Today we are very pleased to announce that Code for America has been granted $5 million by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of a larger Knight effort to revitalize democracy through civic technology and engagement. In the past two years, we have worked closely with Knight to bring our Fellowship program to several of their resident communities– Philadelphia, Macon, Detroit, and Akron (Summit County) — and we are thrilled to embark on a deeper partnership to strengthen our existing relationships and build new ones in both resident and non-resident Knight communities over the next five years.
I first met Damian Thorman, Knight’s director of national programs, at a conference in April 2010, eight months before our first fellowship program began. Then, Code for America was still just an idea. Damian immediately saw the promise in the program, and helped Knight become one of a very small number of institutions who made our first year possible. He visited us in our new offices on 2nd Street in San Francisco and saw that first class of fellows in action. He provided invaluable advice and guidance and connected us with people who would spread the word. And then he helped make our second year possible too. Now he, along with Alberto Ibarguen, Knight’s President and CEO, and others at Knight, are laying the foundation for Code for America’s work for the next five years.
Damian sees our work as part of a larger strategy to build the capacity and infrastructure of civic institutions to better engage with citizens in new and innovative ways. Like us, the folks at the Knight Foundation believe that government can work in the modern era if if our institutions open up and engage, and if we the people step up. Damian and his colleagues also understand that it is critical to build the components of a healthy ecosystem in order to foster innovation and long-lasting civic change.
With new Knight funding, we hope to reach at least half of the Knight resident and non-resident communities with one of our programs (Fellowship, Brigade, Peer Network, and Accelerator). We will also pilot several multi-year engagements to measure our impact over time and learn how we might evolve our model going forward.
In addition to valuing Knight’s overarching support for Code for America, we especially appreciate the thoughtfulness in which they approach structural and systemic change in the civic space. They have encouraged us to think deeply about a long-term model for change. We could not ask for a better partner and look forward to all that we will accomplish in the next five years together.
We also wanted to let you know that submissions are being accepted right now for the 2013 Knight News Challenge, which focuses on open government by asking “How might we improve the way citizens and government interact?” This news challenge is another way that Knight is working to help extend the spirit of open gov and to catalyze partnerships between hackers, civic innovators, governments, journalists and others. I encourage you to read more about it and submit your project idea.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.