What happens when you bring together four nonprofits, the leading technology-focused corporation in finance, and more than one hundred elite computer science students from colleges across the country?
Solutions. And a lot of used coffee cups and empty pizza boxes.
JPMorgan Chase’s Jersey City location recently hosted the Code for Good hackathon. As part of JPMC’s effort to engage the next generation of students in real-world software development, the company invited students from leading colleges to participate in an all-night competition to develop and design technology solutions for nonprofits.
Family Promise was joined by SixDegrees.org, the International Rescue Committee, and the Chopra Foundation at this event, which also featured a competition among high school students. Each nonprofit shared a particular challenge they were facing that technology could help solve, and the students, broken into teams, set about identifying innovative ways to bridge those gaps.
They had less than 24 hours to do so, and nearly all worked through the night, consulting with the nonprofits and with JPMC staff as they imagined, connected, tested, and eventually developed proposals with specific applications. Each team of students presented, from which a champion was selected for each nonprofit. Those four then competed in a final round, with the victor being a team working for the International Rescue Committee.
But, truly, everyone was a winner. The students found the experience exhilarating and profoundly rewarding, getting a taste of corporate IT but in the service of the greater good. The nonprofits walked away with a plethora of truly inventive possibilities rooted in actual programming code and applications.
Family Promise was honored to be among the four nonprofits and left the event with great insights on ways to connect graduate families with their Affiliate staff after they leave the program, helping to keep the families stabilized and providing stronger metrical information. As Ryan Berens, Family Promise’s Director of Technology noted, “Code for Good was an outstanding opportunity for us to explore innovative ideas, and better learn what to expect when it comes to our technology initiatives. Seeing firsthand what creative, talented students could develop in less than a day was exciting, and it helps strengthen our ability to better identify not only what is possible, but what is achievable, as well. Striking this balance is crucial to help the families we serve, and we are grateful to the team at Code for Good/JPMC, the staff who volunteered their guidance, and, most of all, the students themselves.”
Family Promise CEO Claas Ehlers added, “These kinds of partnerships—among corporations, skills-based volunteers, and nonprofits—are essential to addressing the major problems, like family homelessness, that we face. We are thrilled to have been a part of this productive and inspiring event.”
As a next step, Family Promise and the other Code for Good partners will be considered for JPMC’s Force for Good program, which will marry JPMC experienced IT talent for hundreds of hours of pro bono technical consulting, giving nonprofits the opportunity to significantly upgrade their capacity. This is yet another way that private sector and non-profit partnerships benefit multiple parties and address critical social problems.