Hacking for humanity 2019

Hacking for Humanity is a 2-day code-a-thon where developers, designers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs, educators and mentors work together to build apps that solve social problems.

Uniting to solve SF Bay Area challenges

On Novemeber 2nd and 3rd, DocuSign hosted Girls in Tech annual hackathon. During two days teams worked together to come up with a prototyped solution that could address a local challenge.

During the planning of the event, Girls in Tech board members decided the solutions of the teams had to be related to SF Bay Area challenges such as homelessness, affordable housing, economic disparity, and transportation.

In order to facilitate the sparking of ideas it was necessary to connect the participants to the current situation. We had as guests of honor and keynote speakers two non-profit leaders:

  • Martina Cucullu Lim - Executive Director at EDC.
  • Cindy Dovinh - Corporate Relations Manager at St. Anthony’s.

After a five minute speech were speakers explained how the non-profits operate and what were their everyday difficulties, a Q&A space was given to the teams to expand on their understanding of the situation. After this, both Martina and Cindy, stayed for a few hours to resolve any other questions that could arise from the teams on a one on one basis.

Hacking begins!

Teams started the ideation phase after having a workshop with Ideo lead by Katie Alba, Designer Director and Kat Chanover.

Time to deliver

The hacking started at 14:00 h and ended next day at 14:30 h. This gave aproximately 24 h to come up with an idea, develop it, prototype it and submit it. Fortunately for the groups, on November 3rd, an extra hour was added to the clock due to the end of daylight saving time.


Two more additional workshops were available during the first day. Everyone was notified in advance and were invited to join if desired. Below a brief description of the workshops:

  • Random acts of inspiration with Python led by Katie Wilden

During her workshop, participants learn to use Python to build a “random inspiration generator”. The idea was to introduce Python to participants while building something they implement in their project.

  • How to Prototype with SketchApp led by Albert Chen

Albert demonstrated how to get started with SketchApp to design mocks for your ideas. Also, he introduced participants to the basics of mapping a MVP, explain how to use SketchApp and finally, use it to share an executable design to the rest of the team.

Brain food

We had over 80 participants working hard day and night (yes, most of the participants slept over) and keeping them energized was essential.

All day snacks were available from natural energy bars to chips. Drinks were also important: water, coffee, tea and sodas.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided both days including a vegan option for participants that requested menu limitation.

Hacking ends

On Sunday, teams had to submit their projects so an anti-plagiarism engineering team reviewed them.

Teams got a presentation order and judges heard the pitches with the proposed solutions. They evaluated them based on the following rubric:

  1. Theme
    • Impact gor the issue hoping to resolve.
    • Relationship to H4H.
  2. Design
    • Ease of Use
    • Fluid interaction
    • Visually appealing
  3. Pitch/Presentation
    • Solves a community need
    • Concise and organized presentation
    • Share the mic
  4. Technical
    • Prototype works
    • Lo-Fi vs Hi-Fi
    • Technical effort

Note: From the original 11 teams, 10 submitted their project.

Winning team: Wonder Womxn

Team Wonder Womxn had a solution that appealed the judges in many ways. It granted the team the first place and a $1,500 US prize.


Finding what you need to do when you are in a challenging situation such as being evicted, need legal advice, receive medical attention, among others.

Current situation

When people google about their situation and/or options there’s not a true source of information that helps them find the right people at the right time.


A web application that inform users:

  • Non-profits that can help with the problem they’re facing.
  • Contact information and working hours.
  • A list of documents that they will be requested for the particular issue.
  • An list of forms they will be required to fill by the organization.
    • Option to pre fill the forms.
  • A dictionary of legal terms to help the user understand how to fill correctly the forms and/or read the documents provided.

It’s worth mentioning that the solution was visually engaging and calming. The team focused in giving a sense of “calmness” and commented:

“when users are entering the site is because they are living a challenging situation. They feel stressed and the site should help them feel calmed, ground them.”

Girls in Tech: Big thank you!

As part of Girls in Tech Advisory Board member, this has been an amazing experience. Managing the volunteers was a responsibility I enjoyed and I want to thank the 19 volunteer’s for being part of the hackathon.

Volunteers were divided in three areas:

  • Operations
  • Mentors
  • Workshop leaders

All of them, had am enourmous contribution and were extremely supportive. I received a lot of positive feedback from attendees and many women want to keep learning code and get more involved as well as participating in future events.

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