> GlobalHack

St Louis–based nonprofit that drives social impact through technology

GlobalHack is a St Louis–based nonprofit that drives social impact through technology, and their approach is two-pronged: GlobalHack runs software competitions that solve civic and social issues, and they put on computerscience and coding opportunities for kids in area schools.

GlobalHack asks many questions, and most of those questions start with the word “How.” As simple a word as it is, it indicates an eagerness to solve a problem, not just identify it. GlobalHack asks, How do we educate our youth to be future-ready? How do we put on events that can be funded and are attractive to local participants? How do we sustain the work we’re doing in the long-term?

The nonprofit’s creation in 2013 was itself an answer to a “how” question: “How can local technologists create software that solves real-world problems?” More specifically, its series of hackathons—software-creation projects that took place over the course of the weekend—was the answer. Local corporations mostly sponsored the events and local tech startups were the participants. Eventually, GlobalHack pivoted to use these successful events to shed light on—and then solve—civic and social issues affecting residents of the St. Louis areas.

The first hackathon of this focus took place in 2015, and it centered around the city’s criminal justice and municipal court systems. The question? “How can we provide better information to citizens who are simply looking to pay their debt to society and move on?” The following year’s hackathon focused on building capacity with local homeless shelters and support agencies, and also on the software these enterprises use.

In 2018, GlobalHack’s hackathon sought solutions for foreign-born individuals, posing questions like, “How do we improve their experience when they come to the state, in terms of connecting them to employment opportunities and more?” “How do we tell their stories through visualizations or some other means?”.

GlobalHack’s public-facing hackathons have much in common with its efforts in local schools; it’s about education, preparing community members for a future that, without that education, can seem like it holds no place for them. Nationally, fewer than 25% of American schools offer computer-science courses for their students, putting them at a steep disadvantage when more and more jobs depend on technological literacy.

“There’s such a huge demand both from educators but also from parents as well for this kind of education, as they start to think about what they want for their children and their futures,” says Matt Menietti, GlobalHack’s Executive Director.

“If their schools aren’t exposing students to STEAM programming, they seek out organizations like GlobalHack to give them access to tech in a way that is a little different than having students just play on their iPads; it’s more about creation and exploration and curiosity.”

To that end, GlobalHack brings in coding courses and other computer-science programs to provide students with the tools, skills, and experiences they need in order to be successful in a digital economy.

“We’re really intentional about making sure we provide accessible computer-science opportunities for all students in the St. Louis area, particularly those in low-income areas,” Matt says.

With its laser focus on the city it calls home, GlobalHack is helping to close not only a tech-skills gap but also civic ones; gaps that can prevent people from moving forward financially, gaps that prevent people from understanding one another. How does GlobalHack do it? One thoughtful question at a time.

GlobalHack

www.globalhack.org
(314) 896-4225
[email protected]
GlobalHack 401 Pine St. St. Louis, MO 63102

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