In an organizational first, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) teamed up with tech giants Microsoft and HP, among other leaders in the tech space, for the inaugural JDC Social Impact Hackathon to benefit vulnerable Israelis. Bringing together 100 programmers and designers, as well as 30 mentors from 7 global tech companies, the Social Impact Hackathon leveraged state-of-the-art technology to create apps and programs to solve challenges faced by at-risk Israeli populations like the elderly and people with disabilities. While over 95 social impact ideas were originally gathered, 21 were chosen to be developed, with three receiving top prizes. Participants worked in teams on tech solutions evaluated by judges from JDC, the tech industry, and the NGO sector. JNext -; a joint project of the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and the Municipality of Jerusalem, which aim is to strengthen and empower the technological ecosystem in Jerusalem -; was another key partner for the event. ‘One of the hallmarks of JDC’s work in Israel is channeling cutting-edge innovation in a variety of sectors, like the booming tech industry, to ensure a better life for Israelis whose needs aren’t met by established social services,’ said JDC CEO David M. Schizer. ‘We are privileged to join with leaders in this field, and our government of Israel partners, to harness the enthusiasm of participants and make Israel a better place for those living on the edges of society.’
First prize went to Connected Community, an app for managers of senior communities to efficiently follow-up with clients, prioritize goals, and manage emergencies. Second prize went to Yad2All, a platform for people with disabilities to access rental apartments via the Web. And third prize went to IRemember, an app to help the elderly track daily medication schedules and family members’ birthdays. The winning groups will continue the development process via the new social entrepreneurship hub powered by JDC-Israel and the National Insurance Institute, with the potential to be adopted by JDC on a larger scale as well. ‘We saw some great ventures that hold potential for serving populations in need and can truly become valuable tools for JDC professionals in their work at the Social Impact Hackathon. The atmosphere enabled everyone to engage in open, non-formal efforts to identify real life needs and find matching solutions that can solve their target population’s needs,’ said Elion Tirosh, an early stage investor, tech entrepreneur, and JDC Board member, who served as a judge. Additional judges of the Social Impact Hackathon included: Professor Mimi Ajzenstadt, dean of the Paul Berwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Gali Konky, vice president of product management at LivePerson; Yossi Tamir, director general of JDC-Israel; Professor Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central; Ilan Cohn, Ph.D, patent attorney, and senior partner at Reinhold Cohn and Partners Patent Attorney; and Dr. Michal Tsur, co-founder, president and CMO at Kaltura. ‘Israel is considered to be the start-up nation as well as one of the countries with the worst inequality in the OECD. Combining JDC-Israel’s social innovation with Israel’s brightest technological minds is what JDC’s Social Impact Hackathon was all about. We must incorporate cutting-edge technology into the planning and development of social services, whether in Israel or worldwide. We achieved some great solutions during this Hackathon-some of which we might even implement on a large scale. There are tons of new technologies out there and it’s up to us to make better use of them for Israel’s most vulnerable populations,’ said Yossi Tamir, director general of JDC-Israel. JDC-Israel partners with the government of Israel and the NGO sector to create innovative strategies, solutions, and pilot programs to combat the country’s biggest social challenges and empower Israel’s most vulnerable groups.