How a group of Hack Reactor grads are supporting a youth-led nonprofit organization

From New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Colombia, and beyond, a group of recent Beginner Coding Bootcamp graduates came together to accomplish an admirable post-program goal: to create and launch a website for Move Network International (MNI), a youth-led nonprofit organization in Uganda.

Grad Emily Arai had a prior connection to MNI founder Derick Ongeiwun, and when she found out the organization needed a functional website to further its mission by raising awareness and funds, she thought of her bootcamp cohort. They’d graduated just one week prior, and she’d grown close to many of them. She reached out to see if anyone was interested in joining a team to tackle this project with her.

“There was a group of us in the bootcamp that had always gone to a breakout room together,” she said. “We’d been talking about looking for a project that we could do together to continue building our skills and getting job ready. When this idea came up, I went to them first.”

Multiple graduates joined, inspired by both the mission of the organization and the ability to continue learning together. In a few months, they successfully launched MNI’s new website.

Overall goal: Furthering MNI’s mission

Move Network International aims to relieve pregnant adolescents and teenage mothers in Uganda from generational cycles of poverty, illiteracy, mental illness, and early marriage, among other issues. MNI helps in a variety of ways, including the Girl Space program, which aims for holistic support through education, small groups, healthcare assistance, financial support, and more. The organization also offers its Speak Out program to provide comprehensive career guidance initiatives like counseling and mentorship.

“MNI provides a fresh start, empowering pregnant youth and young mothers to do things that others around them may be telling them they can’t do,” said Emily. “It was very important to me, and to our group, to use the new skills that we have – like the ability to deploy websites – to help MNI get more visibility.”

Donate to MNI here

Group member Paula Mejia was especially inspired by MNI’s work with teen mothers, who she noted are often stigmatized to such a degree that they can’t pursue schooling, literacy, careers, and so much more in life.

“MNI’s mission is amazing and we wanted to give them the greatest opportunity to continue to do their work and do even more work on the ground,” she said.

How the team worked together to launch MNI’s new site

To bring this website to life, the group organized itself like a real-world software development team, with group members acting as everything from project managers to developers and even designers. It was a from-scratch project that was challenging and provided space to gain valuable experience.

“This was a great opportunity for us to develop our skills and to work as a team. We did our best to simulate a professional working environment,” said Paula. “We did regular standups, we figured out our Git flow, how to merge conflicts, and a lot more to make sure this project could work.”

According to group member Sam Shenker, working on this project reinforced just how important good leadership skills and teamwork are in software development. He admired the organization of the group as they worked together to plan, divide tasks, and meet deadlines along the way. He was able to use skills and tools learned in the beginner bootcamp to push himself as a member of the team.

“We talked a lot about creating the workflow itself and approaching the project from an Agile perspective,” he said. “I feel like I used a ton of tools I learned in the bootcamp, and that was instrumental. We all wanted to push forward and do more than what we did in the bootcamp, too. We wanted to try things that we hadn’t done before.”

That mentality comes from the bootcamp, as well, according to group member Shaun Ragasa. It’s all about leaning into the discomfort rather than shying away from it.

“This project helped me realize that what we learned in the bootcamp, about how we should feel comfortable being uncomfortable, means that we shouldn’t be afraid to try out new technologies and try out new responsibilities. It’s been good to see where that approach can get you,” he said.

Paula added that all of the “hacking and slashing our way through [course] problems during the Hack Reactor experience” served the group well during this project as they navigated new terrain together.

And according to Emily, part of that navigation involved getting familiar with each other’s strengths and leaning on them to reach their overall goal.

“We were able to leverage everyone’s strengths to make something that none of us could’ve made on our own,” she said. “We were learning to communicate and figure things out on the fly while also working to be kind and professional and creating a really positive working environment. It wasn’t always easy, but I think we did a really good job handling the challenge.”

Group member Diana Angarita hopes that with the website now live, it will mean immediate results for MNI’s fundraising goals.

“It feels good to see our work out there, and it’s exciting to finally launch because the hope is that MNI will start getting more donations to help their cause,” she said.

Sam also noted a feeling of accomplishment achieved by creating something that anyone can access and use.

“I’m really proud, and I feel empowered,” he said. “We can create something and change something for this organization…something that everybody in the whole world can see with just a few keystrokes.”

Looking forward: Future work with MNI

While the website was launched successfully, the group’s work together is not done. They hope to implement a backend portion of the website so that members of the team in Uganda can create blog posts and update the site on their own when desired. Diana also has hopes for a future online store where visitors can purchase branded merchandise that might help further promote and raise money for MNI.

So the work will continue but in a different form. The team will adjust their workflow to be more asynchronous moving forward, as some start new software engineering jobs and others continue their job searches.

“We’re moving into a less time-consuming phase now, and I’m sure it’ll take us a little bit to get into a good, new flow,” said Emily. “It’ll be another organizational thing we’ll figure out as we go.”

As they transition into this new phase, Paula reflected on the group’s collective growth and lasting connection through it all.

“Our bootcamp cohort had a super positive environment. Pretty much everyone was willing to learn, was humble, and was also willing to teach,” she said. “I think that’s why a project like this could happen because all of us really got along. I really am super grateful for this community.”


Learn more about Move Network International (MNI)‘s work, and support their life-saving and life-enriching efforts here.

And if you’re interested in learning more about our Beginner Coding Bootcamps, check out our full-time program and part-time program