More than 60 municipalities have expressed interest so far in the 2012 fellowship of Code for America, the nonprofit program that assigns volunteer computer programmers to work for city governments.
More than 25 governments have started the applications process, according to Jennifer Pahlka, executive director and founder of Code for America (CfA). March 1 is the application deadline. The winning cities will be notified June 1, according to the CfA’s website.
The 2012 cycle will be the organization’s second year pairing five-person teams with cities. CfA will select three to five cities and roughly 20 fellows. Each municipal government that applies must present a problem that could be solved with open source programming to make its agencies more efficient, transparent and participatory for citizens.
Cities that apply should emphasize their ability to move projects through their own bureaucracies and should demonstrate commitment to making projects a priority of city staff members, according to CfA’s website.
In January 2012, the winning fellows will arrive at CfA’s San Francisco headquarters for training. In February, each team of fellows will stay in its partner city for one month to learn how the city functions, the nuances of its needs and to develop contacts. During that month, a team of tech startup entrepreneurs and thought leaders will travel to each city to aid officials and CfA fellows in brainstorming sessions. After February, fellows will travel back to CfA’s headquarters to spend the next several months developing their open source applications. Fellows must finish their projects nine months into the cycle and be ready to showcase them at a conference in San Francisco arranged by CfA. The two months after the showcase are spent tweaking the projects and transitioning the maintenance of them to the partner city.
Cities selected for the 2012 cycle pay a $250,000 fee to supplement the stipends paid to the fellows. It’s competitive both to become a fellow and to be a city selected to receive fellows. CfA’s 2011 cycle attracted 360 applicants, many of whom came from top schools and prestigious IT jobs.
The cities currently hosting fellows for the 2011 cycle are Seattle; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia.