April 12, 2011 13:00 ET Launches "Hacking Education: A Contest for Developers and Data Crunchers" to Inspire Discovery that Improves Education

Stephen Colbert to Present Grand Prize; Arianna Huffington, Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp and Fred Wilson to Serve as Judges

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Apr 12, 2011) -, the online education charity and one of Fast Company's "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World," today unveiled Hacking Education: A Contest for Developers and Data Crunchers. For the first time, the organization is making its extensive data public to inspire contestants. Collected over 10 years, the data includes 300,000 classroom project requests from 165,000 teachers across the country, and more than 1,000,000 project contributions. Contestants will develop apps or conduct analyses to be evaluated against a central question: Which app or analysis has the greatest potential to engage the public and impact education?

The Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, Teach for America's Wendy Kopp, News Corp's Joel Klein, and venture capitalist Fred Wilson will judge the entries, due no later than June 30. Stephen Colbert will present the grand prize to the winner.

"We're inviting web developers, researchers, and data crunchers to mine, mash up, and build applications using our data," said Founder and CEO Charles Best. "The goal is to make discoveries and create experiences that will improve K-12 public education in our country. We believe that the features we've built into represent just a fraction of what's possible, so we can't wait to see what the contestants come up with!"

The data, collected by since its inception in 2000, has the potential to reveal new findings about classroom needs in America. The new information to be exposed includes everything from search queries performed by donors; to the subject area and resource type of each project; to teacher affiliation; to the latitude, longitude, and poverty rate of each school. Researchers can use the data to conduct any number of revealing analyses.

The API, meanwhile, enables developers and programmers to build apps that reinvent the experience by interacting directly with the site's live projects.'s robust API has already been used to power cause marketing campaigns by Chevron, SONIC Drive-In, Bing, NBC Universal, and others.

Three suggestions for the Analysis category set of challenges will get contestants thinking:


1. Identify a trend in the resources requested at that could change a city or state education budget. For example, "Elementary school teachers in Chicago are submitting 40% more projects requesting microscopes."

2. Show a pattern in classroom projects that could impact how and what we teach children. I.e., "These are the 10 novels most requested by high school teachers in low-income communities."

3. Rank what people care about most when supporting classrooms in need. A catchy project title? High poverty rate? Field trips rather than technology?


1. Reinvent the classroom project discovery experience to provide more serendipity, personalization, or casual exploration.

2. Create the first ever hyper-local giving app for mobile phones. I.e., an app which shows you classroom project requests from schools that are close to your current location. Or create a mobile app which uses a pivot other than geography to present classroom projects!

3. Invent a way for people to engage with classroom project requests before they're ready to open their wallets. About 2% of visitors to make a donation. What can the other 98% of visitors do for fun?

Participants can submit contest entries in the categories of PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, .NET, and data analyses to be judged by respected experts from those communities. Interested contestants should visit for more information and participation instructions.

Building on's highly successful model, Hacking Education: A Contest for Developers and Data Crunchers was created to enable further innovation in public education. To date, 165,000 teachers at 43,000 public and charter schools (40% of all the public schools in America) have used to secure funding for $80 million in books, art supplies, technology, and other resources that their students need to learn.

On, individuals can contribute any dollar amount to classroom projects of their choosing. Once a project is fully funded, purchases the requested materials and sends them directly to the classroom. All donors receive photos of the project taking place, a thank-you letter from the teacher, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. Donors who fund more than $100 also receive hand-written thank-you letters from the students.

Founded in 2000, is a nonprofit website where public school teachers describe specific educational projects for their students, and donors can choose the projects they want to support. After completing a project, the donor hears back from the classroom they supported in the form of photographs and student thank-you letters.

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