Call for volunteers: mentor an Outreachy project

If you have some exciting ideas for the evolution of ODK that you’d like to see happen but can’t devote a lot of time to, read on, this could be a great opportunity to make them come to life!

Outreachy enables members of underrepresented groups to participate in open source projects. Participants are paid a stipend of $5,500 and receive a $500 travel stipend to work with a mentoring open source project for about 3 months. This helps them improve their skills and confidence and in return, mentoring projects get some useful work done. It’s similar to Google Summer of Code which has been a big success with @Shobhit_Agarwal this summer but instead of being only students, participants are often career changers or folks returning to computing after an absence. The program runs twice a year starting in May and December.

Would anyone be interested in mentoring an Outreachy participant from December to March? I would be happy to be the community organizer if there is interest. Mentoring is entirely remote and takes an estimated 5 hours a week which can be split between more than one mentor. Read more here. Responsibilities would include making sure there are small tasks available for applicants to do in September and October as well as reviewing applications, defining and scoping the project and working with the participant on a weekly basis. I can commit to helping with the application process and helping define the project.

Currently, internships are open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, they are open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

Our deadline for applying to participate is August 31st.

Outreachy projects don’t necessarily have to be programming-related. They can also include a series of loosely related tasks rather than having one single output. Here are some rough ideas:

ODK user-facing website
This could include design work, interviewing community members, information architecture, etc. It’s related to Future of new ODK web site? so @calum, @Ronald_Munjoma and others may be interested.

Reusable graphics
Flow charts, visualizations, brochures that would help with core documentation efforts and that community members would find useful for their projects. See here for an example @downey was involved in at OpenMRS.

Show off the showcase
We have a showcase but have not been able to fill it consistently with all the awesome ODK deployments out there. For this project, the Outreach intern will find ODK users, interview them, share showcases, market them on social media, and build a culture in the community around sharing cool projects.

Volunteer coordination
We've heard that it should be easier for people to discover and pitch in to help with non-coding tasks to make ODK a more productive community. The intern could help to set up and adjust current or new tools to support this process, work to get the community using them, recruit/train people to help maintain the backlog of these non-coding issues and help make sure they're getting done! Example outputs could include an “ODK Local Meetup Organizer Kit”.

Adding testing and making structural improvements to Briefcase
This might be a tricky one for someone junior to take on but with the right mentor it could be a great learning opportunity.

Improve all the docs
We’ve launched a docs effort. The Outreachy intern can pick their level of engagement. If they are mostly into writing, they can help with a Collect user guide, frequently asked questions, form design tips. If they are more on the technical side, they can help automate screenshot taking so docs ship faster. This could also include ”how-to” videos and/or screencasts.

If you have ideas for a project and/or would like to be a mentor, please comment below!


Thanks for getting this started @LN! I'm interested in mentoring. I'd prefer to mentor a non-code related project, simply because I'm not in the ODK code or familiar with it.

I've mentored for Outreachy 3 times in the past and would look forward to doing it again.

Just a quick +1 to participating in Outreachy. Having been through it previously, I can say it's a great way to get a wider variety of people participating in a project, and (like GSoC) the talent levels of the applicants is fantastic!

As @LN highlighted, the other great thing is that projects don't have to be coding related. So, if you've been really eager to get something done with ODK or this community at large, Outreachy can be a great way to get someone to help bring your ideas into the real world!

I'm available if anyone has questions about participating previously, or about potential project ideas to share with applicants. I also "volunteer" @wonderchook to help answer questions as she's participated as a mentor previously, too. :wink:

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Thank you @downey I really should have volunteered myself!

One of the reasons I've really enjoyed Outreachy in the past is it has led to people transitioning into jobs in tech. GSoC certainly helps people get involved in Open Source, but because of the quantity of people in Outreachy doing career changes or out of school it has been a more immediate result.


I am interested in mentoring.

I will give @Calum the first option to be a mentor on the ODK user facing website. If @Calum takes the website, I am happy to be a mentor for the Volunteer coordination.

This sounds like a great idea!

@Ronald_Munjoma - happy for you to mentor on the website, I'm not sure I'll be able to commit to the site and mentoring. Let's keep in touch though, to ensure we can best direct any expertise.

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Awesome! So glad you're interested @wonderchook and @Ronald_Munjoma. It's not too late for anyone else who wants to jump in!

