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](https://twitter.com/search?q=%40_leekinney&src=typd) works full-time as a developer for a home health care organization in Philadelphia. She has a lot of front end developer skills, but until recently she felt uncomfortable at tech community events. That all changed when she became a fellow in a unique program called “Summer of Open Source” — a Girl Develop It (GDI) and Code for Philly partnership.
LeeAnn was eager to learn about more tools, and wanted build something that was socially oriented, but found it intimidating to learn and ask questions. Seeing the need for a space for women like LeeAnn to learn about software development and be included in developer community, the Girl Develop It Philadelphia Chapter teamed up with Code for America brigade, Code for Philly, to offer their very own civic tech fellowship: Summer of Open Source.
“Working with Girl Develop It made Hack Nights more fun, and now I am much more comfortable, not just working with software, but also talking about software,” says LeeAnn, who now teaches for Girl Develop It. “The projects we have worked on all have a greater human-centered purpose, and have forced me to learn so many new systems, which makes the work more interesting to discuss. I am now eager to attend other events in the technology space because being a part of the Girl Develop It – Code for Philly fellow community helped break the barriers I once felt as a woman in tech.”
While in Philadelphia for Summer of Open Source Show & Tell, the celebration of the fellowship, I met many women like LeeAnn; women enthused to share the details of their projects and celebrate their coding skills. It was clear that Girl Develop It students felt more confident in the hacker space thanks to this partnership with Code for Philly.
With Our Powers Combined
Less than a year and a half ago, Code for Philly and Girl Develop It began co-hosting sporadic meet-ups, in the spirit of enhancing their communities while learning from each other’s organizational style.
After many successful meet-ups, the Captains of Code for Philly, Chris Alfano and Lloyd Emelle , got together with Girl Develop It Executive Director Corinne Warnshuis and GDI Philly teacher Catherine Farman, began laying the groundwork for what would become the, “Summer of Open Source” fellowship program. Out of this pilot program came 12 civic-purposed web services. All of the fellowship projects improve citizen access to for civic life, like Public Health data, Wheelchair Accessibility maps, School District Budget Visualization, and more. The projects are open source on GitHub and can be forked for use in other locations.
“We are really excited at the success of this pilot Open Source Fellowship program and all that the mentors and fellows were able to learn from it. With Code for America’s continued partnership support, the potential for the expansion and success of the program is enormous. I believe it can be transformative not only for the participants, but for the open source community as a whole,” said Corinne Warnshuis, Executive Director of Girl Develop It.
We need more collaborative programming like this to create diverse civic-tech ecosystems across organizations and across the world. By matching 12 Girl Develop It fellows with 12 Code for Philly mentors, these two communities are improving gov-tech capabilities, advancing the inclusion of people from under-represented backgrounds, and promoting the joy of coding.
Working with Girl Develop It also gave the Brigade an opportunity to have more fruitful, collaborative meet-ups. This diversity was apparent at the Hack Night I attended. Among the Girl Develop It fellows present, there were another 20 Code for Philly members, including folks from across Philadelphia’s municipal space, private sector, non-profit network, and academia.
“People are getting better acquainted and bridging interests. As a result, more folks are eager to be involved, both in and out of Hack Night,” said Code for Philly member, Dawn.
This partnership displays the kind of initiative Brigades across the country can take to build inclusive community participation in collaboration with other community based organizations. Have other ideas for building inclusive membership through special programming? Want to get involved? Please check out the Brigade Toolkit and GDI Partnership page we would love to support you.