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What’s New in Civic Tech: National Science Foundation Funds Los Angeles Data Partnership

Plus, Code for America strengthens the brigade network with $2 million Knight Foundation grant; Results for America launches a new resources to bolster governmental human services contracting; Code4PA Codeathon spans three Pennsylvania cities; and this week’s gov tech jobs.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded nearly $1 million in funding to a project that will create a partnership between California State University, Los Angeles; the city of Los Angeles’ GeoHub; Community Partners; and Social Equity Engagement geo-Data Scholars (SEEDS).

The project is aimed at fostering better use of the vast trove of available data in Los Angeles, specifically by supporting the city’s GeoHub, which is a public platform that allows for visualization and downloading of location-based open data, as well as in analyzing data through layered maps and other functionality. The award from the NSF was announced this month, and the exact total is $948,683. The project is slated to begin Sept. 1, with an estimated end date of Aug. 31, 2021.

The money will help to promote Los Angeles’ open data portal — especially among traditionally disadvantaged groups — as well as to provide training for citizens and nonprofits interested in learning to use big data and to better understand the benefits of data-driven government.

As part of the project, Los Angeles will give California State University, Los Angeles, community groups and nonprofits GeoHub accounts to access software and apps related to big data for free. The project will foster training of faculty members who can subsequently train students in GeoHub’s use.

Code for America to Strengthen Brigade Network with $2 Million Knight Foundation Grant

Code for America (CfA) will soon strengthen its brigades, through $2 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

The money from Knight will help CfA expand its brigade program over the next two years. CfA is a nonprofit and nonpartisan national organization aimed at using tech to make government work better for citizens, and its brigade network is essentially a collection of civic technologists spread throughout the country who use development, design and other skills to support CfA’s mission in their own communities. 

This new funding from the Knight Foundation will go toward establishing advisory councils to boost the impact individual brigades have in their communities. The idea is to essentially refresh the very model for the brigades, better positioning the many local groups to collaborate on civic tech projects with their local governments, organizers announced in a press release about the funding. 

CfA and its brigade network are almost inextricable at this point. CfA was founded in 2009 with the goal using tech to make government work better for actual people. It launched its brigade network in 2012, doing so by working with local governments and other partners at the community level.

Knight Foundation made an early investment back then, and in the meantime, the CfA Brigades have grown from three to 77 today. The organization reports that it started with fewer than 100 volunteers and now includes as many as 25,000 people.

Results for America Launches New Resources to Bolster Governmental Human Services Contracting

Results for America, a group aimed at helping decision-makers in government benefit from data and evidence, has recently launched new resources for local and state governments looking to bolster human services contracting. 

These resources are diverse, and they have received insights and support from several prominent collaborators, ranging from officials at the New York City’s Office for Economic Opportunity to leadership in King County, Wash. Taken holistically, though, all of these new resources highlight ways to benefit from improving human services contracting with data. 

The first of these resources is Results for America’s new What Works Toolkit, which is essentially a five-step guide for policymakers about using data, evidence and other outcome-focused approaches for improving human services contracting. Prominent gov tech leaders Matt Klein of the New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity and Lauren Sanchez Gilbert of BELL wrote a piece about putting ideas from the toolkit into action.  

Meanwhile, Results for America also released a new case study from King County, which highlights how government leaders there have transformed contracting for services for children and families in order to make them more data-driven and results-oriented.

King County Executive Dow Constantine has been recognized for his administration’s work, which includes offering more technical assistance and data analytics support to human services providers, ultimately fostering an increase in the number of community-based organizations that applied for available grants. 

Finally, Results for America will be training state and local policymakers about how to apply the recommendations from its aforementioned What Works Toolkit. The training is slated to take place this fall, and all interested parties are encouraged to contact Nichole Dunn at

Code4PA Codeathon Spans Three Pennsylvania Cities, Addresses Opioid Crisis

Code4PA’s 2018 Codeathon, a civic tech event with a focus on the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis, has expanded this year to include three cities throughout Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

Interested parties can now register for the event, which is slated to start on Sept. 21. This marks another year in which the annual event has expanded. Last year, it took place strictly in Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The addition of Pittsburgh gives it an even broader reach throughout the state. 

Hosted by the state-wide Code4PA civic tech group, the event taking place in September will convene technologists with a shared goal of planning tech projects aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic. Work will continue through the fall, with a second event planned for Oct. 20, during which teams will pitch their projects, with a grand prize winner receiving recognition from the governor’s office. 

The challenge for all participants is to use data from the state’s open data portal to generate ideas for the work. As in past years, the state is currently in the process of publishing new data sets for the event. A list of actively engaged data sets in process can be found here.

This Week’s GovTech Jobs

This week, a pair of new jurisdictions are looking to hire innovators to work in local government. 

San Jose, Calif., is currently in the market for an assistant CIO to join its team. Learn more about that posting here

Meanwhile, San Antonio, Texas, is looking to hire an innovation specialist to join its team. More information about that posting can be found here.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine