Hackathon Builds Tools for Social Good

by Larry Magid

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Larry speaks with Connie Yowell, Director of Education at the MacArthur Foundation about Project:Connect

Coders, writers, teachers and others concerned about making the web a better place for kids gathered in New York on Thursday for Project:Connect, a hackathon dedicated to building tools to make the Net a better place for children, sponsored by Facebook, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI),

Categories of projects:

  • Social Tools for Social Good – Enabling people to create a culture of kindness and respect that enhances civic participation.
  • Social Tools that Enable Control of Information – Helping people understand how to control their information, and manage privacy and security.
  • Social Tools that Enable Literacy – Helping people build, access, and understand or make components of the Web.


Winners of Project:Connect (photo: Krisa Kobeski)

Winners of Project:Connect (photo: Krisa Kobeski)

Social good category

    • Helpster: A website that enables people to create a culture of kindness and respect that enhances civic participation. The site brings together a community of “needsters” (those who need help with projects, small and large), “helpsters” (volunteers who can make a difference) and nonprofits and charities.
    • “DoGood.org” (not actual URL): A website that leverages pop culture to encourage youth to have a lasting relationship with causes that resonate the most with them.
    • Cyberstoop: A hyper local community that connects teens who are looking for free WiFi with businesses that donate connectivity and technology (loaner laptops and iPads) by zip code and/or neighborhood.

Enable literacy category

    • Congregate: A tool to build common ground one issue at a time. The technology prepares young people (age 13+) to participate in democracy while giving them tools to influence their own future. Users can vote on and discuss issues that matter to them most. 
    • A collaborative storytelling app/website that enables literacy, helps teens build, understand, and create a community that inspires them and helps them grow. Their storytelling community shares their passion and cheers them on as they write together.

Control of information category

      • That Could Be Your Sister: A movement driven by young people that nurtures young women and turns bystanders into a community of active supporters that help girls grow in a safe environment.
      • Digital Milestones: An online community for parents and kids where users can find resources and engage with experts to help guide young people as they experience digital milestones like creating a digital footprint, data security, privacy, digital citizenship and more.
Members of "That could be your sister" project

Members of “That could be your sister” project (photo: Larry Magid)

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