Saturday, April 20th was a typically gorgeous Palo Alto spring day. For about 60 students and faculty of Stanford University, however, the weather outside did nothing to distract them from their tasks - using open data from the federal government, along with data from LinkedIn, GuideStar, and the Foundation Center to create online tools that could help young people find or create jobs in the social sector.
The genesis of the idea? The early signs of open data that we are beginning to see in the social sector, from GuideStar, the Foundation Center matched with the increasing numbers of open data sets available from government. Our goal? Begin putting these data sets to use - to drive demand, increase familiarity, suggest improvements and expansion needs to the data providers. And brainstorm and prototype some cool ideas that students feel would help them find or create meaningful, change-oriented careers and companies. The Challenge was an experiment by Stanford PACS, within the context of our #ReCodingGood project. It also served as a soft launch of our Digital Civil Society Lab.
Launched in partnership with the White House Office of Social Innovation, Stanford's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society hosted the codejam at the Design School. Six teams of students were joined by experts from The Aspen Institute's Impact Career Initiative, Benetech, the Do Something Great Today Foundation, Fluxx Software, Khan Academy, LiquidNet for Good/MarketsForGood Initiative, Palantir, TechSoupGlobal/Caravan Studios, Teach Fishing, local foundations, law and venture capital firms, Stanford's Mechanical Engineering Program and ChangeLabs, and Watsi.org who worked with the teams, suggesting data sets, design features, and business model ideas.
What did they build? Civitas, ConnectU, and EXP designed tools aimed at making the application process for social sector jobs more visible, faster, and attractive to students through a combination of internship matching tools, common applications, and work experiences that serve the nonprofits while also helping students gain critical skills and experience.
AfterTheService, a special guest project at the Challenge, had a small group of students set to work on a real project - helping the White House's JoiningForces Initiative use Palantir software and GuideStar data to better understand the universe of veteran-serving organizations. In just a day's time the team identified several previously unknown gaps in the demand/supply of these services. The project is an exciting demonstration of disparate data sets - information from the Veterans Adminsitration, Census Bureau, GuideStar and elsewhere brought into view together to inform decision makers.
The judges - an incredible panel of local tech stars and social experts including Aditya Agarwal of Dropbox, John Lilly of Mozilla and Greylock Partners, Somesh Dash of IVP and the Board of Stanford PACs, and Dustin Moscovitz of Facebook/Asana and Goodventures, and yours truly - selected two winning teams:
Aark.co is a "Career Prototyper." Using information you enter about social interests, skills, and industries/sectors of interests, it build on the LinkedIn database to show the career trajectories and workplaces of people with similar interests. Want to become a university provost or lead a global NGO? See how others who do that work got there, find contacts at places they've worked and others you may know who've worked with them.
SocialKit is designed to help social entrepreneurs make the right decision about corporate structure from the get go, and let them get on with changing the world, not filing paperwork. The brainchild of two entrepreneurial lawyers, SocialKit is already in the running of the Knight News Challenge. The team used the #GoodJobs challenge to further flesh out potential product offerings, revenue streams, and partnerships while also adding code to their prototype.
We also discovered a previously unrecognized link between data, tech, the social sector and dancing. You'll have to stay tuned for the world premier of the video... "The Evolution of Open Data Dancing," a crowdhacked version of the "Open Data Happy Dance." In the meantime, I leave you with these photos of the event, and the new motto of the group, Carpe Datum!