Every summer, Dropbox dedicates a week for employees to explore new ideas and work on projects that inspire them outside of their day-to-day job. Called Hack Week, it’s a time that focuses on innovation, creativity, and risk-taking. This year, the theme was “Reinventing On Our Roots”—exploring how to evolve the core characteristics of Dropbox so that we can adapt to the new world we're in.
At the root of the Dropbox Foundation is a commitment to empowering Dropbox employees to use their skills to help the Foundation partners and the larger community. Similar to previous Hack Weeks, employees this year worked with our partners and other nonprofit organizations on various projects that leveraged their skills in areas like engineering, design, data analysis, security, and more.
Rooted in information
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a nonprofit committed to using forensic science to investigate and document human rights violations, wanted to convert their 2020 annual report from a print format to an interactive digital format. Dropbox employees created wireframe mockups of a digital version and also introduced PHR to DocSend, a document sharing and analytics platform, to help them gain a better understanding of the readership of the report. “We’re excited to see the impact these projects will have on PHR’s ability to reach more audiences and share our work,” said Michelle Wilczynski, digital director and interim communications director at PHR.
Rooted in climate action
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is a nonprofit that is working towards securing a world where natural habitats and environments can sustain, and be sustained by, the communities that depend upon them for their basic needs and livelihoods. EJF asked for help creating a map that simultaneously shows that the climate crisis is deepening, and that those countries that have contributed least are now suffering its worst effects. For this project, the Dropbox ITS Business Intelligence team created an interactive and informative dashboard that illustrates this and also provided training to the EJF team so they can continue to iterate on the map after Hack Week was over. “The tool that you have created for us will allow us to show that data in a visual and easy-to understand way, as well as make that emotional connection when viewers explore the stories of individuals at the frontlines of the crisis,” said Daisy Brickhill, communications manager at EJF. “It’s also especially important to get those messages out now, ahead of what is probably the most important global meeting in our lifetimes: the climate talks at COP26.”
Rooted in security
Dropbox employees worked with Restless Development, a nonprofit that supports young people in becoming leaders and advocates for their community, to perform a cybersecurity risk assessment on their systems. This assessment ultimately resulted in 56 security control recommendations and the Dropbox team will continue to provide further support to guide implementation of these recommendations. “Our experience working with Dropbox employees was organized, expert, and flexible, which made it a really easy process from our side,” said Nick Chadwick Williams, senior data and programme quality coordinator at Restless Development. “The results from Hack Week will be hugely valuable to our organization.”
Rooted in analysis
Belong To Youth Services supports LGBTI+ young people in Ireland and during the COVID-19 pandemic, getting donations and finding volunteers have become increasingly important for the organization. So Dropbox employees helped with two projects during Hack Week. The first was to help Belong To understand donor patterns, gain insight on giving campaigns, and develop a strategy for the future. The second was focused around creating a new onboarding process for volunteers. Oisin O'Reilly, head of operations and fundraising at Belong To, said “Dropbox employees’ excitement, insight, passion, and skills have really come through as we've progressed our projects. The data analytics project is going to help us reach even more young people when they need it. And the help from the education and training team at Dropbox in creating a new onboarding process for our volunteers is going to help them learn the skills they need to work with young people and drive our mission forward.”
Rooted in relationship
Dropbox engineers helped Foundation alumni partner, WITNESS, who uses the power of video and technology to champion human rights, update their resource library to make it easier to navigate and curate. This resource library is critical to the nonprofit’s work because it aids them in sharing valuable guidance on human rights documentation with activists around the world. The improved and more user friendly library will help the WITNESS staff and countless activists to gather and share resources more easily. “Having Dropbox support during Hack Week prompted us to think quickly and strategically about how to articulate the challenges we were facing and identify areas where we most urgently needed help on our WITNESS Library redesign,” said Jackie Zammuto, senior program manager at WITNESS. “It felt like a welcome boost in productivity on the project.”
Not only do these projects benefit the partners, they’re also a reminder to Dropbox employees that their own skills can help further protect and advocate for human rights worldwide. We’re looking forward to continue deepening and strengthening our relationship with our Foundation partners in the Hack Weeks to come.