Announcing DREAMerHack! Youth “Hacking Alienation” to create Sanctuary Apps — Hackathon Academy

Qeyno Group
5 min readJan 31, 2018

As politicians are debating the future of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Hackathon Academy is launching our next pop-up school for high potential, low opportunity youth solving the world’s biggest problems — Hacking Alienation.

DREAMerHack launches April 27-29th, 2018. Registration is open at

Hacking Alienation: DREAMerHack — February 23rd — 25th, 2018

At Qeyno Group, we believe that if it isn’t erasing poverty, then it isn’t innovation. So when we launched Hackathon Academy — four years ago, we designed our three-day pop up school to usher in a generation of inclusive innovation as an app-building competition between youth. Since then, Hackathon Academy has challenged our Trailblazers (youth participants) to erase poverty by hacking isolation (Black Male Achievement/My Brother’s Keeper), hacking dehumanization (UbuntuHack), and now — trailblazers will be tackling issues such as forced deportation and displacement by hacking alienation.

To accomplish this, we worked with local organizations involved in topics related to the idea of “sanctuary”, organizations that work with immigrant groups and those faced with homelessness. We bridged these two issues because of the parallel of experiences. The DACA-recipient facing the threat of losing their home, their livelihood, and their family due to forced-deportation has something in common with the Puerto Rican resident who has lost their home and adjust to the “new normal” of living in a natural disaster zone. The Sonoma County fire victim faces that can never return to their neighborhood as those affected by gentrification are pushed away from their communities.

The idea of “sanctuary” is introduced to our young hackers as they pitch their ideas, and alongside their mentor — build a web or mobile app prototype and that creates sanctuary for those affected by:



Disaster Preparation, Rescue, and Recuperation


Black and Brown Communities unite to support DREAMers

For DREAMerHack, we placed a special emphasis on the conversation of DACA and making the experience accessible to the local Latino communities who are most affected by the threat of forced deportation and its destabilizing and demoralizing affects.

Latino Trailblazers (and Latino Mentors) have always been a part of the success of Hackathon Academy. The winning app for our third My Brother’s Keeper themed Hackathon Academy was prototyped by a team of mostly Oakland Latino students.

Hackathon Academy continues to be an experience that is inclusive of Latino students, but DREAMerHack allowed us to step out of our comfort zone to include more Latino Trailblazers, mentors, fellows and Jr. Fellows. We are also reintroducing a program format that we have not used since our first school — Supermentors. Supermentors are subject experts who pitch app suggestions based on the event’s theme to participants. It is up to our youth participants (Trailblazers) to decide if they would like to dedicate their immersive experience towards one of the suggestions. We will be inviting Latino-serving institutions and organizations to become Supermentors for the opening pitch night.

Our inspiration for DREAMerHack to foster collaboration Black and Brown communities and the organizations that serve them, is drawn from the impetus of what it means to be a hacker — in America: The Underground Railroad.

Hacking and the Underground Railroad

As the American Revolution (War) from 1775 to 1783 also known as the fought by General Washington and our U.S. founding fathers, the Underground Railroad was providing escape routes to freedoms for enslaved Africans who were not recognized as Americans.

The Underground Railroad believed that the fate and destiny of African people in bondage and slavery was better than what the laws of the land prohibited, and so they set out to circumvent and “hack” the system. The conductors of the Underground Railroad were the first hackers of the American legal system that allowed for Americans to own, abuse, mistreat, torture, and dehumanize people.

Hacking isn’t about firewalls and computer coding. Long before computers were created, hacking was about encryption, Morse code communication document forgery, and altering the parameters of a system that needed circumventing. Slavery was legal and our economy was based on it.

The conductors of the Underground Railroad were abolitionists who used a complex system to hack the prevalent injustice of the land just as Americans were fighting for their own freedom from the British empire. The tradition of hacking injustice is take up by every generation throughout history from the conductors of the Underground Railroad to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

America is a land of DREAMers, but some Americans are marginalized more than others for making their dreams come true.

America is a land of DREAMers, but some Americans are marginalized more than others for making their dreams come true.

That is why we have designed our event logo to feature Harriet Tubman as “Lady Liberty” lighting the way for a new generation of hackers. DREAMerHack is part of that tradition of preparing hackers to create sanctuary for those facing deportation, crisis, and displacement.

It has taken us nine months to prepare for the launch of DREAMerHack on April 27–29th, 2018, and as there are only a few weeks left we invite support from the community to make this event a historic achievement for inclusive innovation.



Qeyno Group

A think tank for inclusive innovation that closes the digital divide. Lifting barriers to human potential to meet the ultimate challenges of the future.