Hackathon Pairs HBCU Undergrads with Pardee RAND Graduate Students to Identify Ideas for More Equitable COVID-19 Recovery

For Release

October 27, 2021

Undergraduate students from Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College will work alongside Pardee RAND Graduate School students to seek ways to help vulnerable communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic during a virtual policy hackathon offered by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and Pardee RAND Graduate School.

The RAND-AUC Consortium Tech and Public Policy Hackathon tasks students from the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Consortium institutions and Pardee RAND doctoral students to paint a data-driven picture of COVID-19 inequities and generate innovative ideas for a more equitable recovery. Participants will analyze a variety of datasets to determine how vulnerable populations fared during the pandemic and the extent to which policies, or a lack thereof, may have decreased or increased inequities.

“The inequitable effects of COVID-19 pose serious immediate and long-term problems for communities of color,” said Osonde Osoba, hackathon organizer and codirector of the Tech + Narrative Lab at Pardee RAND. “Not only does this hackathon give predominantly minority students an opportunity to help address these inequities and have their voices and experiences integrated into the policy conversation, it also helps them develop the research skills necessary to help advance other equity issues in the future.”

A total of 24 undergraduate students from Clark Atlanta, Spelman, and Morehouse will be paired with 16 Pardee RAND students and divided into six teams. Each team will be mentored by a RAND researcher and encouraged to use their skills and lived experiences as a first step to identifying possible policy solutions.

The hackathon is part of RAND's NextGen Initiative, which aims to strengthen the connection between diverse younger generations and today's most important public policy issues. The hackathon also looks to expand the work of the Pardee RAND Faculty Leaders Program, which aims to increase diversity in the field of public policy.

“This hackathon builds connections for emerging leaders of color to RAND and Pardee RAND by connecting policy-curious undergraduate students with experienced RAND analysts and Pardee RAND doctoral candidates for hands-on learning and engagement,” said NextGen Initiative Director Rachanee Srisavasdi.

The hackathon kicks off virtually on October 27, and final presentations will be delivered on November 17 to a panel of six judges:

  • Angelica Geter, chief strategy officer, the Black Women's Health Imperative
  • Dr. Raynard Kington, head of school, Phillips Academy Andover, and RAND Corporation trustee
  • Michael Scholtens, data analyst, Digital Threats to Democracy, The Carter Center
  • Asya Spears, doctoral candidate, Pardee RAND, and Spelman College alumna
  • Malcolm Williams, senior policy researcher at RAND and inclusion, diversity, and equity advisor, Pardee RAND.

For more information, please visit https://www.prgs.edu/research/tech-and-narrative-lab/equity-hackathon.html. Follow @RANDCorporation and @PardeeRAND on Instagram and Twitter and share using #HackingEquity.

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