Hacking for Refugees


All refugees face great hardship, but women and girls are among the most vulnerable. They are often victims of violence and discrimination. What’s more, two-thirds of all female asylum seekers are underage. Last week, timed with International Women’s Day, Galvanize hosted representatives of more than a half dozen organizations on our Boulder campus for a night of hacking designed to address some of the most pressing problems facing refugees globally.

In addition to Galvanize members, representatives from Flock, Girl Develop It, Women in Machine Learning & Data Science, Women Rising, Flatirons LGBTQ, Women Who Code, Go Code Colorado, Moms Who Code and others joined forces with Human Wire, a Boulder based nonprofit focused on easing the global refugee crisis.

The Hack Night included challenges for all levels of developers.

  • Create a refugee news aggregator.
  • Build a dynamic, web-based form that helps refugees identify which countries might be most likely to accept their application.
  • Determine a way to transfer money overseas that maximizes exchange rates and minimizes fees.

Flock founder Kate Catlin enjoyed the evening, and recalled one particular moment that stood out:

“At one point I walked over to a larger group that seemed a little lost. There were good ideas and many different skill sets on the team but no vision on bringing it all together. I said, ‘Sounds like you need a project manager! Does anyone have that background?’ The woman to my right stood right up and said, ‘I don’t have the background, but I can do it. Ok team let’s look at this white board together for a minute…’ She had everyone engaged and working within minutes. I was so impressed. There are so many natural women leaders that get taught by society not to use those skills lest we be called ‘aggressive’ or ‘bossy.’ Seeing a woman take the helm and lead like that is what makes me smile the most.”

For more information or to view the final projects produced that night visit GitHub.


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