Challenge: Applying for Food Stamps

Food stamps is a federal program that helps low-income families buy food and stay healthy. It’s one of the largest and most important social service programs in the country – about 50 million Americans use this service everyday and half of all kids will rely on food stamps while growing up. Getting food stamps reduces a family’s risk of being food insecure by about one-third and is associated with better health across the board.Read More

Challenge: Applying for Affordable Housing

Subsidized housing programs provide housing assistance for low-income residents, residents with mental illness, elderly, individuals with disabilities, or any families facing serious barriers to retaining housing.Read More

Challenge: Applying for your Criminal Record

Your criminal record, also known as your rap sheet, is the legal document which includes your complete history in the justice system. Getting a copy of your criminal record is the first step in many important justice system processes, like getting your felonies expunged. It can be difficult to obtain a copy as the process differs by county. We believe getting your record should be as easy as getting your credit score.Read More

Challenge: Applying for Victim Compensation

Victim compensation is a program that helps pay bills and expenses to victims who have experienced certain violent crimes. Given the complex eligibility process, much of the funding allocated to this program goes unused each year. We think that technology and design can help to simplify this process and encourage more victims to seek help and apply.Read More

Challenge: #DataAtWork Workforce Data Initiative

The White House, the University of Chicago, and other public and private organizations have collaborated to create a shared resource for companies, states, and non-profits to access the data underlying jobs, skills, training, and wages.

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Challenge: Combating Zika and Future Threats

In today’s interconnected world, we’re more vulnerable than ever to devastating outbreaks and epidemics. Infectious diseases like the Zika virus, Ebola or SARS can take hold in a community suddenly and spread rapidly, traveling across borders before medical leaders and government officials have time to react. In 2014, Ebola killed over 10,000 people in West Africa. In 2003, the SARS outbreak caused over 8,000 people worldwide to become sick, of those, close to 800 died. Now Zika is projected to infect as many as four million people by the end of this year, possibly causing birth defects in babies born to pregnant women that become infected with the virus. As we become more connected, so does the velocity of the challenges we face in safeguarding our global health security.

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Challenge: Open Foreign Assistance

Globally the U.S. government is one of the largest donors of foreign assistance. We invest in countries around the globe to assist with economic development, humanitarian needs, health, and security challenges. In an effort to increase transparency and accountability, the government developed a website that tracks and visualizes foreign assistance investments in an accessible and user-friendly way. This website ( provides open access to foreign assistance data by year, country, agency, and sector for the public to explore and use.

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Challenge: Ready to Work En Español

For this year’s National Day of Civic Hacking, we’re challenging volunteers to build products and prototypes that help connect Spanish speaking job seekers to training that will teach them skills to get jobs. We’ll then share these results with the US Department of Labor. In regions around the country, there are many schools, colleges, and training programs that provide career technical education in Spanish, teach English as a Second Language (ESL), and/or contextualize vocational training along with ESL. There is currently no easy way to find these programs, particularly for people who don’t speak English. This challenge would compile lists of these resources and allow easy access via smart phones for non-English speakers to find programs. This database could be enhanced with user and employer feedback about the efficacy of the classes. These data could transform the way non-English speakers find and have access to skill building programs that will increase their employability.

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Challenge: The Opportunity Project

The Opportunity Project is an Obama Administration initiative to use Federal and local data and digital tools to expand access to opportunity for all Americans. Launched in March of 2016, The Opportunity Project data and tools help families, communities, local leaders, and the media navigate information about neighborhood-level resources like quality housing, schools, jobs, transit options, safe streets, and parks. The Project aims to serve as a platform for collaboration—bringing together Federal and local government, civic technologists, community members, advocates, policy experts and data stewards to work together to build meaningful visualizations and digital tools that improve people’s lives.

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Challenge: Lyme Innovation

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates ~300,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the United States every year—more than HIV and invasive breast cancer diagnoses combined. Johns Hopkins University researchers estimated that the cost to U.S. tax payers is $1.3 billion dollars each year in direct medical costs (not accounting for lost wages, opportunity costs, or caregiver costs) due to inadequate and untimely treatment of Lyme disease. Both domestically and globally, Lyme disease is a public health threat.
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