Civic Tech, ReEntry, and Collaboration

Date(s) - 05/29/18
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Hosted by
Chi Hack Night

Chi Hack Night – Civic Tech, ReEntry, and Collaboration

Chi Hack Night

May 29, 6pm

One of the major injustices faced by our incarcerated population is not realized until after they have served their sentencing and are released back into society. During this reentry process, there is a major lack of resources and support that create extreme barriers to reacclimating into society.

Through a process of learning, listening, and looking for partnership opportunities, our Chi Hack Night group “Access to Justice” teamed up with the Education Justice Project (EJP) which releases an annual comprehensive “reentry guide” to aid reentering citizens.

Access to Justice’s goal was to work with EJP, digitize the guide, and build it into a searchable, filterable, easy-to-use website of resources so anyone with access to internet can use it. The result is Illinois Re-Entry Resources.

Eric van Zanten, developer at DataMade and Joseph Smalzer, Account Executive at Dell & volunteer at the Chicago juvenile detention center, will walk us through their process in researching, designing and building the app and share what they learned along the way.

The Chi Hack Night is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech and tools to create, support, or serve public good.

Join us every Tuesday from 6-10pm on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart to hear from interesting speakers, learn from each other and work on civic projects. Non-techies are very welcome!

What happens at a hack night?

Every week, we have a 10-15 minute presentation by a government agency, non-profit, company or group who’ve made use of open data or built a civic technology application. The goal of these presentations is to showcase the different uses and opportunities, as well as challenges and successes in the civic technology movement.

After the presentation, the format of the event is similar to that of a hackathon where breakout groups self-organize to work on civic apps, discuss policies and their implications, learn technical skills and network with a welcoming and diverse community at the intersection of technology and government.

But I’m not a techie!

That’s ok! We encourage non-technical folks to pair up and learn from our community’s designers and developers. We’ve seen time and time again, he best civic projects come from teams with a diverse background.

Remember, there’s much more to making a great app than just coding.


Derek Eder, Christopher Whitaker and Juan-Pablo Velez

The Chi Hack Night is organized by Derek Eder, Christopher Whitaker and (formerly) Juan-Pablo Velez. You can contact them here.

Every month, we hold an open Leadership Council Meeting to discuss new ideas and ways to make the hack night better. Anyone is welcome to join!