Epic Foundation seeks non-profit and social enterprises: Apply now!

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The Epic Foundation has launched its selection process for 2017. If you’re a leading non-profits and social enterprise, get your application in before the 6 February deadline!

 

The Epic Foundation finances projects relating to tech and refugees, and it has just launched its 2017 selection process. As in past years, their goal is to identify high-impact organisations (NGOs or social enterprises) from around the world that support children and youth.

The successful applicants will be included in Epic’s portfolio of organisations and receive significant financial support.
Who should apply?

Epic’s global selection process identifies leading non-profit organisations and social enterprises. The focus of the selection process is on organisations and their impact, not on specific projects.

They are looking for organisations who are:

  • Working to enhance education, empowerment, health and/or protection
    for children and youth.
  • Based in East Africa, Southeast & East Asia, Europe, India and the United States.

They are also encouraging organisations from other countries to apply so they can add you to their database and identify applicants in advance of the 2018 global selection process.
How can you apply?

Read the application information
Fill in the application form

 

Techfugees at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackahon: donate to win your ticket!

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Saturday, December 3 at 12:30PM – Sunday, December 4 at 2:00PM

Copper Box Arena

London UK

Techfugees is partnering with TechCrunch Disrupt at one of the most anticipated hackathons of the year – TechCrunch Disrupt London Hackathon 2016! Together with other amazing partners – Twilio, IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa, etc. – we will present our key challenges and support teams during this 24-hour contest. The contest will be announced on the Hackathon website and on-site during the opening remarks. Techfugees will also provide and present the prize during the award ceremony on Sunday, December 4. 

For a chance to be part of it, make a minimum donation of £25 to our crowdfunding campaign with a TC Disrupt reference by December 1, 2016 – the deadline has been extended!

And if you donate £100 and above with a TC Disrupt Conference reference – you could win one of the 12 tickets to the Disrupt Conference worth £1200 each!!! Please find more information below

Donate by December 1, 2016 and win:

  • Donate £25… enter a draw to win 1 of 10 TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon tickets happening in London this December 2016.
  • Donate £100… enter a draw to win 1 of 12 TechCrunch Disrupt Conference tickets (Face Value £1200) happening in London this December 2016.
  • Donate £500… enter a draw to win 1 of 2 TechCrunch Disrupt VIP Dinner Tickets on Monday 5 December — £2,000/each value, AND be on our thank you wall of donors publicly available on our website and receive exclusive free tickets to all Techfugees events.

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About TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon 

Preceding the Disrupt Conference is Hackathon weekend on December 3-4, where  developers and engineers descend from all over the world to take part in a 24-hour hacking endurance test. Teams join forces to build a new product, present it on the Disrupt stage to a panel of expert judges and an audience of tens of thousands and compete for a variety of prizes, including the chance to win free tickets to the Disrupt Conference. Products created at the Disrupt Hackathon have seen great success beyond the event, like GroupMe which was created overnight and ultimately acquired by Skype for $80M.

About TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt is the world’s leading authority in debuting revolutionary startups, introducing game-changing technologies, and discussing what’s top of mind for the tech industry’s key innovators. Disrupt gathers the best and brightest entrepreneurs, investors, hackers, and tech fans for on-stage interviews, the Startup Battlefield competition, a 24-hour Hackathon, Startup Alley, Hardware Alley, and After Parties.

Techfugees partnered with Startup Weekend Amman and UNICEF Jordan on refugee challenges

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Software developers, designers and entrepreneurs of all ages competed in a 52-hours Startup Weekend event in Amman, Jordan, to develop innovative business solutions. Techfugees worked with UNICEF Jordan & Oasis500 to create a refugee track to the event – for participants to pitch innovative ideas to help refugees

Techfugees Amman Hack Winners Profugees

Techfugees in partnership with the team of Startup Weekend Amman, launched a refugees track to the event which took place on 17th-19th November at ZINC, Zain’s incubator space. Supported by UNICEF Jordan and Oasis500, three teams came to pitch for the track. The winner of the refugee track, ProFugees, a crowd-funding platform for refugees’ stories, won three months of weekly coaching and mentoring from Oasis500’s Chief Coach.

The weekend event brought together young software developers, designers and entrepreneurs, aged between 12 to 30, all from the region – migrants and refugees included.

Eva Kaplan Techfugees Refugee Event

In line with Techfugees’ events, the track aimed at developing local innovative & tech solutions for refugees.The challenge was to provide refugee kids with a voice, as explained by UNICEF Jordan’s Innovation specialist, Eva Kaplan:

“Anywhere in the world, when you pick up a newspaper, you will see a story about refugees.  Most of those stories will be negative. In addition, all over the world, government officials are making decisions that impact the lives of refugees.  The voices of refugees are rarely heard in these conversations.  They do not have the opportunity to tell their own stories, and they do not have the ability to provide their perspective on the issues that impact their lives. How can we use technology to amplify and elevate the voices of refugee children?  How can we make sure that those stories and perspectives are heard?”

