Launchpad 2019 logo

Launchpad is our annual month-long hackathon where we look to bring together community stakeholders, domain experts (eg non-profit leaders, city officials, researchers, etc) with our technical community to kickstart cross-functional teams working to solve civic challenges with data, design, and technology.

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2018 Friday Night Brainstorming
2018 Friday Night Brainstorming

Why the name Launchpad?

Calling our events hackathons doesn’t quite reflect what we do. Hackathon has long been a contentious term. For people within the tech space, hacking is a familiar concept that doesn’t necessarily mean malicious intent. People outside of the tech bubble may only know hacking from news headlines reporting cyber attacks.

A rushed, half-working demo, where the team didn’t get a chance to receive feedback on their idea isn’t our idea of success. Our events include coding, but aren’t limited to it. Civic tech projects bring together a diversity of skill sets to solve hard problems. Code for Philly Launchpad’s are month-long, project-launching “sprint” meant to start new civic tech projects or deliver a meaningful deliverable for existing projects. Launchpad should be the starting point for projects and project teams to sustainably continue working well beyond the month.

Why a month?

We’re a city of action. Philly is eager to drive change, but tackling complex civic challenges takes more than ~12 hours of coding. Code for Philly’s Launchpad captures the enthusiasm of a typical weekend hackathon, while providing a better framework to tackle those complex civic needs that really require more time to understand the problem, more collaboration with stakeholders, and more participation from a diverse set of volunteers.

Previous hackathons had produced some cool tools, maybe a spiffy website or two. Cool for some tech communities, but Code for Philly members want to make more of an impact. With our month-long Launchpad, we see blooming relationships between project teams, city offices, and community organizations — and a more comprehensive understanding of the data and problem at hand.

This will be our fourth year using the month-long format. We’re always learning and experimenting with changes that deliver a better experience for all participants. We’re humbled when we see other organizations adopt the same model, including inspiring some international civic hackers.

Also, practically speaking -

  • It lets you participate even if you can’t attend on opening Saturday. Join a project team during the month. Introduce yourself virtually, then join them at one of our numerous hack nights and workshops throughout the month.

  • You’ll have much more time to prepare for your Demo night appearance. You can actually prepare what you want to say and you won’t feel rushed to only demo on your local machine.

For more, check out a video made by Azavea during our 2017 Launchpad focused on civic engagement.

Tell me more about… Friday Brainstorming Night

Friday night is a Designed to help you select project ideas, meet other volunteers — coders and non-coders alike — and dive into the nitty gritty of getting your project off the ground.

At the event you’ll…

  • be inspired
  • share feedback on posted project ideas
  • add your own project ideas
  • enjoy light snacks and beverages
  • meet other participants, community leaders, and city officials

Saturday - Opening Work Day

2017 Opening Saturday

In the morning you’ll:

  • eat breakfast
  • listen to opening remarks
  • select a project
  • form teams
  • Participate in exercises that help align your team around what problem you’re looking to solve and how you’ll solve it

In the afternoon you’ll:

  • eat lunch
  • start working with your team
  • optionally listen into quick workshops on tools you can use for your project
  • hear from our Sys Admin team about how you can take advantage of our Civic Cloud for free hosting

In the evening you’ll,

  • eat dinner
  • setup / summarize how your team will collaborate during the month
  • participate in a team-to-team “standup” where you’ll hear what each team has accomplished and plans to do in the next week
  • depart whenever your team decides you’ve hit a good stopping point!

Intra-Month Events

Weekly events and workshops throughout the month will help you and your teammates stay accountable, access to relevant workshops, and support from cross-functional mentors that can help you solve any technical issues you run into.

Stay tuned for our Code for Philly page for the latest schedule!

Demo Night

2018 Demo Presentaiton

It all wraps up on Demo Night, where your team will present on your experiences and progress on your project. Food and celebratory drink will be provided — you’ll have definitely earned it! Plus you’ll get your official Launchpad t-shirt.

  • Each team has 5 minutes to share what problem they focused on, why it matters, and demo their solution.
  • A group of judges will ask questions and give feedback.
  • The audience will vote towards their favorite project - the “JAWN Award”.

About Launchpad 2019

Code for Philly’s Launchpad 2019 is a month-long community initiative to launch public, open source, and multi-disciplinary projects. Evolving from weekend hackathons, Launchpad provides the resources, setting, and framework for diverse teams and individuals who want to make a positive impact. We welcome anyone who wants to engage with fellow citizens and local government. The best teams bring together a diverse set of talents and experiences.

A full description of Launchpad, including a schedule of events, sponsors, and eventually a project list, can be found here.

About Code for Philly

All Code for Philly projects must be public servicing and not-for-profit. In addition, projects must use an open source or creative commons license - so that other volunteers can benefit from your efforts and keep the torch of civic engagement alive.

New to Code for Philly? Find out more about us here:

All attendees are expected to follow the Code for Philly Code of Conduct; which can be found at the following link: