) Department unveiled a new API and companion web tool to get L&I data for a particular property. However, there is no way to download data for a single property or for a specified region of the city.
Solution Description: PHLI is a simple tool to download bulk L&I data by census tract, ward, zipcode, or council district.
Link to Code here and here


(3) Philly Foragr: a healthy food access and information web app built on past projects.
Team Members: Faye Anderson, James Blanchard, Justin Murphy, Chris Nies and Andrew Thompson
Related Problem
: Obesity and obesity-related diseases and health care costs are a growing problem. The adult obesity rate in Philadelphia is 32.2 percent among African Americans, it’s 38.4 percent. Limited access to healthy food choices and lack of exercise are contributing factors to the obesity crisis.
Solution Description: Philly Foragr, built on the Philly SNAP API, we are adding public transit, walking directions to supermarkets, recipes to help make the healthy choice an easy choice.
Link to Code here


StateRep.me: the web app is a continuation of a Hacks for Democracy project that aggregates information and social media messages from state representatives
Team Members: Jason Blanchard, Chris Brown, Max Freilich, Lauren Gilchrist, Justin Murphy, Chris Nies and Andrew Thompson
Problem Definition: It is difficult for average citizens to track, monitor and engage with their local representatives.
Solution Description: Staterep.me Is a hub that aggregates state rep information and activity, and will give users an opportunity to engage with and comment on the activity of their state reps.
Link to Code here


Project Burrito: a shared, global Qdoba loyalty rewards account that can be used to earn large amounts of free food that can be donated to organizations that feed hungry Philadelphians
Team Members: Chris Overcash, Stephen Douglass, Morgan Bagshaw, Sherry Bagshaw, Mike Lamond and Johan Widjaja
Problem Definition: An opportunity is being missed by unused or under-appreciated loyalty rewards programs, particularly from Qdoba, with generous offerings and flexible terms of service, and the benefits of such programs could be offered to the less fortunate.
Solution Description: With your help and Qdoba’s blessing, we bank Qdoba meal rewards points onto a shared card and use the points to help feed the needy in Philadelphia.
Link to Code here


Project ECHO: a ‘Living Directory’ of NGO in developing countries where Peace Corps fellows work.
Team Members: Sarah Blazucki of the Peace Corps, Bob Lannon of the Sunlight Foundation, Vito Salerno, Michael Reichner, John Campbell and Jim Connor Jr.
Problem Definition: Peace Corps Volunteers working in-country don’t have an easy way to find what NGOs are working in their sector in their community. The data is not easy to access or in a central location online.
Solution Description: NGO Finder is a searchable online directory that allows PC volunteers to find NGOs to connect with and create and maintain profiles for NGOs and record their experiences working with them.
Link to Code here


Companies: Drexel University / ExCITe Center / Technically Philly

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