Last night I met up with my fellow Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) organisers to go through the RHoK 2017 Winter Hack change maker applications. This is one of my favourite parts of the process; deciding who we can support and how we can put together a compelling case that will entice hackers.
Each year the application process opens in February or March. It's a mix of change makers approaching the organisation, and us going out and approaching suitable candidates. A lot of the magic happens by word of mouth, and more often than not referrals come from previous charities, non-profits, and social enterprises that have already worked with RHoK.
It can be tricky finding the right fit. Ideally we look for small organisations that are fairly well established, but lack dedicated IT support, or are experiencing problems where technology or perhaps even just a review of business processes, can positively impact their work. Our application process is simple. We ask prospective change makers to give an overview of their work – their mission or vision statement, how they currently operate, and to describe the challenges they are trying to solve. Our Steering and Organising Committees meet to evaluate projects, and if successful we start engaging closely with the change makers.
We've had a number of excellent applications for the Melbourne Winter Hackathon. Seven of them really stood out and I'm really looking forward to working with them as a RHoK buddy and tech lead.
I'm super excited to tell you we'll be working with Free to, a social enterprise that created the free to feed project. Free to feed is a pop-up cooking school with all classes run by refugees and asylum seekers. It's brilliant. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of participating in Hamed's cooking class – Persian vegetarian favourites – and I remember at the time thinking, RHoK could really help these guys with a few things. Aside from the seriously good food, Free to Feed's core values really resonated with the RHoK organising committee. Most importantly, they are trying overcome some challenges that RHoK can actually help them with. They are a rapidly growing enterprise, managed by a very small team and they have a number of logistical issues that make it difficult to expand. At the end of the day (or rather the hack weekend), we want to be able to deliver useful solutions to our change makers, that either help their organisations to function better, or place them in a better position to secure funding, additional resources, or whatever else it is that they need.
This year we will also be working with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), specifically ASRC Cleaning, which provides much needed employment to people seeking asylum by providing professional, reliable cleaning services to ASRC's commercial and domestic clients. ASRC Cleaning began a little over three years ago and is the second social enterprise established by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). A lot of their business and IT processes are very manual, and hopefully RHoK can come up with a creative solution to help the business work more efficiently.
We have several more change makers that we are working with, but I'll leave those for a later post :)