The 2015 Steel City Codefest. Photo by John Altdorfer.

At a recent Steel City Codefest, a team developed a web app called to help city residents navigate the complex trash and recycling schedule. Nonprofit organizations like 412 Food Rescue and Rebuilding Together Pgh have benefited from past Codefests, which give them and civic groups access to the expertise and creativity of developers to help solve problems and create solutions.

Instead of being a 24-hour, one-weekend event as it has been in past years, this year’s Steel City Codefest runs for an entire week, kicking off April 2, and will include optional evening work sessions and an expanded Steel City Codefest Jr. segment for younger would-be developers.

“We wanted to give people more flexibility to participate, more time,” says Jennifer Wilhelm, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. She and the URA have been involved with Codefest since its inception four years ago. “This is a way to engage people back into the community using their skills to make a difference.”

The citywide app-building event allows teams of participants to either build apps based on their own ideas, or choose a challenge from a local nonprofit or government agency. This year’s challenges include appeals from the Allegheny Children’s Initiative, the Children’s Museum and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Part of the City of Pittsburgh’s Inclusive Innovation Week, Steel City Codefest begins with an April 2nd kickoff event at Alloy 26 on the North Side. The work sessions will be held in the evenings at various locations, with judging, final presentations and awards at the Carnegie Library in Oakland.

Steel City Codefest was created in 2012 through a partnership between the city of Pittsburgh and Google Pittsburgh.

In addition to expanding the main event, organizers have also added to the program for Codefest Jr., open to children in grades K-12. Codefest Jr. is part of an initiative to increase digital literacy in underserved populations, and this year’s activities will include coding apps, coding games and a robotics challenge.

Registration is free, and is now open, but is limited to the first 100 people who sign up. A total of 273 people on 53 teams have participated in the past Codefest events.

For more information visit the Steel City Codefest website.

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor always on the lookout for a great story. Her experience includes writing about business, politics, and local news, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh.