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New Code for America fellowships look to strengthen existing civic tech relationships

Code for America has launched a new program where select CfA brigade members will work with local government partners to help "tackle whatever challenges their community is facing."

CfA’s Brigades, or distributed networks of community members that work on local civic tech projects, started in 2012 with 19 people in 16 cities. Since then, they have expanded to more than 60 cities nationwide and thousands of volunteers.

For the Community Fellowship program, brigade members who have existing partnerships in their local governments and want to build on that work can apply to be fellows.  The selected fellows will spend three to six months working with their local government's staff, researching user needs and meeting with key stakeholders to improve services for vulnerable populations.

Fellowship   deliverables could be an improved procurement process, an open data release or any number of projects that provide government services more efficiently for less, such as helping local police with transparency or writing a modular, agile procurement contract.

The goal of the program is "to strengthen the relationship between local Code for America brigade leaders and their government, and to create the conditions where change can 'stick,'"  CfA Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka wrote in a recent blog post.

This program is not necessarily about building an app to solve a specific problem but rather being a  "vehicle for driving cultural and structural change inside of government," she wrote.

Community Fellowships also are designed to be more affordable for governments with smaller budgets. Pitches from fellowship teams will include team structure, time estimates and budget requirements so they can "right-size the investment they need from the government." Pahlka explained.

Brigade members will be looking for government partners that exhibit strong leadership, are committed to being engaged and will sustain the work after the fellowship ends.

Applications are due April 30, with fellowships announced May 30 at the Code for America Summit. More information is available here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA from West Chester University and an MA in English from the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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