Hack Cleveland is pleased to be included as a community partner for The City Club of Cleveland’s Future Cleveland panel discussion. As a working collective focused on advancing social justice, HackCLE is committed to realizing our vision for an open, inclusive and affirming city. Accomplishing our goal of using technology to achieve justice for all Clevelanders will require a sober recognition of our city’s legacy of past and present inequities, while equipping our communities for the future. This means coming to grips with the implications of present policy challenges facing our city and leveraging technology to help solve those challenges.
HackCLE envisions this moment in Cleveland’s long history as a chance to align our city with the transformative power of technology. Increased awareness of regional tech needs indicates an opportunity to match tech jobs in multiple sectors with a willing and trainable workforce here in Northeast Ohio—one that has been historically overlooked. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people, low-income and formerly incarcerated people comprise a substantial part of the region’s untapped workforce. Thankfully, providing infrastructure for the development of an equipped and “homegrown” workforce is no longer out of reach. Many partners at the federal, state, and local level have already begun to put in place the necessary infrastructure to connect untapped talent to the tech jobs of the future.
And with an equal sense of urgency, we—as a city—must position ourselves to implement tech-oriented solutions to persistent social justice problems. Now is a chance to move beyond fear and distrust of the new and unfamiliar. Our origin as a collective is rooted in such an attempt. When Hack Cleveland’s founding members gathered after the shooting death of 11 year-old Tamir Rice, community discussion opportunities abounded, but action seemed far from our reach. Less than six months later, HackCLE hosted Fix216, a civic hackathon for community members, local leaders, activists, techies and everyone in between. In just two short days our hackathon produced tangible, innovative community tools such as cleconsentdecree.com to help citizens engage more meaningfully with the local policymaking process.
Ultimately, HackCLE envisions a thriving city that is stronger after boldly confronting and addressing systemic injustices and inequities, as both a moral and an economic imperative. This collective leverages the experiences and expertise of a diverse cadre of professionals, entrepreneurs, technologists, and activists, to advance social justice issues within our intersecting communities. We encourage area employers and technologists to join the discussion on broadening the scope of workforce development efforts to include technology. Cleveland is primed to invest in the development of tech minds from our own neighborhoods. Bold action will move our region into a diversified tech space that better represents its communities. We look forward to more critical discussions on the value of a diverse tech workforce and #socialjusticetech as we imagine the future of Cleveland.