In Philadelphia, we like to think of our city as “The City of Firsts.” The first plans of defiance against the British were at Carpenters’ Hall. The American Anti-Slavery Society held its first meeting at Arch Street Meeting House. We had the first independent African American church, the first public library, and the first professional school for women. But behind all of these “firsts” was the greater good for their community. The citizens saw opportunities to address and correct problems in their city—often without asking permission. When you don’t sit around and wait for someone else to fix the problem, you’re bound to be the first.

Our upcoming Civic Engagement Launchpad (#CELaunchpad) will continue this proud Philadelphia tradition. We love our city and want it to shine its brightest, but sometimes even the best silver needs polish.

We the technologists of Philadelphia, in order to form a more perfect Philadelphia, will come together to use data and technology to address the problems that face all Philadelphians.


Who is Code for Philly?

Code for Philly is an open comunity group that helps people in Philly work together to solve problems and improve life through technology. Some of us are programmers or designers, others are makers or problem solvers, a handful are urbanists or journalists, but everyone is a civic hacker. We believe in the power of knowledge — orchestrated by code — to drive transformative and sustainable change in cities. We don’t wait for permission to improve our city because it’s our home to improve. Inclusive, collaborative, and creative, our members develop diverse projects that take on some of Philly’s most pressing issues.

What is a hackathon?

Simply put, and as the name might suggest, hackathons are hacking marathons. This means that we get together for a weekend to create new projects from the ideation stage to functional (or at least semi-functional) prototypes. It’s also a great excuse to eat food, drink lots of coffee, hang out with friends and meet new people. Friday night begins with a happy hour to socialize a bit and come up with a few project ideas based on problem statements and/or available data. Project ideas are posted along the walls and every attendee gets a number of “upvote” stickers to stick to their favorites as they mingle through the projects. On Saturday morning we hit the ground running with teams self-selecting around favored project ideas from the night before. Teams then have until Sunday afternoon to prototype a solution and put together a brief presentation to present to a panel of expert judges. The judges challenge teams to defend their ideas and award available prizes to the most fitting projects, but everyone is encouraged to continue their civic hacking efforts at the weekly Code for Philly hack nights.

Who should come/what if I’m not a coder?

If you’re passionate about Philadelphia, if you think you can help make it more democratic, and if you believe in the power of code to facilitate change, you should come! Civic hacking and hackathons benefit from participants of all types of backgrounds and levels of expertise. Technologists with advanced, professional skills can take the lead in project design and development. Mid-level members take on tasks that support their learning and contribute to project advancement. Even those with no technological skills at all can play vital roles in researching, designing, and launching projects. Subject-matter experts are essential to the quality, sustainability, and scalability of a project. Content experts and partner organizations contribute extensive, nuanced knowledge of the subject matter; they help guide and structure a project so that it tackles key needs, creating the greatest possible impact.

As with all our events, we require attendees to follow our Code of Conduct.