The HackAd approach

hackAD will adapt, disseminate and scale up the Social Hackathon Umbria (#SHU) good practice on inclusive learning, which was initiated and implemented by the project partner Egina (P2) in Foligno, Italy.

Originally planned as the Italian final event of the Generation0101 project, the first edition of Social Hackathon Umbria, SHU2016, has immediately demonstrated to impact in a positive and sustainable way on all the actors involved in the co-creation process of digital solutions to societal challenges. The initiative has been carried out for the last three years in the city of Foligno (Italy) involving an increasing number of participants (from 80 in 2016 to more than 160 in 2018) who have benefited from different learning activities implemented during a timeframe of 3-4 months. In fact, the SHU training methodology provides the involvement of two main target groups:

– young disadvantaged learners who follow a structured training programme on one or more digital competencies to enhance their vocational profile and put in practice what they have learned contributing to the development of digital solutions that answer specific social challenges (acting as junior hackers during the final hackathon);

– representatives from public or private entities that are active at social level and have an interest in identifying and developing a digital solution to a social issue (acting as challenge givers and actively participating at the event).

The main strength of SHU is to base the entire process on the educational potential that a co-creation experience could offer to all the participants, regardless of their digital competence level and professional or personal profile. Therefore, based on the annual focus of each single edition of SHU, different additional groups have been invited to take part at the final event, which lasts 48 hours and represents the final phase of a quite long-term process where everyone involved has finally the feeling to have won something, although they have been effectively awarded with a plate or a prize.

SHU has been implemented for three years so far, changing the thematic focus every year (2016 digital for non-profit – 2017 digital for cultural heritage – 2018 digital for entrepreneurship and employment) and involving:
– 120 among NEETs, unemployed youths and refugees who attended one or more training courses, with an average duration of 30 hours each, in web design, online collaboration tools, e-journalism, easy coding, mobile app development, digital video, video game development, digital storytelling, augmented reality content production and graphic design.
– 60 among non-profit organisations, social enterprises, associations, public bodies and individual social innovators from all over Europe applied with a proposal for the development of a digital solution to a social problem.
– 200 high school students participated at different level at the event: as members of the co-development teams, supporting the media coverage team, attending parallel events and workshops.
– 18 concrete digital solutions (6 every year) have been developed and shared with Creative Commons license CC BY-NC 3.0 IT.

Moreover, every year, 100-150 among experts, digital passionate, kids with parents and grandparents, and many other actors participate at the various side-events promoted during the main event (open only to accredited participants): social jury sessions, play zone, digital exhibitions and tours of the city, workshops and seminars. In other words, the main pedagogical objective of SHU consists in enhancing at the maximum possible grade the impact that a training intervention has on the learners, by letting them experience how:
1. they can spend the competences acquired during the training in the realization of a concrete digital product or service, which is useful to the rest of the society and answers to a social challenge;
2. cooperation and team work are key elements for the successful implementation of a project; and
3. answering to the needs of a certain target group cannot disregard the involvement of those directly affected by those needs or, at least, of some representative of relevant organizations e.g. non-profit organisations or social enterprises.

Indeed, the third aspect of this list can be elected as the second innovative element of the SHU format: making sure that the direct beneficiaries of the solutions (e.g. social enterprises, NGOs CSOs working in the field of social inclusion, schools, Youth organisations; libraries, public authorities etc.) which will be developed during the contest will not only actively participate in the definition of the challenge, but they will also be part of the co-creation groups. Last, but not least, the third crucial aspects in the organization of SHU is the selection of motivated and skilled team managers, who monitor and lead the co-creation process and guarantee the finalization of the outputs.

During the first three years of the initiative, we have collected numerous evidences of the short-term positive effects on the participating youths, such as the creation of professional and educational opportunities for NEETs who finally realized what direction to take in the future, but also refugees who had the chance to show their talents and competences in the digital field. Moreover, we are now starting to register the long-term impact that the digital solutions developed thanks to the SHU can bring to the wider society; for example, we have recently been notified that the FuroRiga website (, which is managed by the homonym NGO, has been recognized by the Italian Government as the only adequate website to allow communication and exchange of anonymous letters between teenagers inside and outside the prison!