Code for America

Code for America
Codeforamerica logo.png
Established September 2009
Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka[1]
Location San Francisco, CA

Code for America is a non-partisan, non-political 501(c)3 organization founded in 2009 to bring web-industry professionals to work with city governments in the United States in order to promote openness, participation, and efficiency in municipal governments.[2]

The New York Times described Code for America as “a new nonprofit project... which aims to import the efficiency of the Web into government infrastructures” and “[tries] to make working in government fun and creative.” [3]


Founding and History

In 2009, founder Jennifer Pahlka was working with O'Reilly Media at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, DC. A conversation with Andrew Greenhill, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff of the City of Tucson, sparked the initial idea for Code for America, when he said “You need to pay attention to the local level because cities are in major crisis. Revenues are down, costs are up -- if we don't change how cities work, they're going to fail."[4] The two began discussing plans for a program that eventually became Code for America, “a one-year fellowship recruiting developers to work for city government.”[4] With support from web entrepreneur Leonard Lin, Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly Media, and technologist Clay A. Johnson, among others, the organization was launched in September 2009.[4]

According to their website, “Code for America helps city governments become more transparent, connected and efficient by connecting the talents of cutting-edge web developers with people who deliver city services and want to embrace the transformative power of the web to achieve more impact with less money. Inspired in part by Teach for America, CfA works with city officials and leading web development talent to identify and then develop web solutions that can then be shared and rolled out more broadly to cities across America.”[5]

Fellowship Program

Code for America connects city governments and web professionals through the Code for America Fellowship program.[6]

The first year of the fellowship program began in January 2011. Twenty fellows were selected from 360 applicants, resulting in a 5.6% acceptance rate.[7] Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Seattle were the four cities were selected to participate in the 2011 program.[8]


The inaugural 2011 fellowship program will launch four projects in Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.[8] Each city will partner with a team of five web programmers selected for the fellowship. Over 11 months, the fellows and city government will collaborate to develop a web application to solve a civic problem identified by the city in their project proposals.[7] The completed applications will be released as open-source for any city government to use or adapt.[6]

The Civic Commons project was launched in September 2010. A coordinated effort between Code for America, OpenPlans, and the District of Columbia's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), the project is focused on reducing public IT costs by helping government entities share code and best practices.[9][10] In March 2011, Civic Commons helped make the Federal IT dashboard freely available to all levels of government, thereby providing local governments with tools to monitor project effectiveness and evaluate the allocation of resources.[11]

Board of Directors

Board of Advisors


  • Jennifer Pahlka (Founder and Executive Director)
  • Alissa Black (City Program Director)
  • Dan Melton (Technical Director)
  • Abhi Nemani (Director of Strategy and Communications)
  • Meghan Reilly (Operations Director)


External links


  1. ^ "Who We Are". Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  2. ^ "What We Do". Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  3. ^ Bilton, Nick (2010-07-06). "Changing Government and Tech With Geeks". New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c Kamenetz, Anya (2010-11-29). "How an Army of Techies Is Taking On City Hall". Fast Company.,0. 
  5. ^ "About Code for America". Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Code for America Chooses 20 Developers as Fellows". Mashable. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  7. ^ a b "Code for America Fellows to Work with City Governments". Government Technology. 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  8. ^ a b "Hacker Driven Code for America Kicks Off Today". Fast Company. 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  9. ^ "Civic Commons Launched to Help Government Share Technology and Cut Costs". Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  10. ^ "Civic Commons - About". Civic Commons. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  11. ^ "Cost-Saving IT Dashboard Software Now Available to All Levels of Government". Code for America. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 

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