Have an idea on how to improve how citizens and government work together? A competition launched Tuesday, Sept. 24, is tasking the public to submit their ideas for a chance to win $5,000.

Ideation Nation – the brainchild of civic engagement nonprofit Code for America and online engagement platform MindMixer – is a nationwide contest that will accept ideas through Oct. 31. Once the submission period is complete, a panel of judges will review the ideas for “creativity, innovation and practicality,” according to a Code for America press release.

“The intent of Ideation Nation is how can we come together and actually provide a platform for citizens across the country – independent of where they live – to share ideas about how technology can improve their experience, their relationship with the government or jurisdiction they live in?” said MindMixer CEO Nick Bowden. “We’re really trying to find as many scalable ideas as possible.”

After reviewing all of the submissions, the judges will select the top 25 finalists, which will be announced Nov. 11. After further review, the judges will announce the winning idea on Dec. 3. The finalist will then be awarded a free MindMixer website to continue the conversation with his or her respective community along with $5,000, mentorship and coaching to nurture the idea to fruition by 2014.

According to Code for America, the other 24 finalist's ideas will remain available for the public, to encourage civic hackers to further develop the ideas into reality.

The Omaha, Neb.-based MindMixer originally paired up with Code for America last year after participating in the nonprofit’s accelerator program, Bowden said. The four-month program caters to civic startups with an emphasis on helping the participating businesses networking and training tools to grow.

Code for America’s Co-Executive Director Abhi Nemani said ideas that surface through Ideation Nation can be introduced to one of the nonprofit’s other programs, the Code for America Brigade – a network of volunteers across the country working to utilize technology to better connect citizens and cities. The hope is that members of the Brigade can take ideas submitted from Ideation Nation and develop them into real services.

“You get those ideas and then hand them off to this volunteer army and see what they can do,” Nemani said.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.