Friday, November 9, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Code for America

Code for America founder, Jennifer Pahlka spoke at a conference I attended on Monday and given the organization's mission "to make government work in the digital age", they are my Feel Good Friday pick of the week.

Founded in 2011, Code for America explains their work as follows: "We partner with governments to redesign public services in three high-impact focus areas. Together, we work on projects to better serve communities and transform how governments use technology."

Those three areas are healthy communities, criminal justice and economic development. One example is the GetCalFresh app. It's a service that makes it easier for people to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). There are 2 million people in California who are eligible for the program but not receiving the benefits. GetCalFresh allows them to apply from their mobile phones, get their questions answered via text, online chat or email and upload photos of documents instead of faxing them. See the demo here.

Other programs include Clear My Record, a free online tool that helps people with eligible convictions navigate the complicated process of clearing their records and The Integrated Benefits Initiative. That focuses on creating application systems where user experience and user needs are put at the center of what gets built. Pilot programs are currently running in Michigan, Colorado, Alaska, Vermont and Louisiana.

If you like what Code for America is doing and you've got the skills to help, you can apply for a job in government or volunteer on a local project at one of the 77 brigades around the U.S. My local brigade, Open Oakland is having a Civic Hack Night on November 13th.

No matter what your skills are you can always show your support with a donation or by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @codeforamerica.

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