Background: Young women face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. Nineteen percent of women (nearly 1 in 5) report experiencing sexual assault while in college. Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances. “Bystander” campaigns teach peers how to identify these circumstances and intervene before an assault occurs.  Dating violence also disproportionately affects young women in this demographic. Young people turn to each other for help more often than they turn to parents, but most don’t know how to intervene if a friend needs help. Seventy-five percent of college students say that it is important to intervene, but over half say they don’t know how. Moreover, sixty percent of college students who have been in an abusive relationship say no one helped them. Websites, hotlines and resources are available for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing violence and abuse.  However, few tools currently exist to proactively prevent violence and abuse from occurring.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are collaborating with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses. Consistent with the Office of the Vice President’s focus on the high rates of dating violence and sexual assault violence committed against young women, this developer’s challenge encourages the creation of innovative applications to help young adults prevent violence and abuse.

The challengeVice President Biden and Secretary Sebelius are honored to announce a challenge that encourages the development of applications that provide college students and young adults with the tools to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault. The application envisioned will offer individuals a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse or violence from occurring. While the application will serve a social function of helping people stay in touch with their friends, it will also allow friends to keep track of each other’s whereabouts and check in frequently to avoid being isolated in vulnerable circumstances.

The primary users of the application may include (but are not limited to) college/university students, residential advisors, sorority or fraternity members, and young men and women who would like to be role models and promote prevention in our communities.  Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of violence and abuse, and while no one can do everything, everyone can do something. This application is envisioned to empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs. The application should also be designed to provide potential bystanders with real-time support from friends and access to resources that will encourage them to intervene before abusive behavior happens and educate them about how to do so safely and effectively. This application is a step in enabling young women and men to take an active role in the prevention of dating violence and sexual assault. 

Hackathon Sponsors


First Place (2)

The winner of this challenge will be publicly recognized and celebrated by HHS, and all finalist applications will be featured on an HHS website. Representatives from HHS, (e.g., Todd Park), OSTP (e.g., Aneesh Chopra) and OVP will be present for the announcement of the Challenge Winner (November 1) to celebrate innovations toward ending domestic violence and sexual assault, including the winning applications and teams from this challenge.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter


Interested persons should read these Official Rules and register at the portal:  Registration is free and can be completed anytime during the Application Submission Period, July 13, 2011, to October 17, 2011.  Submissions should include a title, text description of the submission, a link to the application/prototype, and a list of data sources and/or datasets used.  Pictures and video are optional but helpful.


The webinar with HHS and White House representatives describing this developers challenge and privacy/security/safety issues (held on September 20, 2011) can be viewed here:



The following organizations have volunteered to serve as resources for developer’s who wish to learn more about domestic violence and sexual abuse.  Some organizations could serve as partners in the development of applications; those potential collaborations should be discussed with the particular organizations of interest.

Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Carol Gundlach, Executive Director;; 334-832-4842

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV) - Betty McEntire, Training Coordinator;; 602-279-2900 ext. 409

Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Helen Jane Brown, Executive Director;; Phone:  (479) 527-0900

California Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Sandra Henriquez, Executive Director;; 916 446 2520 ext 306;

Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS) - Laura Cordes, Executive Director;; 860-282-9881

Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Noёl Sincere Duckworth, Director of Training & Prevention;; (302)658-2958;

DC Rape Crisis Center - Lois Frankel, Director of External Affairs;; 202 232 0789 ext 5086

DOVE, Inc. (DOmestic Violence Ended; based in Massachusetts) - Jennifer Yerdon, Outreach and Education Manager;; 617-770-4065 ex. 15

Florida Council Against Sexual Violence - Grace Frances ( or Micheala Denny (; (850) 297-2000

Futures Without Violence (based in SF) - Kiersten Stewart, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy;; 415-678-5500;

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Shenna Johnson, MCJ, Community Resource Coordinator;; 404.209.0280 x. 19 (Voice/TTY);

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence - Kelly Miller, Executive Director;; 208.384.0419 ext. 306

