Code for America
|Code for America|
|Executive Director||Jennifer Pahlka|
|Location||San Francisco, CA|
Code for America is a non-partisan, non-political 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2009 to bring web-industry professionals to work with city governments in the United States in order to promote openness, participation, and efficiency in municipal governments.
Through three programs Code for America helps local governments harness the internet. Through the Fellowship, Code for America connects developers and designers to local government. Through the Accelerator, Code for America provides seed funding, office space, and mentorship to civic startups. Through the Brigade, Code for America helps local, community groups reuse civic software.
The Washington Post described Code for America as "the technology world’s equivalent of the Peace Corps or Teach for America." The article goes on to say, "They bring fresh blood to the solution process, deliver agile coding and software development skills, and frequently offer new perspectives on the latest technology — something that is often sorely lacking from municipal government IT programs. This is a win-win for cities that need help and for technologists that want to give back and contribute to lower government costs and the delivery of improved government service." 
The New York Times described Code for America as “a new nonprofit project... which aims to import the efficiency of the Web into government infrastructures” and “[tries] to make working in government fun and creative.” 
Founding and History
In 2009, founder Jennifer Pahlka was working with O'Reilly Media at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, DC. A conversation with Andrew Greenhill, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff of the City of Tucson, sparked the initial idea for Code for America, when he said “You need to pay attention to the local level because cities are in major crisis. Revenues are down, costs are up -- if we don't change how cities work, they're going to fail." The two began discussing plans for a program that eventually became Code for America, “a one-year fellowship recruiting developers to work for city government.” With support from web entrepreneur Leonard Lin, Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, and technologist Clay A. Johnson, among others, the organization was launched in September 2009.
According to their website, “Code for America helps city governments become more transparent, connected and efficient by connecting the talents of cutting-edge web developers with people who deliver city services and want to embrace the transformative power of the web to achieve more impact with less money. Inspired in part by Teach for America, CfA works with city officials and leading web development talent to identify and then develop web solutions that can then be shared and rolled out more broadly to cities across America.”
Code for America connects city governments and web professionals through the Code for America Fellowship program.
The first year of the fellowship program began in January 2011. Twenty fellows were selected from 360 applicants, resulting in a 5.6% acceptance rate. Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Seattle were the four cities selected to participate in the 2011 program.
On January 4, 2012 Code for America began its second year fellowship program with 26 fellows and eight cities: Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Honolulu, Macon, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Santa Cruz.
The inaugural 2011 fellowship program launched four projects in Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Each city will partner with a team of five web programmer and/or designers selected for the fellowship. Over 11 months, the fellows and city government will collaborate to develop a web application to solve a civic problem identified by the city in their project proposals. The completed applications will be released as open-source for any city government to use or adapt.
The Civic Commons project was launched in September 2010 after the Washington, DC project fell through due to a change in administration. Civic Commons is a coordinated effort between Code for America, OpenPlans, and the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), the project is focused on reducing public IT costs by helping government entities share code and best practices. In March 2011, Civic Commons helped make the Federal IT dashboard freely available to all levels of government, thereby providing local governments with tools to monitor project effectiveness and evaluate the allocation of resources.
In December 2011 Code for America announced the receipt of a $1.5 million grant from Google and the formation of two new programs: Accelerator and Brigade.
Board of Directors
- Andrew Greenhill, City of Tucson
- John Lilly, Greylock Partners
- Leonard Lin, Lensley
- Andrew McLaughlin, Tumblr
- Jennifer Pahlka
- Monica Harrington (emeritus)
- Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media (emeritus)
Board of Advisors
- Deb Bryant, GOSCON/Open Source Lab
- Ben Cerveny, bloom.io
- Peter Corbett, iStrategyLabs
- Kevin Curry, Bridgeborn
- Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Blue State Digital
- Adam Greenfield, Urbanscale
- Nick Grossman, OpenPlans
- Clay Johnson, Sunlight Labs
- Eugene Eric Kim, Groupaya
- Michal Migurski, Stamen Design
- Andrew Rasiej, Personal Democracy Forum
- Clay Shirky, author, Here Comes Everybody
- Tom Steinberg, Director of MySociety
- Jennifer Pahlka (Founder and Executive Director)
- Kevin Curry (Program Director: Brigade)
- Jack Madans (Program Coordinator)
- Abhi Nemani (Director of Strategy and Communications)
- Meghan Reilly (Operations Director)
- Lauren Reid (Marketing Coordinator)
- Ryan Resella (Technical Lead)
- Michael Santus (Office Manager)
- Bob Sofman (Program Director: Fellowship)
- Catherine Bracy (Director of International Programs)
- Anne and Louis Abrons Foundation
- Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
- Case Foundation
- Stephen Elop
- Bob Glushko and Pam Samuelson
- Mike and Monica Harrington
- Clay Johnson
- John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- Paul Maritz
- Shel Kaphan Foundation
- Sunlight Foundation
- Rockefeller Foundation
- Omidyar Network
- O'Reilly Foundation
- Union Square Ventures
- Code for America official website
- Civic Commons
- Changing Government and Tech with Geeks, Nick Bilton, The New York Times, July 6, 2010
- How an Army of Techies Is Taking on City Hall, Anya Kamenetz, Fast Company, November 29, 2010
- Remaking Government in a Wiki Age, Chrystia Freeland/Reuters, The New York Times, August 18, 2011
- "Who We Are". Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "What We Do". Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "About Code for America". Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- Wadhwa, Vivek (2011-12-16). "Code for America: An elegant solution for government IT problems". Washington Post.
- Bilton, Nick (2010-07-06). "Changing Government and Tech With Geeks". New York Times.
- Kamenetz, Anya (2010-11-29). "How an Army of Techies Is Taking On City Hall". Fast Company.
- "Code for America Chooses 20 Developers as Fellows". Mashable. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "Code for America Fellows to Work with City Governments". Government Technology. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "Hacker Driven Code for America Kicks Off Today". Fast Company. 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- "http://codeforamerica.org/2012". 2012. Code for America. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- "Civic Commons Launched to Help Government Share Technology and Cut Costs". DC.gov. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- "Civic Commons - About". Civic Commons. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- "Cost-Saving IT Dashboard Software Now Available to All Levels of Government". Code for America. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- "Google Awards $1.5 Million To Code For America". Google Awards $1.5 Million To Code For America. InformationWeek. Retrieved 14 December 2011.