The 2019 Impact Summit: Building a Community of Young Technologists to Change the World
Last June, the 2018 Impact Summit brought together over 250 students and young technologists passionate about building a more equitable and just world for a three-day conference. The weekend was packed with events, including a hackathon, a social startup competition, and a social impact career fair, not to mention the many workshops and keynotes by people like the Co-Founder and President of GiveDirectly, the Director of Civic Innovation at Microsoft, and the Founder of Venture for America.
Though we were incredibly proud of The 2018 Impact Summit, we couldn’t help but dream about what more we could do. What would it look like to totally rethink The Impact Summit and intentionally design every piece of it to inspire and empower attendees to change the world?
Which is why, on a cold day this January in NYC, Adi, Aaron, and I were sitting on a living room floor surrounded by piles of post-it notes filled with dreams for the future. As Co-Directors of Impact Labs, we love to envision new ways to change the world, and our process of rethinking what The Impact Summit could be was no exception.
We had just spent three days having impromptu singalongs and living on ice cream, sauteed vegetables, and Dani’s pizza (the best pizza in Queens, according to Aaron). Between trips to Dani’s, we had hunkered down in a coffee shop and did the exact same design exercises we had taught our Impact Fellows just two weeks earlier: define a problem statement and generate as many post-it note solutions as possible. When you’re completely drained of ideas, come up with twenty — if not fifty — more. Then, shoot them all down and start again.
We spent hours filling stacks of post-it notes with ideas for inspiring and empowering young technologists to build a better world. By the end, the post-its we had ranged from fostering a better community on Facebook to connecting students in the Impact Labs Family network with each other to founding a new society in Antarctica. After the coffeeshop ideation, we hunkered down once again, this time in the living room, and spent hours talking through each and every post-it.
After fleshing out our plans for cohabitating with penguins in our Antarctic community, we arrived at a new structure for The 2019 Impact Summit that, frankly, we’re SUPER excited about! This new structure focuses on building resilient, genuine community, because if we hope to empower the next generation of change-makers and put an end to inaccessible education, climate change, gender inequalities, global hunger, and so much more, we must create a community that makes young technologists like ourselves excited and proud to be tackling these global challenges head-on, together.
If we hope to empower the next generation of change-makers and put an end to inaccessible education, climate change, gender inequalities, global hunger, and so much more, we must create a community that makes young technologists like ourselves excited and proud to be tackling these global challenges head-on, together.
To that end, The 2019 Impact Summit will be made up of weekly free events spread over the entire summer in NYC. By spreading the events out, we’ll provide plenty of time for people to recognize familiar faces, share meals together, and connect on a deeper level than a three-day conference would allow.
We’ll kick things off at Opening Day on Saturday, June 15th and come back together to wrap them up at Closing Day on Saturday, August 10th, and for the eight weeks in between we’ll host an evening speaker series, giving attendees both the chance to see each other weekly and to have more intimate, close conversations with eight amazing speakers.
Of course, we’ll also keep and improve upon all the things that made last year’s Impact Summit a success. The 2019 Impact Summit will include a social impact career fair to connect attendees with socially impactful tech positions, a social startup competition to provide them with early-stage no-strings-attached funding, and an incredible roster of workshops and keynotes by people using tech to solve the global challenges of our generation.
Our hope for this particular post-it note dream is that some attendees walk away with a social impact internship or job lined up; others get the funding they need to launch their social ventures; and still others are inspired to action by the conversations they have with our speakers and with each other.
Our biggest, world-changing dream, though, is that The 2019 Impact Summit creates a community in which the future leaders of our era feel inspired, excited, and proud to be building a better world, together. To borrow Margaret Meade’s words, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Learn more and apply to join us for any or all of The 2019 Impact Summit at impactlabs.io/summit!