Greater Washington Urban League Auxiliary Holds Technology and Policy Summit; Experts and Elected Officials Offer Insights

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Thursday Network (TN), the young professional auxiliary of the Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL), recently held its Second Annual Hackathon as part of an ongoing conversation project on integrating civic engagement and technology. Recaps of the event can be found on social media at #UNHackTheVote2018, as well as continuing discussion on subjects discussed there. The event took place at Mapbox’s DC headquarters.

The summit, which was sponsored by Mapbox and the Greater Washington Urban League, encouraged local middle school and high school students to create solutions to the problems affecting their communities. Young people were taught how to take an issue, understand the elements of that issue, build a case for or against that issue using open source software, code, and open data, and then pitch their solution. Students also applied these skills to change the minds of their student body, school board, and government officials.

The event will feature experts from across the technology and public policy space. Some of the special experts delivering remarks and providing key insights into advocacy, the political process and policy making included:

  • The Honorable Peter C. Groff | former President of the Colorado State Senate & national education innovation leader
  • The Honorable Angela Angel | current Delegate for the 25th Legislative District in the Maryland General Assembly
  • Charles D. Ellison | Executive Producer/Host of “Reality Check” on WURD (Philadelphia) and Washington Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune

Last year’s hackathon focused exclusively on gerrymandering and voting rights. This year, Thursday Network Vice President and Hackathon event lead Amy Lee Walton shifted the focus toward empowering middle and high school students with technology.

Topics this year ranged from homelessness and gun violence to environmental justice and teacher quality. At the start of the Hackathon, students attended a 1.5 hour session led by these experts in the fields of Data & Code, Policy & Advocacy, and Pitch & Marketing.

Walton was inspired by President Barack Obama’s Computer Science for All initiative. She designed the event to unite Thursday Network’s youth empowerment and technical literacy goals.

“We want students to learn to leverage technology to make informed decisions about voting and also empower them to use tech to promote their own agendas in society,” says Walton.

#UNHackTheVote2018 will empower youth to be the change they want to see in their communities. The event is especially relevant in advance of the 2018 midterm elections because it aims to engage not just participating students but the entire community on civic issues that matter at the polls. Thursday Network will continue facilitating workshops and other projects educating the community about the intersection of technology and civic engagement.


Thursday Network (TN) is the young professionals’ auxiliary of the Greater Washington Urban League and the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Urban League Young Professionals. Founded in 1992, Thursday Network’s mission is to provide a forum for young professionals, ages 21–40; to assist the Greater Washington Urban League in achieving its goals; and to focus their efforts on community service and foster personal and professional development, social consciousness, civic engagement, and economic empowerment. Visit for more information or @ThursdayNetwork on Twitter.

The Greater Washington Urban League provides opportunity to historically vulnerable and diverse populations in Washington, DC, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Maryland. For nearly 80 years, the League has empowered communities and improved regional quality of life through workforce development, small business advisement and creation, employment & training, emergency assistance, securing & protecting homeownership, and scholarships for young scholars. Visit for more information or @GWUL365 on Twitter.

The Greater Washington Urban League is a major multicultural nonpartisan, nonprofit social services and civil rights organization. More at

The Greater Washington Urban League is a major multicultural nonpartisan, nonprofit social services and civil rights organization. More at