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The San Francisco Bay Area has the largest concentration of high-tech companies in the US, yet comprises of one of the country's largest homeless populations. Inadequate access to clean water and sanitation puts this unsheltered community at a higher health risk. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, these already existing issues have been put under a magnifying lens. The @UNLEASHlab #UNLEASHHACKS are localized hackathons working to solve challenges around the #SDGs.

In the USA, we will be focusing on SDG 11 and SDG 6.

Learn more at !

(This page is managed by UNLEASH Alums and Hack hosts)


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What is UNLEASH?

UNLEASH is a global initiative committed to bringing the world’s top talents together to share ideas, build networks, and create solutions to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals. UNLEASH brings together young people from across the world for an annual innovation lab, organizes local hacks, and supports ongoing capacity building and solution implementation. 


Since 2017, UNLEASH has run three annual Innovation Labs in Denmark, Singapore and China. UNLEASH has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential sustainability brands, having engaged 3,000 talents from 160 countries and facilitated the development of 580 SDG solutions with +300 partners.


In the USA UNLEASH HACK 2020, we will be focusing on SDG 11 and SDG 6.

Focus Areas    


In recent years, job growth has outpaced housing availability.

From 2011 to 2017, 658,000 jobs were added while only 140,000 new housing units were added.

Workforce & Economic Development

In 2014, over 37% of San Francisco households were considered

housing-burdened, or spent over 30% of their income on housing.

Of this 37%, most households fall below $50,000 annual income.

Water &

A single-night count conducted in CA in  2018 showed that approximately 65% of homeless surveyed lacked access to clean water.

Emergency Response & Preparedness

During the COVID Pandemic, California introduced Project Roomkey, a program in which cities lease hotel rooms as a means to providing shelter for homeless populations. As of June 29th, San Francisco had leased around 2,400 rooms and had filled around 70%, with funding dwindling quickly.

Public Health

 Individuals experiencing chronic homelessness are disproportionately unsheltered, suffer from disabling conditions, and are high users of multiple systems (including the medical system, mental health system, and substance use system).

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Do I apply as a team or an individual?

Participants must apply individually. Teams will be formed prior to the hack based on the skills and backgrounds provided in the applications at the time of submission. Participants will work as part of the assigned team for the duration of the Hack.


Do I need to have prior experience in the specific hack topic or with the innovation process?

While familiarity and experience with the topic is a plus, it is not required in order to apply. Prior knowledge of the UNLEASH structured innovation process is not required. 


Does it cost anything to apply or attend the UNLEASH USA Hack?

No, it costs nothing to apply or attend the UNLEASH USA Hack. If selected, participants will only need access to a computer and internet for the weekend.


Do I need to be a current or former resident of the Bay Area in order to apply for the UNLEASH USA Hack?

No, you do not need to be a current or former resident of the Bay Area  in order to apply. Participants from across North America are welcome to apply.

Partnerships & Opportunities


Are there partnership and/or sponsorship opportunities for this event? 

Absolutely! We are interested in partnering with organizations that share our hope of providing tangible and meaningful solutions to our community. Please email with “Partnership” somewhere in the subject line. We would love to schedule a time to speak with you. 

During the Hack


Will I meet my team prior to the actual hack? 

Participants will be provided the opportunity to meet their team members prior to the hack. 

What tools do I need to participate in the Hack?

Given software and platform limitations, we recommend you use your PC or laptop during the 2 days of the Hack. Dialing in from your phone will take away from the visual content and your ability to partake in the event. 

You should also have relatively stable internet connectivity in order to ensure that your participation with your team members is as frictionless as possible.

How much time should I expect to dedicate to the Hack over the weekend of October 10-11th?

The formal program will run approximately 8:30 am PDT to 7:00 pm PDT on the 10th and the 11th. After the scheduled programming, online collaboration tools will be kept available if participants would like to continue working. More information on the exact times will be released to accepted participants closer to the event.

What does a “Problem-Solving” hack mean? 

Problem-Solving is arguably the most important part of the structured innovation process. Participants will investigate homelessness in the Bay Area by framing and researching the issues surrounding the community. Participants will dive deep to develop solutions anchored in their well-rounded understanding of the problem. Learn more about UNLEASH here.

More Questions? 

Please feel free to shoot us an email

Resource HUB

On June 18, 2019 - 36 San Francisco Chronicle

journalists spread across the city to document a typical 24-hour period on the streets of SF in the lives of homeless, witnessing an unrelenting cycle of striving and suffering, of some people finding their footing and others falling through.

UNLEASH Hacks USA in collaboration with SDG Talks presents a mini-series around homelessness
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