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Bootstrapping Social Innovation: Technology Solutions for Sustained Livelihood

The NOLA Tech Tap: Community Ideathon 2022 brings together young people in New Orleans to develop and pitch a project idea to further sustainable livelihood in their community with the aid of technology.

Young people are the current and future inhabitants of this planet. Enabling them to work together on tackling complex social, environmental, and economic challenges is an investment in the future – theirs, ours, and everyone’s! With the NOLA Tech Tap we do exactly this: connect young people in an enabling setting to further community wellbeing at the local level and beyond.

“A bird’s-eye view of future New Orleans according to the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. Illustration: Drawing by Palmbout Urban Landscapes” published with the Guardian Article “Reimagining New Orleans” from 20 Aug 2015.

The sustainable livelihoods approach is a way of thinking about the objectives, scope, and priorities for development activities worldwide. While focusing on livelihoods in and around New Orleans, our Tech Tap will seek to uncover solutions that are based on evolving thinking about the importance of forward-looking policies,  institutions, practices, and communities. We aim to produce tech-oriented approaches to inclusive, sustainable development activities at the local level and beyond.

Our efforts are geared toward aligning these development activities with the Sustainable Development Goals and their compelling aspiration to “Leave No-one Behind”. The solution ideas we seek to generate must be people-centric, placing human beings at the focal point of action. For a people-centric approach, the process of innovation should be responsive and participatory, consulting stakeholders and giving every voice its due consideration. This engenders multilevel and dynamic design principles to make space for community-centric innovation. The NOLA Tech Tap promises to address these policy levers and above all, stay true to the sustainable approach it endorses. 

Challenge Statement

New Orleans is a hotspot of talent, social capital, and innovation teeming with diversity and provides the ideal ground for the Melton Foundation and Nisum to join hands and bind the Sustainable Development Goals to create the NOLA Tech Tap: Community Ideathon 2022. This 48 hours Innovation Marathon draws upon the convergence of youth empowerment, collaboration, and diversity to propel innovation in the field of the SDGs and ignite social innovation and entrepreneurship. It also crucially recognizes the integrating link existing through the 17 SDGs, making them interdependent whilst highlighting balanced development.  

Through this virtual marathon, we seek to create spaces & foster collaboration to let fresh thinking emerge, harness the true spirit of global citizenship and problem-solving abilities,  and find meaningful tech-oriented solutions to further sustained livelihoods. With this over-arching theme in mind, we ask that participants design actionable, inclusive, and achievable project ideas that activate local communities to become stakeholders in the use of technology to improve sustainable livelihoods in New Orleans, while also being cognizant of bridging gaps across different socio-economic stratas and design solution ideas for those with no technology background.

More specifically, participants are encouraged to design social innovation project ideas driven by technology that relate to the Innovation Challenges the NOLA Tech Tap is looking to tackle:

  • How might we harness technology for social innovation to propel equitable and sustainable livelihood in the region?
  • ​​How might we activate local communities to become stakeholders in the use of technology for social, economic, and ecological impact?
  • How might we bridge gaps in economic empowerment for those with a limited technology background to further decent work and economic growth opportunities for all?

The innovation marathon will engage participants around real-life challenges and equip them to work together cross-boundary to develop simple, practical, and creative solution ideas using technology as a tool to propel social impact.

Our Motivation : SDGs 8,10, 17

The Tech Tap derives its essence from SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 (reduced inequality). At this intersection, the event searches for myriad ways to leverage technology and level playing fields. Furthermore, SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals) provide anchors for the endeavor, broadening its scope to reach beyond the conventional. 

As a leading proponent of Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development Goals, the Melton Foundation is active in Global Citizenship hubs around the world, including New Orleans, USA. 

The Melton Foundation’s activities in New Orleans have engaged young people who connect with peers around the world to design comprehensive solutions. Our UN SDG Innovation Challenges push for practices ranging from social entrepreneurship to systems thinking to fortify our ideals of diversity, youth empowerment, and problem-solving. Nisum, a champion of values involving transparency, inclusivity, respect, and excellence, is an organization that utilizes the power of technology to drive tangible change and deliver actionable solutions. Our partnership with Nisum thus finds a solid foundation for it to flourish, creating a convergent space where ideas merge into action. It further gains significance with the Tech Tap, where we deploy technology to advance the motto of sustainable livelihood

The United Nations defines SDG 8 as: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. With the pandemic vastly slowing down global development engines, disrupting economies and livelihoods, ‘decent work and economic growth remain a mirage for many worldwide. With this contextual background, the NOLA Tech Tap materializes as a 48 hour virtual innovation marathon that aims to unearth novel approaches to address challenges in a practical and tangible way!

Our community ideathon challenges participants to come together in exploring and designing solution ideas that facilitate the realization of SDGs 8,10, 5, and 17, through multiple paradigms and approaches. We seek to emphasize innovations through incorporation of technology and the spirit of collaboration!

Why Participate

Ideation and Collaboration: The NOLA Tech Tap calls upon participants to work together in closely-knit cohorts to tackle challenges in pursuance of a collective cause: to further sustainable livelihood in the local community and beyond.

Developing novel project ideas: Brainstorm potentially game-changing approaches and contribute to the growing body of work by global problem-solvers while adding value to your community.

Skills and Professional capacity building: This event requires contestants to flex and sharpen multiple skills, including technical skills, soft skills, and entrepreneurial mettle.

Exciting Incentives: Successful innovation teams will receive recognition and opportunities comprising prize money (figuring a total of 1000 USD for the three winning teams) to activate project ideas; support, mentorship, and guidance from Nisum experts; and a potential chance to join hands with local community partners.

Enhanced visibility: Successful proposals of project initiatives will be showcased on global platforms and pitched to a wider audience, amplifying visibility and allowing the ideas to gain the traction required to scale and develop further.

Participants are encouraged to adopt a holistic paradigm while developing ideational frameworks for a future where opportunities abound for all sections of the population! Candidates may participate individually or within teams based on personal choice.

Awaken the innovator in you!

Applications close on 31st August, 2022.

What do we seek from participants? 

The NOLA Tech Tap 2022 is open to participation for young people aged 18-35 years in and around New Orleans who want to make a difference in their community!

As a participant at the ideation marathon, we hope you can bring:

  • A connection to this year’s challenge theme Bootstrapping Social Innovation: Technology Solutions for Sustained Livelihood.
  • Passion for and commitment to improving livelihoods in the Greater NOLA area.
  • Desire to work together with people from different domains and backgrounds.
  • Curiosity about and conviction for sustainable development.
  • The motivation to work in an agile hackathon-like environment, to engage pro-actively, and to ideate extensively throughout the event.
  • The commitment to take the idea to completion and remain engaged with the cause post the NOLA Tech Tap 2022!


Guidelines for Applicants

Registration Modalities: To be considered for participation, all applicants must sign up here. Participants can sign-up individually or in a pre-formed team, however every team member must complete the sign-up form individually. In the sign-up form, there is a space to indicate whether you are applying individually or in a team.

Registration Time: The sign-up form is comprehensive and takes 15-20 minutes on average to complete. Please do not skip questions and try to give us the best context about your motivation to participate through your answers!

Review and confirmation of participants: Because participation slots are limited, a review committee will evaluate all registrations after the application deadline has passed (Aug 31st 2022). The will select up to 100 suited candidates into the NOLA Tech Tap 2022 based on the information provided and motivation transmitted by the applicants.

All decisions will be conveyed in early September 2022.

Organizers and Collaborators

Embracing SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals, the NOLA Tech Tap 2022 is a collaborative effort of numerous local, regional, and global organizations, including the following: