September 20-22, 2019


Events / Cleveland 2019


Have you ever wanted to be a part of the solution for issues in your community? Have you ever had an idea to solve those issues?

GiveBackHack is your next step – up to $7,500 (brought to us by the Cleveland Foundation) will be awarded to the top ideas coming out of the event! Attend to partner up with the community and find the resources to make ideas into a reality.

Friday, passionate community members (that’s you!) pitch innovative ideas to solve the most pressing social issues in Cleveland. Saturday, participants form teams and build upon ideas for a sustainable, technology-based business. Sunday night, teams will pitch to a panel of judges for the opportunity to earn funding, mentorship and other resources to move forward with their solution.

Your ticket for the weekend includes:

  • Meals all weekend
  • GiveBackHack t-shirt
  • Surprises and swag from our sponsors and community partners
  • Mentorship by local social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, venture capitalists, tech execs and more
  • An opportunity to change your community for the better.

Stay in touch!

Moving forward, we at GiveBackHack want to help teams succeed. If you were on a GiveBackHack Cleveland 2019 team and need help, or you or someone you know want to help, send an email to

Check out GiveBackHack Cleveland 2019 Overview to see how it went!

Also check this article on  GiveBackHack Cleveland 2019 Winner Spotlight: Project ADAM


Friday - September 20

Doors Open
Dinner & networking (don't miss this!)
Friday night begins! We'll cover everything you need to know, let you pitch, vote on top ideas & form teams for the weekend
Wrap up!
Facilities close

Saturday - September 21

Doors open & breakfast to start the day!
Morning business/mentors arrive
Community updates - circle up and discuss progress
Afternoon Mentors arrive
Wrap up!
Facilities close

Sunday September 22

Doors open + breakfast to start the day
Business/mentors arrive + community updates
Pitch practice and presentation tech check
Final Presentations Begin
Judging and awards
Wrap up and celebrate
Facilities close


Bob Sopko

Director of Launchnet, Case Western Reserve University

Bob Sopko is Director of Case Western Reserve University Launchnet where he guides students and alumni to analyze and bring their business ideas to market. He joined CWRU 15 years ago to lead Strategic Technology Partnerships, working with Dell, Apple, Google, AT&T, etc. He is an Entrepreneur in Residence at Jumpstart and the Youngstown Business Incubator.  Bob also has assisted the top level ... Read More »

Ed Buchholz

Founder and CEO, ExpenseBot

Ed is founder of three venture-backed software companies and has more than nineteen years startup experience with several exits. He is deeply passionate about enabling class mobility through entrepreneurship and believes in empowering through equity, inclusion, & transparency.

Ed founded and leads StartInCLE, an award-winning community organization and economic development initiative. ... Read More »

Mai Moore

Founder and Executive Director, EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice

Mai Moore is the Founder and Executive Director of non-profit: EYEJ: Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice ( established in 2013. Mai also has 20-years’ experience in marketing specifically in the tech industry helping companies such as Travelzoo Inc. and United Online directly go public. Mai has a deep passion for empowering people, bridging worlds together and developing start-ups.

Douglas Craver

Director of Operations, Assurant Labs

Hyper-focus on Hiring Right, Managing Risk, and Reducing Waste for the startups/ESVs Doug works in, coaches, advises and invests in. 2 tech exits, one in 2014 and the other in 2016 + too many failures to list. Working on a three-peat. Creating value by sharing his knowledge and building ventures with smart people. International experience working with founders and their startups from India to South ... Read More »


Evelyn Burnett

Co-Founder & Partner at ThirdSpace Action Lab

Evelyn Burnett is a co-founder and partner of the ThirdSpace Action Lab and Third Space Café. Prior to this exciting venture, Evelyn served as Vice President, Economic Opportunity at Cleveland Neighborhood Progress an intermediary whose mission is to foster communities of choice and opportunity throughout Cleveland. Prior to joining CNP, Evelyn served as Associate Director for Program Strategies with ... Read More »

Don Firca

Patent Attorney, Cooper Legal Group

Don Firca is a seasoned patent attorney with significant experience handling patent preparation and prosecution in the electrical, computer, chemical, and software related arts. Don also has experience with licensing, strategic IP counseling, IP related contract matters, and opinion work.

Don received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 2006 and his Bachelor of Science ... Read More »

Beth Callam Software Developer, CoverMyMeds at GiveBackHack

Beth Callam

Software Developer, CoverMyMeds

Beth is a software developer with a background in non-profit work. At CoverMyMeds, she is focused on bringing value to pharmacists’ workflows and empowering patients to live healthier lives. She also has experience as a hackathon attendee and worked as an engineer for a project born out of GiveBackHack Columbus.

