Looking Forward to 2017
December 8, 2016
Friends of GlobalHack,
As 2016 comes to a close, I wanted to look back on our accomplishments over the last 12 months and let you know what lies ahead for us in 2017.
GlobalHack VI Recap
GlobalHack VI was a massive success. Anchored by our partners at Saint Louis University and St. Patrick Center, we saw over 1,000 participants gather at Chaifetz Arena to build solutions to end chronic homelessness in our region and beyond. By the end of the competition, only 15 winning teams emerged from a pool of 156 final teams. We saw a 4x increase in participation from our last event, GlobalHack V, increased women/minority participation by 6%, and almost 50% of our participants were first-time hackathoners. We’d like to also thank Monsanto, the Cunnane Family Foundation, the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University, and St. Patrick Center for serving as the lead sponsors for this event, alongside dozens of other supporters. For a complete list, please visit our sponsors page. A full list of donors will be included in our 2016 Annual Report, which will be distributed early next year.
GlobalHack VI Project Implementation
We will be taking a break from our traditional, three-day hackathons in 2017 (and will resume in 2018), which will allow us to focus on fully building out the prototypes generated at GlobalHack VI in October. GlobalHack staff, alongside representatives from St. Patrick Center and area Continuum of Care groups (CoCs), are working diligently to address two of the most pressing issues related to homelessness in the St. Louis region: prevention and coordinated entry.
Prevention, as it relates to homelessness services, involves using data and behavior to better predict and identify those individuals who are at-risk of becoming homeless. Once identified, resources and preventative measures can be leveraged to keep people in their homes. This provides a number of system-wide benefits, reducing the need for already limited resources like utility assistance or beds at a housing shelter, as well as emergency room visits, arrests, and similar societal costs. We are currently working to identify sources of this information (utility/housing/legal) that would correlate to increased chances of homelessness so that we can connect households with resources while they are still homed and prevent homelessness from ever occurring.
When someone in need of programs or services engages with a homeless agency, they are typically evaluated and scored by their level of need. For example, a score near 0 likely means that the individual (client) may need a day’s supply of groceries. Higher scores likely point to chronic homelessness, often accompanied by some form of mental illness. While this process is typically done on an organization-by-organization basis, it is not done across service providers. By providing a common intake process (much like a common grant or school application), agencies will have access to shared client information and can better make referrals to programs or services that will get them back on their feet. GlobalHack’s coordinated entry database will feature an open API (essentially a ‘handshake’ between two software applications) that will allow homeless service providers to keep using the systems they are already accustomed to while providing them with the client information they need. This will massively reduce duplications around data entry and reporting commonly associated with these systems. A collective impact process of this nature has the potential to be a game-changer for the homelessness industry and could serve as a national model for other communities.
GlobalHack anticipates having the coordinated entry system available for beta testing with select partners in mid-2017, and a full production-ready system in place in 12 to 18 months.
In an effort to better develop the talent pipeline for tech talent in St. Louis, we launched our youth programs in February of this year. Positioned as entry-level exposure to software development, we hosted 28 separate workshops for youth, attracting 802 total students from 47 area schools.
Workshops and Challenges
As a result of these programs, we’ve decided to standardize our events to make them more accessible for those who have little to no coding experience. In the Spring of 2017, we’ll be hosting a variety of youth programs (which include several day-long challenges) at a variety of different locations in St. Louis, including the Saint Louis Science Center and Cortex.
GlobalHack Summer Camp
While individual workshops and hackathons are valuable at generating excitement around computer programming, students learn and retain coding principles and practices best when fully immersed in a learning environment. Starting in June of 2017, we will be hosting a coding-focused summer camp in St. Louis (location TBD). Parents will be able to sign up their students for weekly sessions from a variety of different courses available for both beginners and advanced students. Scholarships and transportation will be made available for students or schools who meet certain admission requirements. We will notify our network once a location has been selected and registrations are open, so please forward our information to other parents or teachers who may be interested.
Youth Coding League
Launching in Fall of 2017, the GlobalHack Youth Coding League, similar to competitive leagues in athletics, debate, or robotics, aims to elevate the rapidly-growing interest in computer programming. The goal of the league is to transform the software development process into a team spectator sport that is both entertaining to watch and fun to compete in, while teaching participants real-world software development (hard) and team-based (soft) skills. The league will cater to any student who has an interest in computer programming and technology, regardless of their familiarity with coding, skill level, or socio-economic background.
We have a lot planned for 2017, and we can’t do it alone. If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer or donor, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Executive Director, GlobalHack