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The winning team, Profugees, led by Hassan Al-Nouri, presented a prototype of a crowd-funding platform for young refugees. Here is how it works: a young refugee can pitch their story to a content creator (video producer, writer, journalists) and these content producers will create a whole crowd-funding campaign online around the story – this will generate revenue for the refugee and for the content producer. This enables for stories of young refugees and dreams to be more visible and potentially financially supported.

Two other teams pitched projects beyond the initial topic of young refugees’ voices, and found creative ways to provide innovative shelter solutions and education opportunities to refugees.

Techfugees Amman REfugees smart tent

Refugee Smart Tent (R.S.T.) wants to make camp tents that are self-sustained with solar powered energy, insulated against flood and equipped with a smart beacon, that can alert the administrator of the camp about emergency issues.

Study First, is an app that provides online homework content, controlled by local teachers, in arabic – and at the same time shuts down all social media applications on the device – so the student cannot be distracted while studying.

Want to know more about Techfugees’ next event and how to get involved? Check our calendar of events – or simply your city’s Techfugees local chapter.

How Technology Can Empower Local Refugee Communities Webinar with Cities of Migration

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Techfugees joined Cities of Migration online on November 23 for a conversation with Alan Vernon, Project Lead, Connectivity for Refugees, UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency to unpack UNHRC’s latest report, Connecting Refugees: How Internet and Mobile Connectivity Can Improve Refugee Well-Being and Transform Humanitarian Action. 

The webinar discussed the critical role that information and communications technology plays in improving the lives of refugees from city to city.

From the lifeline of mobile connectivity to internet basics for e-registering health and other  services, ICT and online platforms are providing scalable tech solutions that facilitate refugee connection and inclusion and driving enduring social innovation offline.

Schedule

The webinar started with Alan Vernon presenting UNHCR latest report on connectivity, followed by questions from Josephine, CEO of Techfugees, and a Q&A for the audience to contribute to a wider discussion.

About Alan Vernon, Project Lead, Connectivity for Refugees, UNHCR

Alan Vernon is currently the Project Lead for UNHCR’s new Connectivity for Refugees initiative. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Vernon was the Deputy-Director of the Division of Information Systems and Telecommunications in UNHCR Headquarters, the UNHCR Representative in Malaysia, and the Director for Organizational Development and Management in UNHCR Headquarters. Mr. Vernon previously served as UNHCR Representative in Sri Lanka as well as field assignments in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Thailand.

**

Want to know more about Techfugees’ next event and how to get involved? Check our calendar of events – or simply your city’s Techfugees local chapter.

Photo credits: Yemeni refugee shows his son’s picture on a mobile phone. © UNHCR/Oualid Khelifi  – from UNHCR report.

Donate to Techfugees & win tickets to TechCrunchDisrupt Hackathon

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Techfugees is giving away 10 tickets to the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon 2016 (3-4 December) to its members and we want you to be part of it! For a chance to get one, make a minimum donation of £25 to our crowdfunding campaign with a TC Disrupt reference by midnight on November 29, 2017. We will be picking the 10 winners at random and notifying them via email.

Plus,

Donate £100… enter a draw to win 1 of 12 TechCrunch Disrupt London 2016 Conference – tickets worth £1200 each.

Donate £500… enter a draw to win 2 x VIP TechCrunch Disrupt Conference Dinner tickets on Monday 5 December, worth £2,000 each!

…AND be on our thank you wall of donors publicly available on our website and receive exclusive free tickets to all Techfugees events!

Donate to Techfugees to help us enable and coordinate the tech community’s response to improving the lives of refugees.
https://uk.gofundme.com/donate2techfugees

Thank you so much for your support and good luck!

The demolition of Calais’ Jungle – Techfugees Notes

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Two weeks ago, The Techfugees team went to Calais to meet and talk with refugees, a few days ahead of the demolition.

The idea that technology can help support refugees is an obvious one, and we are interested in the “how”. Specifically, how can tech help refugees at each stage of their journey? Our goal for the weekend was to better understand the plight of refugees in camps and how tech can help them once the Calais Jungle was destroyed. How can tech help them communicate with loved ones, access information, and utilise NGOs on the ground to product vulnerable groups of women and children?

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We started our day early by going to meet the UK charities in operation on the ground. We first met Help Refugees who have been on the ground for a year and organising most of the volunteer donations and supplies, to get an idea of how the operations are organised, how many people are involved as volunteers, as well as learning about the post-Jungle plans.

