Hack the Hood for Good

Ujamaathon produces hackathons to scale social change

Hackers at a 2016 Illicit Mind hackathon.
(Image: Illicit Mind)
Hackers at a 2016 Illicit Mind hackathon. (Image: Illicit Mind)

Ujamaathon, a Brooklyn, New York-based producer of hackathons, is disrupting how things get done and bringing together leaders in tech, and other influencers, to effect change in communities.

[Related: TechConneXt Hacker Gets Full Ride to LSU]

From April 22 to April 24, students and engineers are coming together for a “fintech” or financial technology hackathon to develop products and services that address the following:

  • The unbanked or underbanked
  • Behavioral finance
  • Financial knowledge

But Ujamaathon invites not only techie types. They include community activists and city officials on its list of invitees to shift the “focus to collaboration between an array of influencers in various fields,” as its website says.

Held at the co-working space/accelerator Rise New York, the hackathon is produced through Ujamaathon’s partnership with Illicit Mind. Both organizations are founded by young African Americans: Clyon Jackson and Georgie-Ann Getton.

Of the hackathon, Getton says, “We bring in students who don’t know how to code at all, don’t know what to expect or what the format is, plus we work with participants that are experienced. But it’s a safe, comfortable space for beginners to explore.”

Students from high school to college attend, as do adults working in the tech space who serve as mentors. Although their events are not specifically geared to African Americans, Ujamaathon’s focus is on improving communities through technology.

The 36-hour hackathon includes not just the pitching of ideas and doing presentations, there are also renowned speakers like Anthony Frasier and Leon Caldwell, Ph.D.

Entrepreneur, founder, AT&T Innovator, speaker, and founder of The Phat Startup, Frasier is a serial entrepreneur who speaks about overcoming mental blocks and establishing businesses. He also promotes positive social impact and has been recognized for his philanthropic work.

Caldwell is a scholar-activist whose work focuses on driving social justice interventions through social entrepreneurship and community-centered mobilizations. He has won awards for his community-based research and teaching.

As Ujamaathon shared on its Facebook wall: Don’t underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry, or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems. – Leroy Hood

For more information about Ujamaathon, explore its Facebook page and website. To explore Illicit Mind, go here.