Students Create Innovative Solutions for Nonprofit Partners in Berkeley Builds Designathon

Berkeley Builds Designathon—the first interdisciplinary social innovation designathon on campus—completed with roaring success on April 30th – May 1st, 2016. Hosted by Project RISHI, Hackers @ Berkeley, ASUC, and EnableTech, the Berkeley Builds event sought to accomplish something different from the usual corporate innovation contest: this event brought together students with backgrounds and majors beyond engineering, and these multidisciplinary teams designed solutions with lasting impact for local nonprofits.

The students proposed solutions for four main nonprofit partners: Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier for Fair Trade products; Roots and Rebound, a center for combating mass incarceration; Easy Does It, an agency for emergency services for people with disabilities; and Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR), the nation’s first rape crisis center.

The inspiration for this competition arose from multiple sources. Notably, the winners of hackathons often file away their solution without ever seeing it make a real impact upon the corporations they design for. In addition, students from non-technical backgrounds such as humanities and social sciences typically do not participate in these competitions. Berkeley Builds sought to solve this by creating a valuable and intensive learning opportunity to engage more of Cal’s talented students.

The winning teams designed these innovative solutions for our nonprofit partners:

  • Fair Trade USA: Belinda Liu, Himanshu Caplash, and Wendy Liu designed a web tool that would improve analytics and provide data visualization for producers.
  • Root and Rebound: Tom Ding, Yousef Joseph, and Derek Wong redesigned the website to increase engagement by youth and raise more awareness.
  • Easy Does It: Michelle Chan and Alejandro Castillo developed a mobile app for fast and streamlined access for clients and attendants.
  • Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR): Sabrina Shie, Alexis Tran, Jianing Wang, and Quang Luong designed a chat app that would allow counselors to better manage emergencies anonymously.

We want to thank Ajay Remesh, Jennifer Hill, Brian Pham, and Alisa Cordesius for teaching workshops to our designathon teams.

We also thank our sponsors: Intuit, Indiegogo, PriceSpider, The Kapor Center for Social Impact, Acumen, Teach for America, Kiva, Berkeley Startup Cluster, CITRIS, Sherpa Capital, and Fluxx for providing the resources to make this designathon possible.

View a photo gallery from the weekend designathon event: