Code for America Brigade National Advisory Council: Join Us

This post was written by National Advisory Council member Jill Bjers of Code for Charlotte.

Hi everyone! Your Code for America Brigade Network’s National Advisory Council (that is a mouthful, now you know why we call it NAC) has been working behind the scenes to define the council, our priorities and the work ahead. I have the honor of telling you about our progress and current plans.

Ahead of our workshop on January 23rd at 8pm ET/5pm PST, we’d like to lay out our initiatives and plans for 2017 and let you know how you can get involved.

Who We Are

Our job is to represent the Brigades and to become a unified voice for a maturing network. This translates into being a resource for focusing network priorities, such as funding decisions, shared knowledge and best practices. For that, we need to build with the network, not for.

We’re excited to work with all of you to identify more ways Brigade members can make an impact on a national level.

NAC Priorities for 2017

This year, NAC will focus on infrastructure. It is time for us to invest in our combined strength. Local brigades have started to mature and come into their own but that connection to a national network still can be elusive.

NAC, in partnership with Code for America’s staff, will shift the focus of the brigade program from growth to providing the solid base needed for deepening our impact, locally and nationally.

The Brigade Rally Cry

We’re a national network of community organizers & technologists who are putting technology to work for the benefit of our local communities.

When Code for America introduced their focus areas, we saw the first divergence in priorities. Brigades are, and should be, focused on the needs of their communities. However, that divergence has caused confusion about the brigade program and its alignment with Code for America. In response to this we’ve developed a rally cry that states who we are and our mission.

To be upfront and present in all of our activities, we’ve collected a set of shared principles that reflect the values of our communities:

Change Starts Locally

Change starts in our neighborhoods, our city halls, and our community centers. It is at the local level that we can most directly impact people’s lives.

The People = All People

We create inclusive communities where each and every person can participate, not just those with access to power and resources.

We Learn From One Another

We work in the open, we invite participation and feedback, and we share what we are learning with the rest of the network along the way.

These values show up in all our activities and are the core of our Code of Conduct.

Connecting with Brigades

As Brigade members and leaders, we’ve all faced challenges. NAC members are no different. To start 2017, each NAC member will begin a virtual listening tour. We are reaching out to each brigade to help determine best practices, goals and challenges. We are here to provide mentorship, answer questions, and learn from the network.

Brigade Action Teams

Introducing Brigade Action Teams (BAT)! One of the primary NAC goals is to determine ways all Brigade members can connect with the national community and its efforts.

How it works: each Brigade Action Team will be led by one member of the National Advisory Council with other NAC members and a Code for America staff member providing support. The action team will be comprised of individual brigade members.

For example, the Knowledge Sharing BAT will be lead by me, Luigi and Neil will be supporting NAC members, Nicole will be our CFA staff member. However, the team will mostly be comprised of brigade members interested in helping work on creating, curating and maintaining a shared knowledge base.

It’s important to note, the Brigade Action Teams will not just be open to captains but to all brigade members. In preparation for this, Code for America will be opening up their Slack instance so that we can better coordinate efforts. This effort will be ramping up over the next few weeks starting with existing Brigade members and city partners before opening it up further. This will also enable Brigade Members to participate directly in the national network.

Not all BATs are ready for roll out. However, we want to give you a heads up on the areas that we feel need specific focus. Our intent is to pilot the idea with the first three or four listed below and then scale:

Trust: Fostering a more intentionally inclusive and diverse network this team will create best practices, tips for heading off conflict and be the the point person Code of Conduct concerns.

Days of Action: Spearheading Brigade national days of action, such as Open Data Day and Hack for Change, and a possible Brigade Summit in 2017.

Badges & Recognition Team: Expanding the Brigade Awards (introduced at last Summit) and start awarding badges for both Brigades and individual contributors quantifying brigades and their team members’ impact.

Knowledge Sharing: Gathering and curating our knowledge across the network into a useable database of best practices, tips & tricks, and ways to learn from each other.

Fundraising: Identifying and tracking sources of funding and in-kind donations for the Brigade Network and work with Code for America to develop a way to support brigades.

Marketing Plan: Developing a marketing plan for recruitment and highlight the impact brigades are having at the local level.

Cross Brigade Collaboration: Increasing project delivery and management by developing standards for re-deployable apps and project management tools.

Mentorship and Training: Connecting brigades with leadership mentors, government partnerships and training.

Now that you’ve read through them, show your interest in a BAT here. This isn’t a commitment, but rather a starting point. We’ll be reaching out as they are launched.

Get Loud!

The NAC knows you’re the unsung heroes of the civic tech movement and we want to change that. Working in partnership with Code for America we have some ideas:

  • Recognition through the Brigade Badges and Awards program
  • Share your stories through the Code for America’s Medium Channel. In addition, CFA will be writing a monthly blog about wins across the network. Please hit up Christopher for ways you can get involved and give him fodder for the posts.
  • NAC members will be hosting monthly workshops where we can exchange ideas and get feedback on how the program is doing.

Now for the ask!

You knew it was coming, right? We can demonstrate the impact of our network and increase community led leadership but nine people can’t do it alone. Tell us what Brigade Action Teams you’re interested in by filling out this form.