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We saw how the charities rely on a large number of volunteers, with new arrivals every day. The briefing of volunteers is done face to face, with a great deal of reliance on improvised paper signs to organise the flow of people and materials. They have Whatsapp groups to organise the work: collection, triage and delivery – The impact that they achieve is commendable considering the resources they have, and is attributable to the unwavering dedication of their core team and volunteers. Watching the volunteers work tirelessly, we couldn’t help but wonder that is so much that could be done to make their work more efficient, to make their resources go further, and to make their efforts so much more impactful for the refugees.

We continued by going to the “Jungle” and meeting randomly with refugees. Some of them invited us into their “shelters” to talk about the demolition, and we listened to their stories. A lot of rumours were flying around. With each of them, we inquired on their use of technology and what kind of phones they had, what they were using it for, how they were paying for it etc.

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We saw that most of them use Android-based phones. They were constantly on Watsapp and Facebook – and yet they couldn’t get accurate or reliable information about the plan for the demolition, despite it happening over the next two days. We believe this presents a strong case for creating a trusted source of information – in the form of a chat-bot, or a simple, clean landing webpage in various languages and updated regularly. The IRC has already rolled out a successful project on these lines and Refugee Info Bus were the first to install wifi in Calais and provide legal information in 8 different languages.

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A garden in the Jungle.

We shared lunch with refugees and volunteers of charities at the last remaining restaurant of the Jungle, before heading to an volunteer-run school that was improvised from a container. A few children came, with a very wide age-range – from 18 months to about 8 years of age.

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There is much to be said about a classroom where teachers change every week, where the follow up on the formal classroom session is close to none, and the mixing of children of very different ages. Whilst the two volunteer teachers attempted to divide the class based on age in order to give them different activities, this made classroom management extremely difficult, and they both said that continuity was nearly impossible given the fluctuating attendance and revolving door of teachers. At best, it gave the children some form of engagement with educational material, but could not be said to constitute a proper education.

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There is a case here for a platform for teachers to share curricula and teaching materials across refugee camps worldwide, as well as the introduction of online records to facilitate handover between volunteer teachers. Teacher training- including online training- is also key, especially given that many volunteer teachers lack formal teaching qualifications or experience working in such chaotic conditions. There is also a case for a digital library, which can follow up on the children’s learning, and a real opportunity to teach refugee children languages with apps and games.

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chair outside of the school. The painting was found in the other camp of Grande Synthe, another camp 30 minutes away from Calais.

We then turned to Grande Synthe, near Dunkerque, where another camp has formed since last year. The mayor committed to building this camp to UNHCR standards. We were briefed on the camp history, and how it runs. Its future is uncertain, as the French state were opposed to its construction, but the mayor is determined to fight for the cause of refugee dignity and social inclusion. While by no means luxurious, it was a world of difference from Calais. People were given tools and equipment to cook and provide for themselves, and most importantly, it was safe enough for women and children to walk around freely.

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The mayor’s assistant expressed his interest to get refugees access to information online, as well as additional translation services to help refugees communicate and become socially included/ integrated. We are looking into coordinating a community of innovators that have worked in other camps, to provide internet and tech support to NGOs there. If you are interested in submitting your own solution for the camp or be part of the innovators coming with us – please do register yourself on Techfugees slack under the channel Grande Synthe.

**

It was not a pleasant field trip. The day left us quite exhausted and emotionally drained. It was not, for some of us, the first time in a camp but still – for all of us, the same troubling experience: seeing large numbers of people, including children, stuck in limbo, and without proper access to information. We couldn’t help but think about the consequences of a lost generation of children.

However we were able to observe first hand the complexity of the situation in which we are trying to deploy technology. Understanding the problem better will help us serve as a better conduit between the various stakeholders who are working hard to help refugees.

Donate to Techfugees to support technology solutions to refugees’ needs and social inclusion.

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Techfugees Cambridge Event – Learning English for Refugees

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Cambridge English and Techfugees hosted a conference on how technology can help refugees learn English.

Investors, technology experts and education specialists came together to work on language learning solutions that will make a difference to the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.

Juliet Wilson from Cambridge English opened by highlighting the enthusiasm in the language teaching profession for wanting to help. She said: ‘As an industry we have a great bank of skills and support to offer. We’re seeing lots of great initiatives but there is much more we can do through voluntary teaching, free resources and other language learning programmes. Technology will obviously play a huge role in helping migrants and refugees to learn English. At Cambridge English we are creating more and more digital content. Lots of this is free and it can reach vastly more people if we can work out how to get it there’.

Gillian Ragsdale spoke of her experiences teaching in Calais and the recent demolition of the ‘Jungle’. Fiona Pape (British Council) and Tony Capstick (University of Reading), delivered a discussion on the recent report, ‘Language for Resilience’, and facilitated a Skype call with former refugees now living in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Ahmad Al-Rashid TechfugeesAhmad Al- Rashid, a Syrian refugee currently studying for an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development at the University of London, spoke about his experiences of fleeing Aleppo, studying English online, and winning scholarships at four universities.

