Code for America is pleased to announce that we’re accepting applications for our Community Fellowship pilot — a program that pairs local Brigade talent (fellows will be brigade members!) with government to improve services for vulnerable people they serve. The Community Fellowship program is a way for local leaders — including developers, designers, procurement experts, policy wonks, product managers, and more — to help their community’s most vulnerable residents.
We’ve designed this Fellowship program to empower local leaders with the flexibility to tackle whatever challenges their community is facing. Fellows will be members of Code for America Brigades with existing partnerships in their local governments who are looking to prove a concept or scale a product’s impact. Code for America fellows will spend 3–6 months collaborating with government staff, researching user needs, meeting with key stakeholders, and improving services for vulnerable populations.
To lead that work, Code for America has hired Hashim Mteuzi as our Senior Manager for Talent. He comes to Code for America from FedEx where he was the Senior Manager of Tech. He’s excited about the large and diverse group of incredibly talented people that he gets to work with every day.
Part of Hashim’s role will be helping us test new things. Unlike the previous fellowships, the Community Fellowship will be a joint application between Brigades and their government partner. Instead of moving to San Francisco, Community Fellows will work within their existing communities. The goal of the fellowship is to strengthen the relationship between local Code for America Brigade leaders and their government, and to create the conditions where change can “stick.”
Also new is that fellowship projects don’t necessarily have to produce an app. The product could be an early-stage application, an improved procurement, an open data release, or other project that improves the delivery of a government service or function, at a fraction of the cost typical in government. The process will act as a vehicle for driving cultural and structural change inside of government — encouraging innovation, reducing risk by involving users early, and increasing capacity for serving the public.
The Community Fellowships also open up opportunities for the fellowship to be more affordable for governments with smaller budgets. Each fellowship team will pitch their proposed budget needed to reach their goal (along with the structure and length of time needed), which allows them to right-size the investment they need from the government.
We’ll be answering questions about the fellowship in an online workshop on April 12th.
Taking on big challenges
With the Community Fellowship, Brigade members and their government partners are invited to submit applications for projects that build on discovery work that brigades and government have done together, and serve vulnerable populations.
Potential projects could include:
- Helping a local police department pilot and publish new police transparency data
- Writing a modular, agile procurement for the software to modernize an important city service
- Developing and launching a Design, Technology, and Innovation Fellowship for a county transit agency
- Implementing and publishing a set of service patterns for a state to better serve people who are returning to their communities after incarceration
(Tip: We love re-use! Every project and example linked above is public domain/redeployable or something applicants can build on.)
The Pilot Round
The first round of the Community Fellowship will be a pilot that allows for flexibility as we learn the best ways to support these projects and new relationships. The fellowship projects can vary in terms of their budget, timeframe, and if they need full-time or part-time staffing.
For the pilot, The Brigade and government partner will determine team and project needs. While we have seen success with three person teams consisting of a Product Manager, Designer, and Developer, Brigades should feel free to pitch whatever will allow them to achieve their goal.
For this pilot, Code for America will be pursuing an aggressive timeline so that we can start learning and improving based on what we learn.
- First Fellowship Online Workshop on April 12
- Feedback Session for Applications on April 19
- Applications due April 30
- Selection Process May 1–21
- Fellowships announced May 30 at the Code for America Summit
- Fellowship lessons learned shared at Brigade Congress in October
- Fellowships begin June 18
- Fellowships end no later than December 21, dependending on the timeline proposed by the team
You can get more details on how to apply on our website. We’re also hosting a Q&A session about the new fellowship on April 12 at 5 p.m. PST. (RSVP Here!) On April 19, we’ll provide an opportunity for applicants to hear feedback on their applications before the deadline on April 30. You can also reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the former fellows, government partners, brigade captains, government tech leaders and Code for America alumni whose thoughtful feedback and advice led to this new iteration of the Code for America Fellowship. Your leadership and insight has been invaluable.