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HACK Baltimore, using technology to solve city challenges, will open headquarters at Power Plant Live

Dionne Joyner-Weems, left, and Delali Dzirasa, center, are co-chairs of HACK Baltimore, an effort to connect tech experts with residents, agencies and community groups to develop solutions for some of the city’s challenges. They are shown here with Yair Flicker at the HACK Baltimore launch party in February at Spark Baltimore. - Original Credit:
Dionne Joyner-Weems, left, and Delali Dzirasa, center, are co-chairs of HACK Baltimore, an effort to connect tech experts with residents, agencies and community groups to develop solutions for some of the city’s challenges. They are shown here with Yair Flicker at the HACK Baltimore launch party in February at Spark Baltimore. - Original Credit: (Sloane Brown/HANDOUT)

HACK Baltimore, a nonprofit using technology to address workforce development, health disparities, digital inequality and other city challenges, will open a headquarters at Power Plant Live at the Inner Harbor in the coming year.

Developer The Cordish Cos. will contribute to the nonprofit’s mission by donating the downtown office space at 616 Water St., which includes team meeting rooms, collaboration areas, private rooms for videoconferences and a kitchenette.

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HACK Baltimore was founded earlier this year by Delali Dzirasa, CEO of software firm Fearless, to connect tech experts with residents, agencies and community groups to propose and oversee long-term solutions for some of the city’s biggest challenges. The effort is being led by Dzirasa and Dionne Joyner-Weems as co-chairs.

“If we do not find a way to come together as a community, it means the downfall of Baltimore,” said Joyner-Weems, a West Baltimore native and Morgan State University graduate who serves as chief energy officer of the consulting firm Audacity Group.

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Cordish has agreed to provide HACK Baltimore 3,800 square feet rent-free for two years starting in 2021, though no opening date has been set. The nonprofit, working with community groups and civic agencies, also will have access to Spark, a collaborative workspace for technology startups also in the Power Plant Live entertainment venue, where Fearless is a tenant.

Reed Cordish, a Cordish principal, said the landlord is donating the space to support “tech innovation and entrepreneurship in helping Baltimore’s ecosystem grow.”

HACK Baltimore plans to use the space to host meet-ups and design and rapid response sessions, give volunteers space to work and showcase the nonprofit’s work.

The nonprofit, formed just before the outbreak of the coronavirus this year, has been working virtually. It will start out following COVID-19 safety restrictions at the new office space, but plans to eventually host larger gatherings when it is safe to do so.

“We realized that even in a post-COVID world, we will have to have both a physical and virtual space,” Dzirasa said.

So far this year, HACK has worked with groups such as Dent Education, Code in the Schools, Digital Equity Coalition, Code for Baltimore, Baltimore’s Promise, the Mayor’s Office for Children & Families, and the Baltimore City Health Department.

It also partnered with Emerging Technology Centers on its AccelerateBaltimore program, helping entrepreneurs who are tackling civic challenges gain access to capital and business development.

Separately, a tech incubator called Hutch, founded by Dzirasa, announced that it graduated five Black-owned startups from its 24-month program for building digital service firms focused on civic technology.

The firms include XCell, a digital design firm in the Washington area; Ey3 Technologies, a cybersecurity firm in Upper Marlboro; MASTERMND, a technical talent firm in Baltimore; INSHIFT, a digital services firm in D.C; and UpLight, a project and IT management firm in Baltimore.

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