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Grindr partners with White House to run hackathon for LGBTI equality

Grindr partners with White House to run hackathon for LGBTI equality

Grindr's offices in Los Angeles (pictured) will host the hackathon

Gay geo-dating app Grindr has called upon those with tech experience to take part in its #hack4equality initiative to find solutions for some of the challenges facing LGBTI communities.

The hackathon is being supported by HackerNest, Planned Parenthood, DevPost, and the White House’s Opportunity Project

Community partners include AllOut, Trans*H4CK, True Colors and It Gets Better Project, among many others.

The hackathon was launched in the summer and will culminate next week (25 September) with an event at the Grindr’s Los Angeles headquarters, where tech individuals and teams can demonstrate their ideas for digital solutions to the challenges faced by gay and trans communities.

‘We want your brilliant minds to craft technology-based solutions to critical issues affecting the global LGBTQ community in the four challenge sets’, says a message on its blog.

The challenge sets include: LGBTQ homelessness; trans visibility and empowerment; international LGBTQ issues; and access to sexual health services and PrEP.

Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai
Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai

‘We really want to see great innovation to help support justice and equities for the LGBTQ community in international issues,’ Grindr Head of People and Culture Jeremy Foreshew told TechCrunch last week.

The U.S. government has opened up the census data to enable Hack4Equality participants to explore the issue of LGBT people not being counted or represented.

‘We’re just not being represented because no one is asking about us or has asked about us historically. My colleagues provided anonymized Grindr data to basically put a rainbow filter over the census data, and to figure out if there are unique LGBTQ issues or flags that can be used to help solve problems.’

In a press statement, DJ Patil, US Chief Data Scientist with the White House Office of Science and Technology, said, ‘This collaboration is characteristic of a new approach this Administration has laid forth for how the federal government work with communities to address their top needs and priorities.’

Foreshew says the company hopes that the hackathon will lead to successful stand-alone products, or potential software that could operate within Grindr and benefit from the app’s vast reach. It has approximately 2million daily users in over 190 countries, and over 7million users in total.

‘What’s really important for us is to find opportunities where people can use the reach we have and use the goodwill we’ve created with the millions of users we have to kind of get that warm handshake.’

‘Grindr’s Hack4Equality initiative will spur the fresh, out-of-the-box thinking needed to break down the barriers’

Another of the community partners is Human Rights Campaign, which is supporting the sexual health/PrEP challenge. In a statement to GSN, Noel Gordon, HRC’s Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity said, ‘Despite study after study demonstrating how effective it is, PrEP use in the United States continues to be far too low.

‘Grindr’s Hack4Equality initiative will spur the fresh, out-of-the-box thinking needed to break down the barriers keeping people from accessing PrEP, especially young gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color.’

Those submitting tech solutions, either in person at the hackathon or through online participation, will be in with a chance of securing over $92,000 in prizes, including a $5,000 grand prize, free public affairs consulting, and a one-hour mentoring lunch with Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai.

Grindr launched in 2009 and quickly became one of the world’s biggest gay dating apps. Its users exchange over 70million messages daily, and active users spend, on average, 54 minutes logged on to the app each day.

At the beginning of this year, a 60% stake in the company was sold to Chinese gaming company Kunlun Tech for $93million.

Last month, the White House hosted its third, annual LGBTQ Tech and Innovation briefing. The event brought together 300 tech industry insiders to discuss how tech companies can create solutions for marginalized LGBTQ groups and to specifically improve engagement with the police.