At 5:30 p.m., on Friday October 21, a steady stream of participants made their way through the doors of BrainStation Toronto. After registering for Capital One Canada’s first charity hackathon, they received a hoodie and a swag bag. Carrying their laptops and new belongings, they scoped out the venue’s three floors and the large tent installed on BrainStation’s patio. The Capital One creative team had decorated BrainStation with themed toss pillows, Muskoka chairs, picnic tables, small pine trees and fake grass. As the sun went down, the ambiance in the space was delightful and welcoming.

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Gift the Code is merely a few days away! By now, some of you will have thought about your game plan, while others are waiting to get there before doing so. Some of you will already have teams and others will form them over dinner at kick-off. Whatever your decision, it really doesn’t matter either way because you’ll all have fun using your creativity, experience and problem-solving skills to tackle the challenges put forth by the charity randomly assigned to your team.

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Teenagers and young adults go through an often bewildering period of emotional, intellectual and physical growth as they go through the process of fleshing out their personalities, values and ambitions. As they mature, their frequently overly-sensitive egos swim through a sea of diverse belief systems, attitudes, discourse and information. Prone to self-doubt and occasional arrogance, it’s a precarious period, where different choices can have an enormous impact on their lives.

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On the Women’s Habitat website, a header bar sits at the top of the page – it’s yellow and covers the entire width of the browser window. On it, in bold red, the text “Leave this site now” is explicitly positioned on a white button. To its left, there are hyperlinked instructions to remove any evidence of your visit to the site. For many of us, the reasons for this may not be immediately clear, but for a woman who is experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing violence and abuse, the reasons are obvious.

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Toronto Pflag is a volunteer-run, registered charitable organization. Through support, education and advocacy, they work to create a more accepting society for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and their families, friends and allies.

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If you won $10,000 to give to a charity, what kind of an impact would you like that money to make? Perhaps you’d like to help feed the poor? Or perhaps you’d like to help make our environment healthier by reducing waste? You might think both these causes are deserving of your charitable dollars and you might rack your brain and conclude that you can merge the two causes: feed people experiencing food insecurity by reducing food waste!

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Founded in 1986, Prosper Canada is a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program and policy innovation. They are one of six participating charities at Gift the Code and they’ll be presenting different tech challenges to participants.

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The Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is a world-class organization and global leader in applied research, teaching and learning, and client- and family-centred care. They are one of six participating charities at Gift the Code and they’ll be presenting 3 different tech challenges to participants. Each week, we’ll be introducing you to another participating charity and we’ll share the challenges that they’re facing and the problems they’re hoping to solve at the hackathon.

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Gift The Code is taking place at BrainStation Toronto’s downtown King and Spadina location – an iconic, historical building that was built in 1875. It’s said that new ideas need old buildings, and BrainStation is a perfect representation of old infused with new. The former youth hostel was redesigned and modernized to create a cutting-edge, digital-technology education hub without compromising the historical character of the space. With brick walls, bright spaces and a great coffee shop, BrainStation is inviting and inspiring – the perfect venue for a hackathon!

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Welcome to Gift the Code, a hackathon from Capital One that will help advance the cause of six local charities by giving them a technology boost!

Driven by the desire to commit as much funding as possible toward their respective causes, local charity organizations often operate on tight budgets and rarely have access to top-tier technology talent. This prevents them from taking full advantage of digital solutions that are already available. By bringing your skills, talents and unique perspective to Gift the Code, you can change this and help give participating organizations a much-needed boost.

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