Applications for the 2020 JIA Virtual Hackathon are now closed! Thank you for your interest - we will be in touch soon.

We are excited to announce the Jains in Action Virtual Hackathon!

JIA is a fantastic opportunity to bring to life an idea that makes your community better, and to learn new skills. Whether you have experience with entrepreneurship and hackathons, or this is totally new for you, the JIA experience is structured to bring something to everyone. We are excited to get started soon on the JIA Virtual Hackathon!

Identify a world issue or problem. Develop an actionable solution that is connected to Jain values.

Project Timeline
Phase I (July to August)
There will initially be three 1-hour sessions to guide your project teams as you go through the process. This will be followed by ‘pitch day’, where teams will be asked to present the work that they have accomplished.

  • Session 1: Human Centered Design (tentatively July 15th at 8:30 PM EST)
  • Session 2: Brainstorming (August 1, 4 PM EST)
  • Session 3: Storytelling (August 15, 4 PM EST)
  • Pitch Day I (TBD) - we are excited to award up to $500 to the winning team at Pitch Day to use to work on their idea!
Phase II (September to December)
Any project teams interested in continuing their work will do so during Phase II. This may involve testing, prototyping, and exploring other avenues of implementation.
  • Session 4: Prototyping (mid-September)
  • Pitch Day II (Early December) - prize info TBD
Through both phases, participants can expect to dedicate 2 hours per week to their projects.

Time Commitment

  • What will the schedule be like? Part I will be composed of three check-in periods, each lasting three weeks. During each period, you should expect to spend: at least 1 hour on a call with your team, 1 hour attending a workshop, and at least 2 hours working on your project. Individual teams may choose to schedule calls more frequently!
  • Do I need to be available for every workshop? Part I of the Hackathon will consist of three workshops sessions: July 15 at 8:30 EST (tentative), August 1 at 4 EST, and August 15 at 4 EST. It is encouraged that you attend each one to get the most out of the Virtual Hackathon experience, but not required.

You will have the interactive sessions mentioned above to guide your project teams as you move forward. Furthermore, the JIA team will provide you with several resources for your use as you see fit, including recommended timelines and sample agendas for your meetings. High school project teams will also be assigned a mentor for guidance throughout the process.
Still have questions about the Virtual JIA Hackathon? Email [email protected]!

Jains in Action (JIA) is a YJA Project Team focused on creating opportunities for Jain youth to practice social entrepreneurship and problem solving. We are interested in teaching these skills, and also helping connect Jain youth with mentors, resources, and funding in the entrepreneurial space. In this way, we further our practice of Jainism by actively and creatively bettering our world around us. Participants may work on topics such as food waste, climate change, healthcare or college debt – the topic is up to the team. Several projects incubated within JIA, including Maharaj Saheb Messages and the Jain Mentorship Program, continue today!

Past JIA programs have included:

  • In-person hackathons at the 2016 and 2018 YJA Conventions
  • Ideation and brainstorming session for high school students at the 2019 JAINA Convention

JIA began during the 2016 convention in Los Angeles, embracing the convention theme: Agents of Change. If you want to know more about JIA, want to join our team planning the 2020 event, or just have an idea for our Jain communities, feel free to email us at [email protected]!

  • Jains in Action (JIA) is a hackathon-style event and an opportunity for Jain youth to collaborate, putting what they’ve learned in school and work together with the principles of Jainism to solve a problem in our community and the world around us.
  • First held at YJA 2016, JIA was modified significantly for YJA 2018 to include a complete 4-month structured curriculum. Teams were formed based on backgrounds and levels of experience and ideas and solutions were presented to a panel of judges. Maharaj Saheb Messages was the winning idea at the JIA event during YJA 2018, and JIA participants collaborated with the YJA Director of Education and the Education subcommittee to bring this platform to life.
  • At JAINA 2019, JIA held a 2 hour session intended to be a shortened “workshop” version of JIA catered towards kids aged 14-20 years of age in the Youth Activities group, aiming to help them think about problems our Jain community faces in sanghs and temples and to give them an introduction of the hackathon format.
  • JIA most recently also received significant support from JAINA’s Long-Range Planning Committee (LRP). We continue to offer support to teams that are working or intend to work on their ideas after previous YJA and JAINA conventions. We are really excited about what we can achieve using this platform for the community in 2020 and beyond.


  • Putting Wealth Into Our Health - Consulting service to help Jain sanghs improve their health programs and increase education about health issues in their communities. (Third Place Winner)
  • Jainpedia - Interactive website that would have resources and information to help users follow a Jain diet or increase their consumption of non-violent foods and products.
  • Blossom - App allowing users within the Jain community to share restaurant reviews and recommendations.
  • JainLift - Service to organize rideshares and carpools to help young Jains near urban sanghs get to the temple. (Second Place Winner)
  • Jain Mentorship Program - Program to pair mentors and mentees within the Jain community for professional and personal growth.
  • Maharaj Saheb Messages - Platform that allows young Jains to ask questions to maharaj sahebs and religious leaders in India and get direct responses from them. Currently a YJA Education Project! (First Place Winner)


  • Education Reform
  • Leftover Food Program
  • Increasing Jain Awareness
  • Healthcare Reform
  • World Hunger Awareness

Meet the Team

Hetali Lodaya

Hetali is a recent law and education grad from the University of Michigan. She previously worked at VentureLab, a nonprofit providing entrepreneurship education programs for K-12 classrooms. Working with Nourish International in college showed her the potential of entrepreneurship and social justice to address challenges in our communities, while her time as a YJA member and leader has shown her the incredible power Jain youth have to work together for change. She is so excited to help facilitate those connections through JIA! In her spare time, she loves travel, tea, and trying new vegan recipes.

Utsav Gandhi

Utsav is a graduate student in public policy at the University of Chicago, interested in working at the intersection of media, technology, and politics, and solving issues surrounding misinformation and election cybersecurity. He has previously served as a Local Representative in the Chicago area, but has mostly just enjoyed and appreciated YJA for social connections and great memories. He is excited to work on JIA for the first time. In the limited free time Utsav is able to salvage while in grad school, he likes to swim, run, go to politics or pop culture-themed trivia, catch up on the annual Oscar favorites, and slowly but surely inch closer towards finishing 30 Rock.

Divyansh Shah

Divyansh is a Process Development Engineer at Dow Inc. in Collegeville, PA. He graduated in 2019 from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. His passion for finding active solutions to real-world problems has stemmed from volunteering as the technology lead for BLUElab India Project, where he designed and implemented over 1,000 sustainable cooking stoves for underserved communities in rural Gujarat, India. In his free time, Divyansh enjoys traveling, playing football and soccer, reading, and cooking. He is originally from Boston, MA, and is a die-hard sports fan (Brady is the GOAT).

Shailee Shah

Shailee is a cloud analyst at Oracle within their North America Applications Consulting team. While in college, she spearheaded a start-up consulting group. She has also led health education initiatives and heavily fundraised for high school scholarships for students in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the 2016 and 2018 conventions, she thoroughly enjoyed working in teams to develop solutions to social problems through JIA, working on issues such as food waste and healthcare education. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, live music, and backpacking across the European subcontinent.

Chetan Vandakudri

Chetan is a Salesforce developer, currently working in California. He has been in the IT industry for close to 4 years now. Besides work, he has a masters degree. He is enjoying working with JIA for the first time and is excited being part of the YJA group. He is good at playing chess, badminton, and cricket. He likes being social and made great connections in Dallas before moving to the Bay Area.