The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) needed an easy-to-use app to help facilitate communication and information exchange among volunteer emergency responders arising instantly from a disaster. The resulting app won the grand prize at the "Code For Change" hackathon at NYU Wagner.

Two-Week Hackathon at NYU Wagner – “Code For Change” – Honors Four Digital Apps With a Public Purpose

A digital app that makes it possible for trained citizen responders to work together in teams as soon as a civil disaster strikes is the winner of the Grand Prize awarded by “Code for Change,” a tech competition at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.

New York City agencies and nonprofit organizations posed technical challenges to self-formed teams of developers, designers, and specialists who participated in the Code for Change competition. The Grand Prize winner is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which needed an easy-to-use app to help facilitate communication and information exchange among volunteer emergency responders in the immediate wake of a disaster.

Code for Change gave the participants two weeks instead of a typical hackathon’s 24 to 36 hours to identify real, sustainable solutions to questions of public importance. The event also marked the first time that a big-city hackathon included challenges from both government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

This was the first time, too, that four major tech nonprofits – Code for America, One Economy, NPower, and Blue Ridge Foundation New York – joined in co-partnering a hackathon, together with NYU Wagner – with sponsorships from Motorola Mobility Foundation, Liquidnet, Centre for Social for Social Innovations, Notable, General Assembly, and Zurb.

A second Code for Change award, the Change Prize, was given to the New York City Campaign Finance Board for an app that provides citizens with the information to engage with the democratic process, and fosters higher voter participation in elections.

Code for Change awarded its Promise Prize to the CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development for an app that enables students to exchange, rather than buy, textbooks – and defrays their higher-education costs.

Code for Change’s Popular Choice Prize was awarded to Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for a new platform enabling middle and high school students to write and share their own book reviews with one another, and creating a space for online reader discussion groups about literature.

The awards – a total of $10,000 in cash, mentor lunches, General Assembly classes, Zurb’s web design audit, and free workspace at the Center for Social Innovation – were selected by a panel of seven judges.

Established in 1938, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service educates the future leaders of change wherever work of public importance happens – in nonprofit organizations, government institutions, and private organizations serving the public sector. NYU Wagner prepares students to translate personal commitment into public leadership. NYU Wagner offers advanced programs leading to the professional degrees of Master of Public Administration in Public and Nonprofit Management, Master of Public Administration in Health Policy and Management, Master of Urban Planning, Executive Master of Public Administration, Executive Master of Public Administration: Concentration for Nurse Leaders, and Doctor of Philosophy. For more information, visit

ABOUT One Economy’s Applications for Good:
One Economy is a global nonprofit that uses innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information to low-income people. More than 19 million people have used One Economy’s online tools and resources on its Public Internet Channel to build better lives. In 2011 One Economy launched, a platform for software developers, game designers, students and other innovators to collaborate on creating applications for social and economic development. To date Applications for Good has been involved in the creation and distribution of several apps for public purpose including, and

ABOUT Code for America:
Code for America is one of the fastest growing technology nonprofits in the world. The organization helps government become more connected, lean, and participatory through new opportunities for public service that create relationships and networks to support lasting change. Most recently, it partnered with the City of San Francisco and Google to create a new civic incubator. Code for America’s Brigade project is an organizing enterprise for civic-minded developers, designers, data scientists, and leaders who will contribute their talents towards addressing everyday problems. Brigade’s virtual network and live events connect people, projects, and places.

ABOUT Npower:
NPower is a national nonprofit providing IT training and services to nonprofits and young adults. NPower aims to bring the IT community together to do social good and offers its services through 3 programs – The Community Corps, Technology Service Corps and a fee-for-service arm, IT Professional Services. The Community Corps, NPower’s newest initiative, provides an online matching service that connects IT professionals to nonprofits in need of IT assistance at no cost to the nonprofits.

ABOUT Blue Ridge Foundation:
Blue Ridge Foundation New York launches technology-based ventures to advance equal opportunity in America. Our social innovation incubator helps develop effective strategies for connecting people living in high poverty communities to the opportunities, resources, and support that they need to fulfill their full potential. Founded in 2000, Blue Ridge has provided $9.5 million to nearly 20 start-ups, which have subsequently raised in excess of $110 million during their time in Blue Ridge’s portfolio and positively impacted tens of thousands of lives. Support for start-ups (nonprofit or for profit) includes up to $500,000 in seed funding over an organization’s first years; free space in Blue Ridge’s office; hands-on management assistance; and, access to a broad network of social sector leaders.


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