I asked about how many students were likely to show up during the application period and got this answer from a program organizer:

we're talking in the range of 10-20 people during the
application period, who make various levels of progress in their
contributions to the project. Some just drop by the IRC channel
and try to get unstuck and then disappear, and maybe 3-6 applicants
made steady progress through several tasks.

And additionally:

I think our applicants might be really interested in the showcase. We
got about 5-7 people last round who were interested in data science
projects, so the showcase could be a way for them to explore the
real-world data science ODK's users do.

I think that for a first time participating, focusing on a single project would be a good idea. So a good next step would be to start refining one project description. I think there might be a good opportunity to combine @Ronald_Munjoma's interest in the website with something else like gathering stories for the showcase.

@wonderchook @downey How detailed does the project description have to be at this point? Can it be somewhat open ended with narrowing down happening according to applicants' interests?

I would give that a +1. You want enough so that an applicant can understand the goals, but be creative in their approach, together with a project's mentor(s)!

wonderful activity looks all exciting

I'd agree with that. Also it helps to provide links to lots of resources and create a FAQ as you go. In my experience many of the questions tend to be the same.

One suggestion is that we come up with more than one possible project but only commit to mentoring one. Sometimes there isn't a good fit for a proposed projects, but there might be an excellent student for a different one. That is only if we have other projects to possibly propose.

All sounds great to me, @wonderchook! I'm happy to follow your lead since you've done this before and are interested in mentoring.

Since the projects won't be related to a particular existing codebase, we'd need to figure out where the landing page will be for potential applicants and come up with some tasks they could do.

Do you want to do this brainstorming directly in this thread or perhaps in a Google doc linked from here? If you have other ideas for tools that would help we can likely get that set up.

:heart: Thanks to @wonderchook and @Ronald_Munjoma for volunteering. :heart:

I was a little confused about what the next steps are, so I went over the Outreachy documentation and I have outlined what we need for ODK to participate in Outreachy this season.

  1. A community organizer who is the key contact between Outreachy and ODK. @LN has volunteered to do this. Her responsibilities are to facilitate the application process. She will not be a mentor.

  2. Someone who wants to be a primary mentor to an intern and do the following for each project they are willing to mentor.

    1. Write a 1-2 paragraph project description with required/desired skills, newcomer documentation, and specific first tasks. Due Aug 30th.
    2. Find a back-up mentor in case you can't mentor some weeks.
    3. Review applications for applicants who finished tasks and select the intern. Due Oct 31st.
    4. Work with the intern for 5 hours minimum a week from December to March.

@wonderchook and @Ronald_Munjoma can you please get the ball rolling on project description with required/desired skills, newcomer documentation, and specific first tasks?

To make it easy for everyone to see, just write it in this Google Doc here:

If we can get this done by August 30th, we'll proceed. If we can't, we'll try again next season.

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I have written some information for the User facing website and a bit on Show off the showcase (which can be a big part of the website)

@Calum please do have a look at the User facing website text, feel free to edit and add yourself as a backup mentor if available. @brylie this might be of interest to you as well, please add your voice.

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Ronald, Am interested in the mentor-ship program especially in non coding programs any prerequisites?

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Morning @william1

Thanks for you interest in the Outreachy, please take a lot at the proposed projects.

We are still looking for mentors and co mentors. You can edit or comment on the Google Doc.

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I haven't been paying enough attention to the outreachy conversation, but I am more than happy to be involved as a mentor for documentation projects. I've updated the google doc a bit to specify what coding and non-coding skills are needed.


I'm so excited to see the interest and energy around this!

I have put together a draft organization application at the top of the organization document. Please comment and edit as needed! @downey and @wonderchook, since you've had experience with this process before, please let me know if the level of detail isn't right. In particular, do you think it's ok that we build the Outreachy landing page once it's confirmed that we're in?

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Document is looking great! I did add a few comments.

For the landing page, I feel like it'd be OK to start any time. In fact, it can help make the application look better (easier overall understanding of the project) if there's a framework landing page for folks to look at. But I know everyone is busy!

Awesome, thanks for the improvements! I'm inclined to send in the application now and perhaps start working on the landing page in parallel.

@downey, if you think not having a landing page could make or break our application, though, we can prioritize it.

Hi Helene,

Can I get involved somehow? Please let me know, I will be more than happy to do volunteering for ODK.


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