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

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

August 27, 2002

Help us stay in touch!

2245044587 339 Tally Ho Drive, Vernon Hills, IL 60061

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...”

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1AE_NV6Rnn1dQ5RWrDwSI9npuQbsGI9_q?usp=sharing

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

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Monica Para

Complete this evaluation to see the results from the rest of the community

The community is currently evaluating this idea.

103 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Suraj Bokil
Team

What a fantastic idea! I think making hackathons more accessible is critical to help students get comfortable with CS. I remember when I competed in my first hackathon, I developed a great interest in cs. Overall, a great job!

Photo of Future King
Team

CS is the future!!! Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to learn computer science. Good luck to you!

Photo of Jason Nieh
Team

I love the beginner friendly approach of this initiative. No experience necessary for the student and only upside. And talking about upside, the future is going to be CS. I think this is great!

Photo of Rebecca Perkins
Team

This is an amazing initiative that will hopefully take the world by storm! Best of luck!

Photo of Ashish Thakur
Team

This is fantastic!!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you, Ashish! Ad astra!

Photo of Audrey Lin
Team

Great initiative! :)

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Audrey! We can't wait to share what we've been up to - ad astra!

Photo of Derek Tjaden
Team

Some great ideas being put forward here! We really need to spread these hackathons to help those that don’t typically get involved with computer science fields. Significant change can really be put forth from this organization.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback - can't wait to share what we've been up to! Ad Astra!

Photo of Samuel Valenzuela
Team

You are doing such a great job, Justina! I remember when you were first starting out with HAX, and now it has flourished to become a strong organization. The gender inequality in the CS field is apparent and I'm excited to see what HAX will do to close the gap and bring more diversity!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Samuel! It's been an incredible pleasure working alongside Justina to make this organization a reality :) We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Viraj Mehta
Team

HAX is an absolutely fantastic organisation under the expert guidance of Justina Chua and Michael Cao trying to promote Computer Science educational outreach through the unique medium of hackathons, reaching out to schools, universities and other destinations near you!! I am so thankful to be able to be part of the dedicated and hardworking team and I want to thank the entire team for the fruition of a great soon to be non-profit!!! Everyone on the team have a lot of experience in STEM and CS education, and to whoever is reading this or evaluating HAX, I would really really urge you to join us and show your support. Massive congratulations on all the great work in the past and I really look forward to future international endeavours with one of the best teams I have ever worked with!!!! Please do applaud and evaluate HAX, and share with friends!!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Viraj! It's been an incredible pleasure working alongside you as well :) Can't wait to see where we go in the future! AD ASTRA!

Photo of zanthis .
Team

What a wonderful initiative by a wonderful person!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, zanthis! We wouldn't be where we are today without the incredible Justina! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Evan Nishi
Team

Nice work guys!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Evan! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Naman Mehndiratta
Team

Bridging the gender gap in the CS community will play a significant part in our future as a species. I'm excited to see HAX in action over the next few years.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Naman! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Andy Ng
Team

Amazing to see the initiatives HAX has and its mission for inclusion! Looking forward see it’s potential flourish and grow and what impacts that makes on the CS community in the future!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Andy! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Forrest Leung
Team

Can wait to see HAX’s impact on CS enrollment, as well as what they have to offer for these new organizers!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Forrest, thank you for the feedback! It's been a pleasure to work alongside you to make this organization a reality. Can't wait to see where we go in the future! Ad astra!

Photo of Edmund Zheng
Team

bro hax kinda slaps ����

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

You kinda slap :) thanks for the feedback, Edmund!