His story embodied the resilience and determination of so many Syrian people who have fled their country. Ahmad offered valuable insights into the language learning needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

Afternoon workshops, each with their own specific challenges, involved all guests in problem solving that was geared towards presenting a ‘lightning pitch’ at the end of the day.

Challenges included innovative approaches to teacher training, offline digital content, and establishing vital learner needs. Guests were offered the opportunity to pledge their time, resources, contacts or investment to the projects that they deemed most viable.

Techfugees HQ was delighted to see the Techfugees Cambridge chapter cooperating with Cambridge English to run and deliver a high quality content event. “Education is one of our core areas of focus at Techfugees, and language skills are vital to support refugees’ integration and find jobs in their new host community. We will continue to support Techfugees Cambridge deliver great events like these, with expert partners, gathering refugees, NGOs and techies to support the delivery of language solutions on the ground, at scale by the tech community.” says Josephine Goube, newly appointed CEO of Techfugees.

For more information on Techfugees Cambridge refer to the chapter’s page.

Techfugees in Calais

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Since the French authorities plan to demolish “The Jungle” (the informal refugee camp near Calais, France) as of October 24th, Techfugees is planning a visit there to meet refugees and NGOs. The Techfugees team will be in Calais from 21st until 22nd.

Our purpose will be the fact-find, and evaluate what technology can assist any refugees there in the near and long term future, especially regarding the needs of women and children.
We are calling on our community to follow us on Twitter and Facebook during our visit.

We are calling on NGOs working on the ground to contact us so we can meet with you as part of our research. Please email us on hello@techfugees.com

 

Techfugees Team Calais

Techfugees France Event: Using Data & Tech to Help NGOs & Refugees

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Techfugees France has teamed up with Data for Good x Bayes Impact to organise an evening event to discuss how to use data to help refugee related tech projects.

Data for Good x Bayes Impact is a community of over 1700 volunteer data scientists and developers offering their time and expertise to solve social challenges.

In October, they will be launching a new program dedicated to social impact projects during which, for two months, volunteers will be able to attend courses and mentoring sessions to help them develop their project. They will be selecting these projects in coming weeks.

This first event bringing Techfugees France and Data for Good x Bayes Impact together will take place at Talent.io on 15 September.

Sign up for the event here (free, but limited number of tickets!) :

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/la-data-appliquee-aux-thematiques-refugies-tickets-6798924767

Techfugees Jordan launched with key humanitarian actors

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Techfugees Jordan was launched at a Technology Salon organised by Souktel and UNICEF on August 15th at Orange BIG incubator in the presence of key players from the local tech and humanitarian community.

The event aimed at gathering initial ideas on what technology and local volunteers can achieve in the region.

Techfugees Amman First event Tech Salon
A failed selfie by Techfugees’ COO

The event initiated a discussion between refugees, major NGOs (UNHCR & UNICEF) and techies (Tech Salon, Reboot Kamp, MIT, Edraak, Kiron University,) on what can be done with current digital technologies and what collaboration between sectors can achieve.

The discussion was moderated by Eva Kaplan from UNICEF and revolved around 3 major key points:

  • Few projects get deployed and make an impact.How do you build tech that addresses the real needs of refugees (instead of just being “cool”) and is used by refugees (many projects find it hard to market their innovation)?
  • Often, the problem faced by refugees looks technical, but it is political. How do you go about this?
  • The humanitarian sector is often short of cash and trapped in emergency:how do you make a project sustainable?

The discussion that followed highlighted the importance of a user-centred design approach to any project: if any tech project wants to solve a problem, it needs first to define the problem from the users’ perspective and develop solutions with the user – so it can testify it does make a difference.

Also, this approach enables innovators toto measure what impact they can have. At the moment, internet has been cut off in camps in Jordan. Knowing that internet access is not a technical issue but a highly sensitive and political issue encourages innovators to build tech that can be accessible or used offline.

Finally, a rather important share of tech projects and startups today rely on data to generate a business model. This business model is not one that can transfer lightly in the humanitarian sector. The collection of personal data of vulnerable people puts innovators in a position where they could involuntarily make those individuals even more vulnerable: subject to bullying, threats and sometimes organised crime.

The event created a safe space to bring the communities together (refugees, NGOs and techies) and help find some of the disconnects.

Organised with the support of TechSalon, UNICEF and Orange Business, Techfugees is planning for a hackathon by the end of 2016 in Amman. If you are interested to volunteer and help the setting up of the chapter, do contact the local Techfugees Jordan representative.