Roots of Hope Organizes first Hackathon for Cuba

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Miami hackathon seeks to improve communications for Cuba residents” by Maria de los Angeles

Miami hackathon seeks to improve communications for Cuba residents” by Natalia Martinez and Lisette Garcia on Knight Blog 

MIAMI – (Jan. 22, 2014) – On Jan. 31, 2014 Hackathon for Cuba will gather technology experts and programmers to devise innovative solutions aimed at strengthening communications and information access in Cuba. The event is organized by Roots of Hope with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The hackathon aims to ease the limitations of living in Cuba, often called the “island of the disconnected,” due to its communication challenges. Problems with Internet connectivity, costly service, censorship and the lowest cellphone penetration rate in the Western Hemisphere regularly limit information access to Cubans.

The hackathon will bring together a mix of technologists and thought leaders familiar with information barriers in Cuba to develop smartphone applications that address these problems. Participants will then present their ideas to a panel of judges. Prizes will be awarded for the most innovative and useful apps. The event is open to the public.

“There is a great demand in Cuba for applications that work without access to the Internet and technological tools that improve the everyday life of Cuban people,” said Natalia Martinez, chief innovation and technology officer at Roots of Hope. “Roots of Hope has long recognized that the impact of technology in Cuba cannot be underestimated and we are excited to launch what we hope will be a continued conversation about this.”

“Events like these spark momentum for more innovation in Miami by bringing the community together to solve real-world problems,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami.

The event will kick off with a reception at 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 31 at The LAB Miami in Wynwood, starting with a presentation on the current state of technology and digital access in Cuba. The hackathon begins at 9 a.m. EST on Saturday, Feb. 1.

The event is free and open to the public. To register please visit,

About Roots of Hope Roots of Hope (Raíces de Esperanza) is a not-for-profit network of more than 4,000 students and young professionals who work together to empower youth in Cuba to become the authors of their own future through connection, technology, and exchange. For more information, please visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Natalia Martinez, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer, Roots of Hope, 305-397-8604, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]