Photo of Scott Blender
Team

Justina and the team at HAX are the most dedicated and inspiring people I know. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for HAX.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Scott! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of AB
Team

HAX’s mission truly encapsulates the idea of giving. An idea which definitely represents a core element in the world of computer science. Justina is the most qualified person I can think of to tackle leading this idea, and I can’t wait to see the great things she does with it!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, AB! I can say that it's been nothing but a pleasure and an honor to work alongside Justina, and it's an incredible privilege to be able to be her partner-in-crime on this organization. We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Sarah Pell
Team

HAX's mission of inclusivity within the computer science community is amazing! I can't wait to see all the amazing things you guys will be doing!!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Sarah! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Skyler Basco
Team

Fantastic initiative! HAX’s mission should definitely be more exposed to within the realm of computer science. Great work!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Skyler! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Brian Jairam
Team

Very interested to see what's next for HAX...
Keep up the good work!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Brian! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Peter Cao
Team

I love the idea and mission of HAX Organization , and I'm looking forward to going to HAX hackathons in the future!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Peter, it's been nothing but an honor to work with you. Can't wait to see where we take things in the future! Ad astra!

Photo of Andrew Forrest
Team

Justina is an amazing visionary and this is an awesome organization!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Andrew! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Bush Printzle
Team

Very interesting stuff here, I am excited for the future of this organization!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Bush! We can't wait to share what we've been working on lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Isabel Abonitalla
Team

I am so glad to have been a part of this team since the beginning. I am proud to see how far we've come and can't wait to see where we'll head from here. Thank you all for your support!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

It's been nothing but an absolute pleasure to have you on the team - you've been the woman behind the curtain making everything happen, and your work along with the other ops directors' doesn't get recognized enough! I can't wait to see where we'll go - ad astra!

Photo of Chris Tan
Team

Talking with Justina and the other directors gave me a better idea of the level of passion and dedication these people put into HAX and its message - one of inclusivity and empowerment in tech, for tech.

Excited to see what the team at HAX has in store.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Chris! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Seran Kwon
Team

This isn't only an initiative to bridge the problem with gender inequality in computer science, it's about fostering the next leaders through the mentorship of those who have already succeeded in the field. Justina is an extremely qualified and passionate leader; she is someone who genuinely cares and wants to improve the community through HAX. Thank you for pioneering change in this world, Justina. You are a true changemaker.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Seran! I can say that it's been an absolute pleasure and honor to work alongside Justina to build HAX up through the last few months -- she's an absolute visionary and a true changemaker. We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Snigdha Roy
Team

Amazing work! Can't wait to see how HAX grows, more to come!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Snigdha! It's been an immense pleasure to work with you! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Kevin C
Team

This is a very incredible organization! Since hackathons have just begun growing in popularity in the past few years, there has been a lack of assistance for new hackathons, which HAX is trying to fix through their amazing services!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Kevin! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Jero Wang
Team

Excited to see how HAX will make computer science accessible to everyone, and looking forward to attend one of its hackathons!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Jero! It's been nothing but an absolute pleasure to work with you! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Boom Bap
Team

This is really cool! I can tell that you're very passionate about tech and making a difference! I'm pretty inspired by you and hope that you progress further in your journey!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, Boom! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of James Kerrane
Team

This is such an important initiative! Closing the gender-gap in tech is something that we should all care about. Thank you for your work so far! Excited to see where this goes! ��

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the amazing feedback, James! We can't wait to share what we've been up to lately :) Ad astra!

Photo of Dylan
Team

A fantastic organization with a clear vision and is already making a difference nationwide! Excited to see where this goes and how much change this can have in diversity in tech!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Hey Dylan, thanks for the great review! We're excited to see where we're headed, and can't wait to show off some of the stuff we've been up to lately! Ad astra!

Photo of Sophia
Team

Gender inequality is definitely a problem in this field. Love that this problem is being addressed with the younger generations!! Amazing idea!!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Hey Sophia, thanks for the great review! Our mission is one of greater inclusivity and equality, and we hope that gender inequality will be tackled as an issue soon! Ad astra!

Photo of Alex
Team

As someone who is interested in Computer Science, I am very happy to see such an initiative. Looking forward to hearing more about it in the future!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you for the feedback, Alex! Can't wait to let everyone know what we've been working on :) Ad astra!

Photo of Alex Tantasook
Team

This is so amazing! The gender, racial, and socioeconomic gaps in technology are so important to bridge. I've loved seeing what HAX has accomplished and I can't wait to see what they'll do next!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Hey Alex, thank you so much for your positive feedback! We're overjoyed to see that we're making an impact and can't wait to tell you all what we've got in the works soon :) Ad astra!

Photo of Shayna Weinstein
Team

This is by far the best idea I've seen on this site. I was a girl who was always alone in STEM and I think it's amazing that this is based off of common experiences that many girls experience! Thank you for this amazing idea!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thank you Shayna! Our mission is to strive towards inclusiveness and equality within STEM fields, and we love to see that we're making a positive impact :) Hopefully, no girls will ever have to be alone in STEM ever again when we're done! Ad astra :)

Photo of Samantha
Team

A couple of friends and I founded AIHacks (SoCal's 1st 24hr, high school, all-female hackathon, aihacks.org) which turned out to be a success! However, this whole time we had HAXs right next to us, supporting me as Operations Director: we had an informative meeting to guide me to the right direction and bring up problems/ideas I have not thought of, plus whenever I had a quick question HAX always replied in a timely, supportive manner. On behalf of AIHacks, thank you for helping us out :)

(Additionally, their commitment toward being inclusive by helping female students ALONG with POC and low-income students is something worth applauding for!!)

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Hey Samantha! We really loved working with you, and can't wait to see if we can work with you again on your amazing event next year as well! We loved your initiative and mission and are overjoyed to see your event was a success :) Ad Astra!

Photo of Alexandra Slabakis
Team

Hi Justina,
Cool idea - I would love to host a hackathon at my school but have absolutely no idea where to start. I think the idea of a hackathon blueprint is brilliant. btw I am also a BuiltbyGirls member in NYC : )
Alexandra

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Hi Alexandra! Thank you so much for your interest -- we'd love to help you! Please fill out https://bit.ly/haxinterest if you're interested in organizing an event and reach out to us via email at team@haxorg.io if you have any questions! :)

Photo of vroom
Team

The HAX team is one of the most dedicated group of individuals I know. Their goal is highly admirable, and I look forward to hearing about all that they are able to do in the future!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thanks for your feedback, and we can't wait to showcase all the great things we've been up to!

Photo of Eric
Team

This sounds like a great way for people who don't have any knowledge of computer science to begin learning. I especially love the fact that you are pushing to include minorities in your program. I feel like there would be a slight issue with having 1 on 1 tutoring once you grow to a larger organization, but overall this is an excellent idea.

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Scaling is definitely something we are learning to adapt to - we are open to adopting and evolving with our organization's growth! Thank you for the feedback!

Photo of selena wong
Team

beyond glad to be part of such an empowering organization. can't wait to see what will happen in the future :)

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

Thanks, Selena! It's been great working with you to make your event a reality!

Photo of Michael Cao
Team

HAX is an organization that is doing amazing work, and I can't wait to see where it goes next! I've loved working with Justina Chua and the team - the entire team inspires me in the work I do.

Photo of Michael
Team

Having at least a basic knowledge of programming is going to practically be a requirement going into the future, and I think that beginner-friendly hackathons are a great way to ensure that the students learn and retain the skill. The clear objective of this is to lessen social barriers of entry into CS, which I feel is very beneficial to us, as the demand for programmers keeps increasing, while supply is not increasing at the same rate; more self-inspired, skilled developers are needed. Justina and the others running this organization are among the most genuinely passionate people I've meet in CS, and they sincerely want to spread and help people understand their passions. To whoever is evaluating this idea, I urge you to consider supporting it.

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you, Michael! I admire your work ethic and passion for pursing CS and engineering. We sincerely appreciate your comment!

