Code Nation Hackathon: Supporting the Next Generation of Coders

Code Nation is a national organization bridging the digital divide and creating new opportunities for students in STEM through education and empowerment.

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Throughout the United States, Code Nation acts as the connective tissue between students in under-resourced high schools and professionals working in technology who give them guidance and support. They’re a seamless fit with 8th Light's company values and goals, and we were honored to sponsor and volunteer at their annual Best of Chicago Hackathon.

A total of 73 high schoolers and 50 volunteer tech professionals helped 11 teams of first-year students, and five teams of advanced fellows and alumni, develop live applications that showcased some of the best parts of Chicago. Winning teams were able to go even further, developing a dynamic app that curates Chicago-based recommendations based on a user's chosen interests.

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This year’s winning project in the first-year competition allowed users to enter the site based on the season. Users then got to choose food and activities that interested them.

This was 8th Light's second large event partnering with Code Nation, and our account director Kristin Kaeding has been involved in this partnership from the start in 2019. “From the beginning of my relationship with Code Nation Chicago, the team has focused on genuine partnership and creating both qualitative and quantitative positive impacts for the students they serve,” says Kristin. “Year after year they teach, challenge, and inspire kids to build, code, and think in tech. They commit to the hard work of making a difference in student’s lives, and supporting these students’ careers into adulthood.”

This year, our director of talent acquisition Camille Shrouder-Henry served as a finalist judge. “Seeing the incredible talent from the communities that Code Nation serves was inspiring,” she says. “The hackathon was held in downtown Chicago and hosted students from under-resourced high schools — granting access to careers in technology through collaboration and opportunities to learn from the likes of our 8th Light crafters. The projects, ideas, and technical skills showcased were exceptional. The future of tech looks bright!”

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This year's winners received laptops, Kindles, and Target gift cards.

We're proud to partner with Code Nation for the entire year, and we look forward to deepening our engagement with this program in Chicago and nationwide.

Kate Hamilton, VP, Growth Marketing

Kate Hamilton is 8th Light's VP of growth marketing. Based in Chicago, Kate has 15+ years of marketing experience working with a range of companies from Fortune 500 to startups. As a former journalist, she leverages her storytelling skills to engage audiences, augment brand messaging, and create integrated marketing strategies. In her spare time she's an avid runner, karaoke enthusiast, and tabby cat owner.

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