About the Hackathon
What is VHacks?
VHacks is the first-ever hackathon organized by the Vatican in Rome. Last year in March, 120 students from universities and faiths from all around the world came together for a weekend of innovation and project creation in March 2018. This year, VHacks will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Who is organizing VHacks?
VHacks is organized by OPTIC as well as students from Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and the Catholic University of America. OPTIC is an organization founded in 2012 dedicated to research and innovation regarding the ethics of new and disruptive technologies. OPTIC has organized hackathons before in both San Francisco and Paris. Learn more about the student organizers on the Who We Are page.
How can I apply to VHacks?
Applications have not yet opened for VHacks 2019. We recommend that interested applicants subscribe to our newsletter for updates.
What is the mission of the hackathon?
VHacks seeks to utilize technological innovation to overcome social barriers, embrace common values, and catalyze sustainable impact ventures. Our mission is threefold:
  • Encourage young people around the world to use technology and innovation to address local social, environmental and economic issues.
  • Leverage technology to address current global problems centered on hackathon themes.
  • Promote collaboration among youth leaders across diverse academic, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
What are the thematic areas of the hackathon?
The three theme areas are (1) the environment, (2) public health, (3) education. To promote fairness, topics within these defined categories will be assigned to teams before they arrive at The Vatican.
Who can take part in VHacks?
All currently-enrolled university students in any degree program in any university are eligible to apply to VHacks.
How are winners determined?
A panel of experienced professionals across tech companies and Vatican institutions will judge teams based on 1) creativity 2) potential impact 3) feasibility 4) relevance to the topics provided and 5) technological innovation.
Where and when will the hackathon take place?
VHacks will take place in Nairobi, Kenya in August 2019.
What is the hourly schedule for VHacks?
The detailed schedule will be announced approximately a month before the event.
Will travel, housing, etc. be paid for for the participants?
VHacks will cover hotel accommodations, meals during the event, and transportation to the hackathon venue from hotels. However, booking flights to and from Nairobi will be the responsibility of attendees or their universities. Need-based financial aid will be available to participants on a case-by-case basis.
Participation Requirements and Application
Who is qualified to participate?
All prospective attendees must be enrolled in a university or community college program at the time of the hackathon. Attendees must also be at least 18 years old by the start of the hackathon to attend. Attendees must be fluent in English.
Do I have to be Catholic to participate?
No. We are looking for the brightest students regardless of religious background. We welcome students of all faiths to participate in VHacks.
Do I need a passport or visa?
All students traveling internationally will require a passport that has been valid for at least 6 months and a visa to enter Kenya.

You can apply for and obtain a visa either before takeoff or upon arrival at the Kenyan airport. We recommend you do this before arrival to minimize waiting time. You can apply for single entry visas on the evisas website. For more information on different types of visas, see the website of the Kenya High Commission.
MLH Code of Conduct
Copyright 2017. VHacks