Joshua Kruszynski

Product Designer, Complion

Joshua Kruszynski does product work for Complion. He is a board member for Rust Belt Riders and an organizer for Design Breakfast.

Dave Shah

Software Engineer, Product Builder & Human High-Five Dispenser, CoverMyMeds

Dave is a software engineer trying to make the world a better place with every push to production.

He's served in a number of technical and leadership roles and gravitates towards test-driven development, continuous improvement, and has way too much fun learning & sharing new ways to make himself and his teammates better developers and better leaders.

Currently Building ... Read More »

Andrew Sobotka

Director of Technology, JAC Creative

Andrew is the creative problem solver and tech support manager of the group at JAC Creative. He's worked with countless systems and web languages as he continues to stay up-to-date. With his clever wit and mega-computer brain, he can find a solution to any marketing, visual, or programming need.

Victoria Avi

Program Manager, CWRU LaunchNET, Case Western Reserve University

Victoria Avi is a transplant from Azerbaijan. Her family moved to the US in ‘97. Cleveland is her new and forever home. She’s had the honor and the pleasure to work with and to learn from some of the best sustainability pros in Cleveland and the nation. Currently, Victoria is managing Case Western Reserve's LaunchNET. She previously managed the Sustainable Business Center at CSU and teaching MBAs ... Read More »

Pauly Suchy

Business Director, BioflightVR

Pauly is a sustainability and purpose-driven founder and cheerleader to entrepreneurs in Ohio, NYC, and Latin America. He is currently pioneering a VR poverty simulation with his team at BioflightVR, working with two non-profits called Mobility and Flux Makerspace and building a blockchain application called truthbit. He also co-organizers the Cleveland VR Meetup, serves on the startup advisory node ... Read More »

Jillian Nichols

Engineer at Spotify

Jillian is a Cleveland area native and a recent “boomerang” after having lived in NYC for nearly a decade. While in NYC, she began working as an engineer for Spotify, and continues to do so remotely from the Cleveland area today. At Spotify, Jillian primarily focuses on maintaining a design system, which enables her peers to ship a cohesive user experience with speed and confidence.

Megan Butcher

Director, Fowler Center

Megan Buchter is the Director of the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She helps in advancing the strategic priorities of the Fowler Center in the areas of research, education, and applied work with local, national, and global companies. Megan is passionate about education and helping students to see themselves ... Read More »

Evan Anger

Lead Application Programmer, Progressive Insurance

Evan is a mobile application progammer and the iOS application owner at Progressive Insurance. He helped bring Progressive's mobile app into existence and has continued work on it since. Due to the wide varities of systems the Progressive mobile app utilizes, Evan is very well rounded in many technologies from back-end to front-end.


Michael Goldberg

Associate Professor, Department of Design and Innovation, Case Western Reserve University

Michael Goldberg is an experienced venture capitalist and international business leader whose teaching is focused on the fields of entrepreneurship and early stage finance.
Goldberg is an Associate Professor of Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.
Goldberg created a massive open online course (MOOC) called Beyond Silicon Valley: ... Read More »

Event Sponsors


Feras Deiratany is an Application Programmer at Progressive Insurance in Cleveland, with a Computer Science and Engineering degree from The Ohio State University. He is a member of the Cleveland Hub of the Global Shapers community, an international initiative of the World Economic Forum. His first participation in GiveBackHack sparked his interest in the event when he saw the impact it created within ... Read More »

Daoning Zhou's passion is in elevating businesses through aligning the business's strategy, processes, and people. He believes that as a tool, business and innovation can be harnessed to create a better world. He has three principles to social innovation: start with why; lead with people; and support with data.

Peter Grapentien is an iOS and Android developer for Progressive Insurance. Before picking up coding as a career, he taught English as a Second Language at Kent State and worked for various nonprofits including the now deceased Flyover Country Review magazine. As a former attendee of GiveBackHack in 2017, Pete’s excited to contribute to this year’s GBH and hopefully make it the best one yet.

Joshua Su takes social good seriously, as that is his motivation in everything that he does. Coming from Wesleyan University, where he launched a non-profit for diversity and inclusion in tech and entrepreneurship, he balances the intricacies of data, health, and innovation passionately. Joshua has a background in non-profit finance, data analytics, and health. In his downtime, you might see him playing ... Read More »

Anastasia Rokisky is a Business Systems Analyst at The Riverside Company with an education in biochemistry and linguistics. She is a member of the World Economic Forum's community of Global Shapers here in Cleveland and a research assistant for TimeZero Enterprises (a local consultancy which views enterprises as "emerging flourishing ecosystems.") She's a systems-thinker that subscribes to the notion ... Read More »

In the 6-7 years of his professional career, Sid has been involved with two start-ups, a traditional manufacturing business, a tech-based MNC, and a non-profit. By observing and absorbing different dynamics in the workforce, he aims to fulfill any project through immense versatility.

Alex is a Financial Analyst at Cardinal Health.  Outside of her day job, you can find her running or biking in the Cleveland Metroparks or teaching exercise classes in the community.  Alex’s passion for social impact led her to help organize as well as participate in GiveBackHack in Columbus in 2018, and she is excited to help organize GiveBackHack in Cleveland this year!

Michael is an iOS Developer at Sherwin-Williams. He is passionate about making technology more accessible to both those who consume as well as build it. Outside of work, Michael participates in and helps organize various tech meetups in the Cleveland area.

Robert is a Mobile Developer at Progressive Insurance. Outside of work, Robert finds joy producing music or traveling to new places. Robert first participated in GiveBackHack Cleveland 2017, returned for 2018, and now helping organize GiveBackHack Cleveland this year!

Pre-submitted Ideas

Submit your Idea 

  • 1. OD Greens submitted by Don Tobul

    OD GreensSubmitted by Don Tobul

    What is the problem are you solving?

    OD Greens aims to address two problems:
    There are no workplace training facilities that are operated by other veterans. Transitioning service members will find adaptable and scalable work functions in an environment that is highly structured and veteran-centric!

    The byproduct of our work allows us to provide hyperlocal, hydroponic, pesticide free produce to the surroundings communities.

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    As a combat veteran, former physics and chemistry teacher, and licensed professional mental health counselor, I am uniquely qualified to assist disabled veterans in their transition by teaching them the skills they need in order to better understand their barriers and limitations.

    Furthermore, OD Greens over the past year has demonstrated market viability with the hydroponic produce component. With one full time farmer and a part time farmhand, we have been able to provide 3 high end restaurants with produce and have also sold remaining produce through online sales and at farmers markets. Our produce has been called some of the best around and that it’s freshness is without comparison. Since the produce is hyperlocal, we deliver the day of harvest and minimize transportation costs.

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    The primary mission of OD Greens is to provide workplace training and mental health services to disabled veterans to assist them in their transition back to civilian life. We use vertical hydroponic farming as platform to support this training. OD Greens has been producing lettuce, herbs, and specialty greens since January 2019, and will look to incorporate the counseling services beginning January 2020.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    As a combat veteran, vocational rehabilitation counselor, and mental health counselor, my education and work experience place me in a position to serve the veteran population and effectively build rapport to further assist in their transition.

    While my areas of expertise is in counseling and the sciences I have no experience in running a business. I have worked with SCORE to assist me in filling these gaps and have 3 mentors presently. Their help has been invaluable to this point.

    In order to continue moving forward to incorporate the workplace training and counseling services, I will need assistance with locating a facility, assistance with basic business finance, and help building social media and web presence.

  • 2. Undercover Acro submitted by Kimmi Schonhorst

    Undercover AcroSubmitted by Kimmi Schonhorst

    What is the problem are you solving?

    Sexual violence. One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Educational programs have not been successful, and one reason is because educational programs do not provide opportunities to put the theories into practice.

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    I plan to teach Acro and Consent workshops to not only educate, but also practice communication skills around consent. Acro (AKA partner acrobatics or acro yoga) is a very physical sport that requires trust and communication between partners. My students will practice: asking for permission before touching someone, stating their own boundaries, listening to other people's boundaries, hearing and responding to "no" appropriately, and realizing that no one is entitled to any physical act that involves another person's body (sexual or not).

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    I have taught one pro-bono Acro and Consent class to a group of 11 8th graders. It went over really well with them, although they were the perfect candidates bc they have already received a lot of diversity training. The challenges I am facing include building credibility as a consent workshop and making connections with schools. This weekend I hope to figure out different business/funding models - creative ways to make this a sustainable venture.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    I have a background in sexual violence prevention (worked in the women's resource center throughout college), but could always use more help in this arena. I also am a certified Acro and Social Justice instructor. I have experience working with youth (I was a camp counselor for a couple years). I am an alumni of an entrepreneurship fellowship program called Venture for America. I could use help with the business/finance side and with building a website.

  • 3. Corredor submitted by Karishma Bali

    CorredorSubmitted by Karishma Bali

    What is the problem are you solving?

    Safety, quality, and pedestrian traffic for international runners

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    Providing a trustworthy network of global runners

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    Beta/prototype slide deck of mobile application

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    “As a woman in her twenties, I have most definitely caught the running bug. Having run two marathons, I long to complete 26 marathons in my lifetime. 2018 was a busy year, and I was unsure if I would be able to run my third race this past year. After temporarily relocating to Spain, I made it a priority in my schedule to train for race number three before the year ended. Initially, training was very difficult. I would have to stop frequently because I would get caught in pedestrian traffic in Barcelona. Frustrated, I did not have a reliable platform to know where or what times were best to schedule my runs. As a woman new to a city, I was also reluctant to venture off into new trails or pathways because of safety concerns. Being familiar with the running world, I knew there is a large community out there and I wondered what I could do to help and create such a platform. With that, the innovation of the mobile application Corredor was inspired.”

  • 4. Have a Hive submitted by Trent Balduff

    Have a HiveSubmitted by Trent Balduff

    What is the problem are you solving?

    Saving the Bees

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    This idea is uniquely positioned to do so because of the fact that it integrates beekeeping into communities through community supported apiaries. We also intend on disrupting the beekeeping industry by essentially 'uberizing' beekeeping

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    I have vetted this idea by beta testing it for 12 months. It is a true social enterprise and is nearing a phase where funding is needed. This Give Back Hack seems like a perfect opportunity to develop the go to market strategy and work with other individuals who are passionate about the environment.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    I have kept bees for 3 years, was appointed as the Richland County Apiarist, and have a BA in Public Relations Communication. The people that would be greatly helpful would be individuals with skills in the field of content creation and operations management.

  • 5. VOL submitted by Cameron Tolbert

    VOLSubmitted by Cameron Tolbert

    What is the problem are you solving?

    Loving, caring, and dedicated people volunteer, and across Cleveland this year more than 100,000 individuals will choose to spend their time helping their neighbors. This is wonderful, but this community of volunteers is dispersed and the result is that the impact that community of volunteers will have is a fraction of its potential.

    What if we unlock that potential? What if we built a platform that supported our cities social heros? What if we made a social network of dedicated volunteers that spanned across the county? What if we allowed nonprofits to tap into this network and find specific volunteers with skill sets they are looking to recruit?

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    Made for adults and retirees. VOL is an app meant to provide a dedicated platform for volunteers to form communities, manage their volunteer experiences, and engage with nonprofit organizations based on their interests and availability.

    As a company, we are a team of dedicated individuals supporting the operations of nonprofits, and improving citywide volunteerism rates with strong advertising and marketing campaigns. We believe whole-heartedly in the power of community and work to uphold the values of personal privacy, ethics, diversity, and patriotism.

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    I have spoken to a few non-profit organizations, placed at two school-wide competitions, and created a very rough wire-frame.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    My talents are split between a relentless passion to rethink voluntarism, and a deep-seated desire to learn and adapt. I have a drive to hustle and the conscientiousness to persist, and the wisdom to pivot intelligently.

    I do not pretend to know what I do not, but I will learn. At the moment, I require help in: Software Development, Human Resourcing, UI design, Market Research, Monetization Strategy, Financial Management, and Legal Advising.

    A Co-founder would be nice, but I want to build a company of like-minded people who discover and pursue issues that change the way we live, and so any Co-founder would need to understand this venture is a long-haul that requires risk and risk management.

  • 6. Smart, Adaptive Room Lighting submitted by Colb Uhlemann

    Smart, Adaptive Room LightingSubmitted by Colb Uhlemann

    What is the problem are you solving?

    According to the American Lung Association's "State of the Air" report, Cleveland has the ninth worst air quality of any city in the nation. Among the causes for this poor standing is ozone produced by coal-burning power plants. Steps to reduce energy usage will reduce demand for electricity and slow the production of polluting compounds.

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    Our project is a lighting system which maintains a desired brightness in a room using a hybrid of natural and overhead lighting. At points in the day when plenty of sunlight enters through the windows, the lights inside would compensate by dimming to the appropriate level. Conversely, the interior lights would remain on at the desired brightness during times of less sun.

    Our solution would be retrofittable; that is, it would be compatible with current electrical systems in buildings. This keeps installation costs lower and makes the system available to a wider market.