Photo of Kathryn
Team

I've known about the great work HAX does for months now, and I can't wait to see where it goes in the future. HAX is definitely a nonprofit to watch out for, and I absolutely love its mission of making hackathons accessible for everyone.

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you, Kathryn! You inspire me with your contributions in AGORA and how you lead others in bringing more connectivity to our world. Best of luck in T-Mobile!

Photo of Tiffany Dinh
Team

From my first interaction with Justina, I knew that she was different. Seeing how she has grown and taken initiative towards her passion and what she believes in, I am so happy and cannot wait to see how much HAX and her continue to grow.

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you, Tiffany Dinh ! You've always been supporting me in all that I do, and for that, I'm so grateful. Best of luck in college -- I know you'll kill it!

Photo of Athena Liu
Team

Great job Justina! You are a very passionate individual who sets a perfect role model for her peers! The gender gap in the tech industry is definitely a problem that should be addressed. HAX has done a splendid job in doing so and I wish you all the best in the future!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thanks Athena Liu ! We're really working to bridge the gender gap in technology -- but there are more gaps that have to be filled, too! Let's uplift each other and bring equity to the tech industry.

Photo of Raf
Team

Gender Inequality is most definitely a concerning problem in CS, and I cant think of a more qualified individual to tackle this other than Justina. She is by far the most passionate and determined person I have come across and so I have no doubt that HAX will come to play a significant role in the effort for greater accessibility in to a computer science education through its hackathons. It is truly an amazing cause and I wish you all the best !

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you so much for your support, Raf ! It means a lot for HAX and our team.

Photo of Siddarth Sridhar
Team

Ad Astra!!!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

AD ASTRA! Happy to work with you to collaborate on bringing computer science education to TILE!

Photo of Amelia Choi
Team

Kudos to HAX for championing such a meaningful and very important initiative/program!! So proud of all these young leaders in dedicating their time and skills to help bring CS and tech more accessible to all. I’m particularly impressed with your vision, passion, energy, strategy and approach!! Very well-done!! Keep up the good work and wish you great success!! Go Go HAX!!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thanks Amelia Choi ! We're working hard and will be unveiling new updates on our social media soon -- ad astra!

Photo of Jacky Zhao
Team

Amazing initiative to address such an important problem. With hackathons being such a major driver of new people to the industry, it's important to focus on where it all starts. Kudos to Justina and the team for taking this on! I'm excited to see where this will go in the future.

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thanks Jacky Zhao , the biggest hackathon enthusiast I know! So excited you've wanted to get involved by becoming a mentor!

Photo of David Sieg
Team

It's a great thing Justina & Co. are doing for underrepresented groups, and it's even better they're so passionate about it! This organization has a very bright future and deserves every bit of support it can get! It's a fantastic cause and has the perfect people tending to it!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you for your kind words, David! Ad astra!

Photo of Aiden Kwen
Team

Justina is genuinely one of the most passionate people I’ve seen amongst those who participate in HS CS, and HAX is a really important organization I hope can extend its reach. Everyone here really loves what they do; please help get this project off the ground!!!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you Aiden Kwen ! Your contributions to and passion for AGORA never fail to inspire me.

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

I love HAX so much! Justina is truly passionate about her work, and that is shown through the success that HAX has had in such a short period of time. I personally know Justina, and have attented multiple entrepreneurial programs with her. I am always astounded by her hard work, her honesty, and her ability to be a leader that critiques in a meaningful and kind way. She truly wants the best for everyone, and it's obvious by the passion she puts into her organization HAX!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thank you Salma Kamni ! Your words are so kind, and I'm so grateful to have hung out with you at Stanford She++, NCWIT, GirlCon, and Windy City Hacks. Looking forward to the work Converge does!

Photo of Laurel Prime
Team

I love what HAX is doing to make CS education more accessible for everyone!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

Thanks Laurel Prime ! I'm so excited to see what AGORA will accomplish in the future. It was amazing working with Kat on my interview!