Leadership from the Code for America Network in 2018

Civic tech is not a product. It’s a movement, a mindset, a way of improving weakened civic institutions through an open-source, iterative approach to public policy and efficient government services. In that sense, then, lasting progress cannot be expected to come from a single cool civic app. Lasting, transformative change takes time, collaboration, small victories and getting outside of the command line.

-Carl Lewis, co-captain of OpenSavannah

Where Brigades are heading

Together, Brigades are redefining civic engagement for the digital era.

Brigades get outside of the command line. They get to know the people in City Hall (and sometimes in fact work in local government as their day jobs), advocate for open data and make use of it on behalf of the public, build apps to make their communities better, and help define a “new kind of public service.” They have increased youth access to local job opportunities in Boston, MA and alleviated the affordable housing crisis in Asheville, NC. They have helped keep people out of jail in Tulsa, OK and developed tools for planners to build better bike routes in Philadelphia, PA. They have connected people with affordable housing in Washington, DC and improved the delivery of health and human services in Kansas City. They have helped Houston respond to a hurricane, and then immediately regrouped to help Florida do the same. It’s been a busy time. Together, Brigades are redefining civic engagement for the digital era.

2018 is going to be a big year for the network that we’ve built together. Brigades are where we as a community can make the country work for all its people. Achieving the vision of a government fit for the digital age is only possible with significant investment and commitment to cities, communities, and networked localism through the Brigades.

2017 was a year of progress and of laying down the groundwork for impact over the next five years. We hired Erie Meyer to lead the Network, Veronica Young as our volunteer specialist, Tom Dooner to be our developer evangelist, worked with the first ever community-elected National Advisory Council, held the 5th annual National Day of Civic Hacking and first annual Brigade Congress, invested in the shared values that make this network cohere, and otherwise supported more than 70 volunteer groups across the country make their communities better.

As we look to 2018, Code for America is doubling down on our support of this network and finding ways of investing in local leadership. We are re-envisioning methods to lift up local work and talent around the country, and creating a space for community members from Miami and San Jose and Charlotte to learn from one another. We are building the bridge between the amazing talent in Brigades to hiring managers in local government looking for incredible technologists. We are investing in professional development and ways to bring this community together, and are thrilled to convene the community at the 2018 Code for America Summit. And this is just the start.

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