    The lighting system has a couple other noteworthy features. Its "smart" capability facilitates remote control via WiFi from anywhere in the world, allowing users to toggle the lights at any time. We also hope to implement a predictive model which learns from the user's habits and manages the lights on its own throughout the day. Lastly, the system would have a digital statistics readout summarizing energy usage and savings over a period.

    While our solution won't cut air pollution down overnight, it is uniquely positioned to chip away at the issue over time. Any user that opts into the system will be, day in and day out, contributing to the larger goal of reducing popular usage over time. In the end, our solution eliminates the redundancy between different sources and optimizes a common activity for energy conservation.

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    My team and I are students at Case Western Reserve University, and we recently developed this idea at the 12-hour CWRU WelcomeBackHack last Saturday (9/7). The project won Best in Presentation, Best in Making, and Best in Social Impact at the hackathon. This idea is still in its early stages, and, while we experienced many small successes and setbacks in the creation of our prototype, our next step is to deepen our understanding of its mission, impact, and technical requirements. That is, refine our project and iterate on past progress.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    My team currently consists of Jun Park, Nate Labrie, and myself. Allow me to briefly introduce everyone.

    Jun is a first-year computer engineering student. He has experience with several programming languages, including Angular, Java, Python, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and SQL. To date, he has handled the web interface portion of the project.

    Nate is a second-year mechanical engineering student. He specializes in modeling and making but also has experience with robotics and rocketry. Being a fairly hands-on guy, he has been responsible for the design and fabrication of our model.

    I, Colb, am a second-year electrical engineering student. I have project experience in several fields of tinkering, but my main interest is hardware. I've been handling the electronics for the project, including microcontroller programming, wiring, testing, and soldering. I can program in Arduino, Java, and Python, and I have lots of expertise in 3D design and printing.

    Beyond the three of us, we could benefit from an IoT expert and monetization strategist. While we were able to put together a prototype for the hackathon, we have much to learn about common practice in developing our product. Also, our group generally lacks entrepreneurial experience and would need guidance creating a business model.

  • 7. Parents in Motion submitted by Chanel Williams

    Parents in MotionSubmitted by Chanel Williams

    What is the problem are you solving?

    Affordable and safe transportation for children and low income families.

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    This idea will solve the need for low income families for safe, affordable rides. What is unique about this solution is that it will work on a 2 for 1 ratio system, that will enable families to use more rides than they use.

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    We are generating revenue and picking up steam, demand is growing.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    I am uniquely in this position to solve this problem because I came from low income/blue collar with transportation needs. I saw first hand the difference maker it was to be able to take advantage of extracurricular activities and opportunities. I still see this with non-profits like Tech Corp, that teach basic computer science to at-risk, those kids face many challenges just to be able to get the opportunity to learn a skill not readily available, in an environment that will enrich them academically and later, professionally. The skill that I bring to the table are tech skills and I am very passionate about taking those barriers out of the equation.
    What I need to make this happen are other tech people, designers, and people REALLY into user experience. People with connections to housing authorities or community interests that need transportation help. And we would to speak with someone in the transportation space.
    What is needed to make this happen is an online presence to gather information.

  • 8. Positive Transitioning App submitted by Lakia Goodman

    Positive Transitioning AppSubmitted by Lakia Goodman

    What is the problem are you solving?

    We are working to solve the recidivism rate in the United States and to bring our communities together.

    How will this idea solve the problem?

    This idea solves the problem by providing 24/7 resources and support to individuals returning to our communities. We will work with other nonprofit organizations as a support when their doors may not be open for service.

    Is this idea brand new or has it been partially-vetted?


    How you have vetted your idea and the success or difficulties you have seen thus far?

    Our app is already launched on the Google Play store under Positive Transitioning. We intend to continually launch with new and updated services, such as real time shelter bed availability, real time risk and needs assessments for life coaches, parole officers and others, just to name a few. One of our difficulties is marketing the app and bringing in users. We have recently relaunched a new version of the app.

    Why are YOU uniquely positioned to solve the problem? What other people do you need to help?

    Currently we have a co-founder with a background in forensic psychology that develops the programs for the organization. We have a Cpa that manages the business part of the organization and social media. Our third co-founder is a millennial graduating with a criminal justice degree.
    The additional expertise we could use are in marketing, AI technology and volunteer management. We currently also have a wide range of volunteers that help in all aspects of the business. Our nonprofit is web-based so it allows for individuals all over the world to volunteer and help support.