Article - Hacking for social good

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Hacking for
social good

For over three months, nearly 300 Slalom employees partnered with 36 not-for-profit organizations to help further their missions—from helping people rise out of poverty to improving literacy in Uganda.

 

The main event

Sixteen Slalom teams presented their Hack for Good projects to Slalom leaders, customers, and partners. The top three teams, selected by a panel of judges, were...

Building jobs and better futures


For over 25 years, Cara has transformed the lives of those affected by homelessness and poverty in Chicago. Using a holistic approach that focuses on personal and professional development, Cara has helped over 6,000 people get 9,200 quality jobs, resulting in retention rates 40 percent higher than the national average. As Cara gets ready to expand to other U.S. cities, it needs to show the impact it’s had in Chicago and transfer skills to new markets.

“I’ve been working closely with Cara for over five years. This was a great opportunity to foster a connection between two organizations I love so much. It was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on.”
– Danny Scott, consultant
Slalom Chicago

A team from Slalom Chicago helped create a new page for Cara’s website that uses interactive sliders and a neighborhood map to tell a story of how donations contribute to an individual’s journey out of poverty—as well as show Cara’s impact on Chicago as a whole. To create the site, the team used data modeling, spatial analytics, and custom shape-mapping. The site incorporated elements of Salesforce, Tableau, and Alteryx, and it all came together in Microsoft Azure. They also created a Microsoft Teams page to enhance communication and content-sharing for Cara’s growing network.

Boosting literacy in Uganda


By having just one book at home, a child in Africa has a 20 percent higher chance of graduating from grammar school. But in many countries like Uganda, children have limited access to reading material.

Pangea Educational Development (PED) created Pangea Publishing to provide culturally relevant books for Ugandan children while sharing the vibrant traditions and lessons of Ugandan folk stories with children around the world.

A Slalom Chicago team worked with PED as a strategic partner in three ways:

  1. Supply chain strategy: Evaluating printing options considering cost, logistics, quality, and timing. Distribution in Uganda will be via mobile libraries. Testing book tracking is underway via Salesforce/MapAnything.
  2. Pangea Publishing’s business model: Identifying the target market and a unique value proposition. Examining risks and benefits of a one-for-one social model.
  3. Initial print-run funding: Defining a brand for Pangea Publishing, selecting a fundraising method, and creating a compelling campaign based on user research.
“Getting to use Slalom’s design, branding, supply chain, and strategy capabilities all together on one team was really awesome. I’m proud of what our Slalom team was able to accomplish for this amazing cause.”
– Amy Meginnes, consultant
Slalom Chicago

Historically, Ugandan folk stories have only been shared orally. Now their lessons and imagery will be able to reach beyond Ugandan borders for generations to come. Each book will have both the mother-tongue language, as well as English.

Improving communication during emergencies


A Slalom Denver team partnered with a Colorado organization to create an instant, confidential two-way communication app to use during urgent situations like school lockdowns or lockouts, medical emergencies, or threats of violence in the workplace or at home. The app provides users’ geo-locations to ensure they get the help they need, and uses WiFi systems if cell services go down.

Schools across the nation are asking for access to this solution. The app will support this demand by using AWS cloud infrastructure, and will eventually become a robust data source for predictive analytics.

“I heard the word ‘hackathon’ and assumed I needed to be a coding whiz, but it was cool that anyone could participate and play different roles in the project.”
– Erinn Mitchell, analyst
Slalom Chicago

Beyond the hackathon

The hackathon is over, but for some of the teams, the most important work is happening now.

Team Cara is working on implementing the new webpage, and also planning events where more Slalom employees can learn about Cara and get involved.

“Our hope is that by continuing to foster the relationship between Cara and Slalom through volunteering and building awareness in the company, we’ll be able to find cool new ways to work together to make a big impact in Chicago and beyond,” says Danny Scott, a consultant in Slalom Chicago.

The PED team is also keeping its momentum going. It launched a Kickstarter to raise $8,400 to pay for the first two print runs of the children’s books—and quickly surpassed the goal.

Learn more about Slalom hackathons and how we foster a culture of curiosity and innovation.

            

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