VIP Newsletter 003


Sent Monday, March 16th, 2020.

Hi friends,

Zach here, founder of Hack Club.

The US has, or is about to have, 14 million high school students out of school---indefinitely. Many are self-quarantining. Many will feel isolated, and lose out on education. Others might become sick, or deal with grief and financial insecurity.

Hack Club is moving quickly. Our student community includes over 7,000 students in our Slack and 342 student clubs nationwide in nearly all 50 states. We represent the US's most technically-talented network of high schoolers, all oriented to lead in problem-solving in their communities.

Together, we will help our country get through this crisis. You are needed. After you read this email, please:

  • Send us ideas. Hack Club HQ is urgently meeting all week.
  • Make introductions to those with whom we could partner
  • Volunteer your skills (email me)

Hack Club's team in the last 4 days:

  • Last Friday, we announced a 3-day online COVID-19 hackathon on our 7k-member Slack ("Slackathon!"). Hack Club students from more than a dozen states teamed up in self-made online groups to ship projects using RedwoodJS, Ruby on Rails, Java, HTML & CSS, Google Docs, and more. We are sharing student projects below and on our Twitter.
  • We guided student leaders through canceling their hackathons. We issued detailed sample letters for talking to sponsors and modeled how to lead responsibly & safely.
  • We shared sources of reliable data on COVID-19, helping students identify trusted news sources; and modeled the problem-solving mindset of a hacker.
  • We prepared to increase our online challenges and published new curriculum.
  • We have (re-)hired NYU first-year and Hack Club alumni Lachlan Campbell this week (who made our website) and Hack Club alumni Matthew Stanciu last month, who recently graduated high school in Indiana.

Our upcoming steps:

Hack Club is preparing for worse-case scenarios, in which we must support sick students, and those dealing with deaths, economic desperation, hunger, isolation, and panic. Hack Club is prioritizing reaching these students with programming, support, and online community. We will also support educational partners by modeling successful online education.

  • We're on the phone with current and potential partners including GitHub, NASA, and Brookings and others to create projects/plans in anticipation of months of school closures.
  • Partnering with the Congressional App Challenge, in which HC students create apps to respond to community needs & U.S. Congress members amplify Hack Club students' best work.
  • Hack Club isn't just about coding---it's about young people using their creativity and agency to execute on big ideas. Hack Club HQ is creating more (online) hackathons, expanding our programming and activities so students can lead in problem-solving in their communities using their technical/online skills.
  • This week, Hack Club leadership will be discussing how to broaden our community to students most in need. This could look like helping guide students who want to start virtual club meetings to build legitimate local communities, but we're just starting to think of the possibilities here. Send us your ideas!
  • We will be discussing the possibility of making more emergency hires to build out projects/programming.

The world is more uncertain than ever right now, but it underscores the importance of Hack Club's mission of building a new generation of young people solving problems with the hacker mindset. We're pursuing every opportunity we can to help students, and we'd love your help wherever it makes sense. We've always been trying to build the world we want to live in, and through this unprecedented challenge, we can act together and emerge even stronger and more resilient.

You can check out what our students have built over the last 72 hours below. Thank you so much for being part of what we're doing.

- Zach Latta

COVID-19 Slackathon student projects:

  • Web app / Google Classroom tool for teachers to administer worksheets remotely
  • Database to monitor food and household supplies
  • In-game video calling in Minecraft
  • Slideshow for children explaining exponential growth through a fable
  • Interactive website visualization of the COVID-19 pandemic by country (and first open source production project using RedwoodJS).
View on GitHub