04/21/2011 02:12 pm ET Updated Jun 21, 2011

DonorsChoose Invites Developers and Data Analysts To Hack Its Data

Who has the ultimate solution for bridging the gaps in education funding?

Computer hackers, maybe.

The education donation site, DonorsChoose, believes it's worth a try. The organization is releasing its data to developers and data analysts for a new competition.

The new contest, called Hacking Education: A Contest for Developers and Data Crunchers, inviteS contestants to use DonorsChoose's data to create new analyses or apps for their website. The charity website hopes to gain insight on how to expand and further promote their work.

DonorsChoose offers some suggested approaches on the competition's site:

About 2 percent of visitors to make a donation. What can the other 98 percent of visitors do for fun?

The competition will have seven different categories: Data Analysis, JavaScript, .NET, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Wildcard. A grand prize will be chosen from the winners in each category.

Judges for the grand prize include former NYC schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Teach for America's Wendy Kopp and HuffPost's own Arianna Huffington. The first place winner will be awarded a trophy by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert along with four tickets to a taping of the Colbert Report.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, this is the first contest to put into practice ideas conceived at a Microsoft-sponsored "social hackathon."

Launched in Brooklyn in 2000, allows teachers to post fundraising projects for their schools. The site's visitors can choose to donate to the specific projects they wish to support.

In just over a decade of operation, DonorsChoose has shown tremendous success. Since its inception the website has received posts from over 165,000 teachers from more than 43,000 public schools to fund over 300,000 projects. In all, about $80 million has been raised from over 400,000 donors.

Now the nonprofit wants to use the same crowd-sourcing technique to reach hackers and developers, who might help carry the site to the next level of education fundraising.

"We see the availability of our API and the opening up of all this data as perhaps the next big leap, as we hope to "crowd-source" to the developer and data cruncher communities the next wave of big ideas for engaging the public and impacting education!" said CTO Oliver Hurst-Hiller.

The site is making public over 10 years' worth of data for this competition.

For more information visit