HAX Organization

Expanding computer science education to underrepresented minorities through providing mentorship and guidance to hackathon organizers.

Photo of Justina Chua
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Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Technology

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

haxorg.io instagram.com/hax_org

Date You Started Your Project Started

March 1, 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In a world increasingly reliant on technology, those who create it pave the way for the future - yet the marginalized often do not feel its impacts. We need to bridge gender, racial, and socioeconomic gaps in tech - the result of misconceptions and stigmas regarding programming - along with a lack of access to resources and education. With a diverse set of perspectives and voices, we expand access to CS for all through accessible hackathons.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We make progress in expanding access to computer science education by facilitating accessible, educational hackathons: 12-48 hour events where students collaborate to create a hack (project) on a topic they are passionate about. There are currently a lack of beginner-friendly hackathons because it's hard to start one without prior experience or guidance. We aim to change that by providing infrastructure for inexperienced organizers, guiding them through the process of starting a hackathon through in-depth guides and 1 on 1 mentorship, staffed by experienced hackathon organizers who provide 1 on 1, personalized assistance. Through partnerships, we expand our reach and provide financial, legal, and in-kind support. With Girls Who Code and #BUILTBYGIRLS, we reach a large audience of female students interested in CS as well as merchandise for our events. We also work with Hack Club to provide our HAXers with a financial platform to manage funding, simplify legal challenges, and more. By building a global network of beginner friendly, student run HAXathons, we hope to make CS education accessible to all and change the tide in tech.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In middle school, I was the only girl to attend a technology summer camp. Excluded from both learning and social affairs, I dismissed my interests in CS, feeling like I didn't belong. Many of my experiences in tech-related activities echo the same sentiments. In Computer Science Club, I constantly felt like I had to prove my worth or I wouldn’t be taken seriously; this feeling persisted even after I was elected President. Girls are dissuaded from pursuing tech because of the sexism they face and their stark lack of representation. I wanted to provide girls with the support I never had through starting educational CS programs in my community. However, I realized that these issues extend beyond gender - POCs and low-income individuals had to overcome even more barriers to access technology. I want HAX to serve as a community of people passionate about making CS more accessible for all.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”


5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Nicole became interested and filled out our mentee form after hearing about us via #BUILTBYGIRLS. Within a few days, we set up an initial call with her, where we discussed how we could best support her and discussed the initial goals of her event. Immediately following that, she was matched with her mentor, Eric, and they developed a plan together to organize the event and focus it on low-income and underrepresented students. He assisted and taught her how to find sponsors, locate venues, and develop an event schedule. Throughout this process, we checked in with her every two weeks to make sure the planning was going smoothly, and she continued to maintain a line of communication and set up video calls with Eric, who was able to effectively guide her through planning a successful event. As a result, her hackathon will take place next spring and is projected to impact 150+ students.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Many organizations that aim to make CS more accessible do so through school clubs, but HAX dreams bigger: hackathons that teach CS through concentrated, hands-on learning in a short period of time. We are the first organization for students, by students that provides 1:1 support for high school hackathons and promote inclusion of female, POC, and low-income students. We have garnered support from established, nationwide organizations who align with our mission. Our mentorship program is completely remote, meaning that students can create opportunities for others from anywhere in the world.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Since March 2019, we have become a diverse community of changemakers spanning 10 states and 5 countries. Our organization’s incorporation has been approved and we are close to being approved as a 501(c)(3). We are working with 15 mentees across four continents to take their hackathon from idea to reality; with ~80% of hosts being female, it is a valuable opportunity for them to make tech a more equitable space. By June 2020, we will impact 1000+ students around the world through our mentorship and hackathons. As we expand internationally, we have partnered with other organizations to provide valuable opportunities for their members. None of this would be possible without our core team of 40+ high school and college students who work remotely via Slack and conference calls. We are united by a passion for tech and social good, and can't wait to see what change HAX continues to bring.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We will continue promoting inclusion of women and underprivileged minorities in CS through mentorship and guidance of hackathon organizers. Because of partnerships with a variety of well-known tech organizations, we will soon be able to dramatically expand and improve support for our global cadre of hackathons. We are also starting a blog featuring role models who exemplify our values, unique opportunities to explore computer science, informative coverage on tech disciplines and news, and editorials surrounding people's personal experiences and struggles of being in the field of CS. One of our reach goals is to host a three-day leadership summit to educate youth on facilitating the spread of CS education in their communities.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Project Plan & Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

101 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 54%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 23%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 3%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 4%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 58%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 9%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 5%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 13%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 21%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10%

1 - This entry is weak here - 5%

No Answer - 1%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 41.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 15.4%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 3.1%

1 - This entry is weak here - 7.7%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 60%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 5%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


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