Event FAQ

Attending Ruby for Good

The Ruby for Good DC Area Conference is an annual event based out of the DC metro area where engineers, designers, product managers, and other gooders from all over the globe get together over a long weekend to collaboratively build projects in service of our communities. Gooders stay on-site, and hacking and socializing takes place in communal areas. Questions? Check out the FAQ or drop us a note on Slack or via email at info@rubyforgood.org.

This year we are returning to Shepherd's Spring Camp & Retreat Center in the woods, about an hour outside of DC. With the stress of the past few years, we want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities to a place where we can destress with our friends both new and old. Spending time in nature is good for you. Don't take it from us, that's just science! Plus, eating s'mores in front of a campfire after a day of civic hacking is pretty much the best thing ever.

How Does Ruby for Good Work?

This is an event for people of all skill levels so even if you are new, we won't let that prevent you from contributing!

Attendees self-select into projects that are meaningful to them and then the fun begins! Most projects have a need for a variety of skills including developers, designers, and product managers. While most of our attendees use Ruby, we welcome programmers of other languages, especially if you’re interested in learning some Ruby!

Past years have benefited from attendees with JavaScript, architecture, and design skills as well.

That Sounds Awesome, Tell Me More!

Here is the tentative schedule for this year's event.

Interested in Co-Leading a Team?

During registration we’ll ask if you’d like to lead a team — say yes! We’ll be in touch in early April with potential projects – both new and existing ones. We’ll brief you on expectations and put you in touch with your nonprofit. You'll work with them in advance of the event to take care of project requirements, milestones, and initial setup so you can hit the ground running with your team at Ruby for Good. For new projects, setup includes creating a GitHub repo under the Ruby for Good GitHub, filing issues to work off of during the event, and making some technology suggestions.

Don't worry! Team leads don’t work alone; most projects have multiple leads working together as a group. There are also several people who help across the teams that you can get support from. If you want to know what it will be like to lead a team this year, read our team lead guide. For an in-depth look from a past year's team lead, check out Brandon Rice’s blog post, Leading a Team at Ruby for Good.

Still not sure and want to talk about it with an organizer? Drop us a note.

Also, if you have a project in mind that you’d like to lead, suggest a project to work on!


Tickets are on sale now! Please consider also contributing to our scholarship fund. It costs about $350 per scholarship recipient, and we rely on your help to make this event accessible to everyone. Those seeking a scholarship can apply here.

We are particularly interested in creating a diverse and inclusive space, and especially encourage those underrepresented in tech to join the event. Want to help make the event more inclusive? Invite others who will make the space welcoming and sponsor a scholarship recipient waitlisted for lack of funds.

Please read our Code of Conduct prior to attending.

Why Have Ruby for Good Events?

Several of our projects could benefit from a weekend's worth of focused gooding and it gives us a chance to share the Ruby for Good experience with more folks.

What Skill Level Do I Need to Have to Attend?

All experience levels are definitely welcome! We have a wide variety of skill levels – some people have next to no experience in programming, whereas other have decades – but the same applies to other areas too! We have a wide variety of skill levels in pair programming, teaching, product building – and these don’t necessarily correlate with years of programming experience. The event is as much about learning as it is about building great things. Groups are very collaborative and you’ll definitely have the opportunity to work closely with others and push a lot of code.

Do I Need to Be a Programmer?

We need developers, designers, product/project managers, and anyone interested in making at difference at Ruby for Good. If you think you can help out, we'll welcome you with open arms!

How Do I Suggest a Project?

Have a project you’re jonesing to work on? Suggest it here!

What ARE the nonprofits you'll be helping this year?

We’ll announce project details, including available teams to join, the first night of the event.

For reference, here were last year's projects and associated nonprofits:

How Can I Help?

  • Suggest a project. We always need worthy projects! We’ve compiled an Airtable form to make the submission easy. Suggest a project!
  • Lead a team. This is a great way to up your skills, especially if you’ve been programming for a while and are eager for the experience of leading a team.
  • Ask your employer for sponsorship. We need lots of help with fundraising. The long weekend experience is expensive and we’d like to offer tickets to the wonderful folks who volunteer for as little as possible. This is only possible with donations and sponsors! Please reach out to your employer to see if they would be willing to help us give back to our community, or talk with us about how to do this.
  • Donate. Would you be willing to chip in to help bring more scholarship recipients to the event? We need your help.
  • Spread the word. This event happens because of you, and we need both developer and designer expertise! Please tell everyone about Ruby for Good.

Is This a Hackathon?

No. This is definitely not a hackathon. Sean cringes everytime someone mentions 'hackathon' and 'Ruby for Good' in the same sentence. (Try it.)

The difference? A hackathon often ends up in a lot of code that isn't used beyond the event. We have people actively using our codebases! It feels very different to have a client/stakeholder excited to use your work and helping to direct what we do.

When Does Registration Open?

Registration is open now! Grab your ticket today! Our last one was so fun. Tell all your #rubyfriends!

When Do I Need to Register By?

By May 5th or when we sell out, whichever comes first! We can’t wait to see you.

Oops, I Bought My Ticket and Now I Can’t Go. Will You Please Refund/Transfer?

After March 14th we will be unable to offer refunds but we will happily help coordinate exchanges/transfers until April 30th. Drop us a note if you need help coordinating this.

Do I Really HAVE to Be There by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday for Kickoff?

Yeah, you really do. Teams will be chosen right around that time and you’ll spend the remainder of the time meeting with your team, chatting about your projects, and getting your environments aligned. We’ve found the event is most successful, with the most buy-in, when teams are a cohesive bunch from the beginning.

How Early Can I Arrive on Thursday?

Most of the organizing team is planning on arriving at 2:00 p.m. but feel free to beat us there! There is some amazing hiking in the area if you’re looking for something to do before the event starts.

I'm Flying To DC, How Will I Get There?

The DC area has three main airports. DCA is the favorite one of DC locals because it’s the most central, but Dulles and BWI also work.

As for getting from the airport to the venue, we're going to be coordinating car pools and we'll have a few folks with larger vehicles leaving from strategic locations in the area.

Where Are We Staying?

This year we are returning to Shepherd's Spring Camp & Retreat Center in the woods, about an hour outside of DC. We will be staying in their hotel-style double occupancy lodge rooms. The lodge also contains the dining hall and has several multipurpose rooms in which the teams will meet to work on their projects. The venue has beautiful hiking trails and cozy campfire circles, which we will definitely be taking advantage of.

What Do I Need to Bring?

The venue will provide linens, towels, and toiletries, so if you’re flying in, you can pack light. Besides your laptop and charger, extension cords are always helpful to have on hand! The venue's Internet has gotten an upgrade since our last visit, but if you own a WiFi hotspot, it might be a good idea to bring it along just in case. Lastly, don't forget to bring your favorite board games, card games, puzzles, or other fun activities for the evenings!

How Does Food Work?

All food is provided, you just need to bring yourself! We'll even provide snacks in the evenings when we're all socializing/playing games/singing karaoke/Werewolf!

I’m a Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-free/Allergic to...

Don't worry, the venue is happy to work around food restrictions. Let us know ahead of time so we can prepare for that!

What’s it REALLY Like at Ruby for Good?

So glad you asked! For expert insight, here are a couple of blog posts written up by past Ruby for Good team leads and attendees:

If you'd like your Ruby for Good experience to be included in our listed above, please email us at info@rubyforgood.org and we'll get it on the site pronto. Blogs, articles, podcasts, etc. are welcome!