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Sean Black;; 217-753-4117

Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Anita Carpenter;; 317-423-0233 ext 16

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence - Audra Fullerton, Communications Coordinator;; 785-232-9784;

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault - Judy Benitez,Executive Director;; 985-345-5995 

The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (Jane Doe Inc.,) - Toni K. Troop, Director of Communications;; 617-248-0922;

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Elizabeth Ward Saxl, Executive Director;; 207-626-0034;

Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence - Julia Colpitts, LCSW, Executive Director; 207-430-8334;

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges - Roberta (Rob) Valente, General Counsel;

National Sexual Violence Resource Center - Sally J. Laskey, Director of Special Projects;; 877.739.3895 Toll Free;

North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) - Monika Johnson Hostler, Executive Director;; 919-871-1015

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Judy Yupcavage, Communications Director;; 717-545-6400, ext. 120

RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - Jennifer Wilson March, Hotline and Affiliate Services Director;; 202-587-5351

Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center - Gail Abarbanel, Director;; 310-319-4503

Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Deborah DeBare, Executive Director; (401) 467-9940 ext. 107;

Sexual Assault Network of Delaware (SAND) - M. Deanee’ Moran, Director;; 302-472-1843

South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) - Pamela Jacobs, Executive Director;; (803) 256-2900

Tennessee Coalition To End Domestic and Sexual Violence - Kathy Walsh, Executive Director;; (615) 386-9406;

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence - Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director;; (802) 223-1302 x 102

Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Kelly Moe Litke;; 608-257-1516

Witness Justice - Helga Luest, Founder/President & CEO;; 301-846-9110



Dr. Audie A. Atienza

Dr. Audie A. Atienza
Senior Health Technology Advisor, HHS

Dr. Sonja Batten

Dr. Sonja Batten
VACO Office of Mental Health Services

Mr. Arnaub Chatterjee

Mr. Arnaub Chatterjee
Special Assistant to the CTO, HHS

Dr. Greg Downing

Dr. Greg Downing
Senior Advisor, HHS

Ms. Elizabeth Kittrie

Ms. Elizabeth Kittrie
Senior Policy Analyst, HHS

Ms. Janhavi Kirtane

Ms. Janhavi Kirtane
Director, Clinical Transformation, HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Ms. Allison Randall

Ms. Allison Randall
Office on Violence Against Women, Dept of Justice

Dr. Abdul Shaikh

Dr. Abdul Shaikh
Behavioral Scientist, NIH

Dr. Andra Tharp

Dr. Andra Tharp
Health Scientist, Division of Violence Prevention, CDC

Ms. Shawndell Dawson

Ms. Shawndell Dawson
Program Specialist, Family Violence Prevention & Services Program, ACF/HHS

Judging Criteria

  • 1a) Real-time check-in
    The application/prototype should allow users to designate “trusted friends/allies/emergency contacts” and provide a means for checking-in directly with these individual in real-time. Mobile app may be particularly useful.
  • 1b) Privacy, Security, Safety:
    The app/prototype should address privacy/security/safety issues explicitly (for users, trusted friends, and bystanders). The ability for users to utilize the app discreetly in threatening situations or “disguises” the intent to contact others is important
  • 1c) Connection to DV resources:
    The application/prototype should enable speedy access to reputable domestic violence and sexual assault resources (websites, hotlines, chats, etc.) and allow for users to refer others to those resources as circumstances demand.
  • 1d) Social media integration
    Connection or integration of the application/prototype to existing and new social media, including campus resources, is a option that should be considered. It could allow users to identify themselves as people who stand up against violence and abuse.
  • 2. Innovativeness
    Each entry will be rated for the degree of new thinking and creativity it brings to applications focusing on the prevention of violence and abuse among young adults.
  • 3. Usability
    Each entry will be rated on its user-friendliness and interactive capabilities.
  • 4. Potential Impact
    Each entry will be rated on the strength of its potential to help college students and young adults learn about and prevent violence and assault from occurring.

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