116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A group of software developers — called Devs Do Good — is looking for students in Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa to participate in a daylong “hackathon” in August.
The high school students get hands-on experience in computer programming while helping nonprofits with their technology needs.
The event is Aug. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids. Participants can sign up at devsdogoodhack2022.eventbrite.com and will need to bring their own laptops.
Volunteers will create a system allowing Can Play — a nonprofit based in Des Moines that provides adaptive and no-cost recreation programs to underserved youth — to track volunteers, volunteer hours, contact information and the children and families in the program.
Can Play also has programs for special needs youth and adults in the Cedar Rapids, North Liberty and Iowa City area.
Valley High School student Connor Fogarty, 17, of West Des Moines, started Devs Do Good — “Dev” stands for developers — a couple of years ago to provide technical support to nonprofit organizations.
He was inspired by dsmHack, a nonprofit in Des Moines, that builds software. But it’s for adult professionals. Fogarty wanted a similar group for high school and college student volunteers.
Devs Do Good received an $8,000 Microsoft Community Empowerment Grant last summer, which it is using to host in-person hackathons and social coding events that bring together computer programmers and other interested people to improve or build new software programs.
Devs Do Good hosted two in-person hackathons in November 2021 and January of this year, with about 30 volunteers per event.
They completed projects for several nonprofits, including Chrysalis GirlPower in Des Moines, a healthy relationship education program for girls that aimes to end violence toward girls.
Student volunteers “style” the nonprofit’s webpages and build visuals, incorporating the nonprofit’s data, color scheme, logos and images.
Nonprofits can apply for the service at devsdogood.org.
“Your skill level or experience in technology shouldn’t be a barrier to entry,” Fogarty said. “I just ask that the participant be interested in programming.”
Dylan DeClerck, co-founder of Can Play, said it’s pretty cool to partner with high school students.
More than 500 volunteers, he said, work with Can Play, organizing soccer, baseball, flag football and other athletic practices and games for about 15,000 kids across Iowa.
The kids “learn a little about sports, but also about life, good character and being a part of a team,” DeClerck said.
Can Play provides meals, jerseys and transportation for families and children involved in their programs.
DeClerck is optimistic about the partnership with Devs Do Good.
“We’re not the best at technology,” he said. “My No. 1 rule for the printer in our office is don’t update it because I don’t know what to do if it gets updated.”
Joey Hage, senior software engineer at Dwolla in Des Moines, mentors students in the Devs Do Good program. He works with them if they need technical assistance or have questions and oversees the project.
Programming, he said, is a “sought-after talent,” that can lend itself to a career one day.
“It was cool not only to see how much these students learned in a day but also see them interact with professionals and executives at a nonprofit,” Hage said.
“Students felt empowered and asked great, detailed questions of the nonprofits they were working with to create the best product they can for them.”
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