Vicki White, Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Date(s) - 03/20/18
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Hosted by
Chi Hack Night

Chi Hack Night – Vicki White, Chicago Books to Women in Prison

Chi Hack Night

March 20, 6pm

This week, we welcome Vicki White, President of Chicago Books to Women in Prison, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that distributes paperback books to incarcerated women. For more than 15 years they’ve provided a critical intervention into an oppressive system by offering the self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides.

Volunteers meet every weekend to fulfill requests from women in state and Federal prisons nationwide, as well as in Cook County Jail. They match requests to an inventory of thousands of donated paperback books. Every woman receives three carefully chosen books or a blank journal—free of charge, hers to keep, no strings attached—along with a personal note. In 2017 the group mailed 4,690 packages of books and blank journals—20% more than in 2016. Vicki will discuss how and why they do this work.

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!