“We’ve seen incredible advances in technology platforms over the past decade that have lowered entry barriers for new life-enriching products and services, but not for many of our local, state, or regional governments that are constrained by legacy investments in outdated, closed software. Given heightened attention to government spending, there’s not only the need, but an urgency to engage with new, disruptive startups.” - Aneesh Chopra, Former CTO, US Government
Code for America (CfA) is a non-profit that's trying to make the connection between start-ups and government. Two years ago, CfA launched with a fellowship program to pair passionate technologists with innovative city governments to build new solutions to civic problems -- they call it a peace corps for geeks.
Last year, Google.org made a grant to Code for America to expand and scale their work. In particular, Code for America was looking to complement its work inside government with energy from the outside, from companies looking to provide new services and experiences to citizens. They wanted to support “civic startups,” startups that not only made a profit but also made a better government.
Out of that support came Code for America’s idea for a first-of-its-kind civic startup accelerator, which is now taking apllications: codeforamerica.org/accelerator
What’s a civic startup? Consider SeeClickFix, which allows citizens to report neighborhood issues, or Brightscope that lets you compare your 401K options using open government data, or GovLoop, which connects government employees to collaborate and share knowledge. Code for America is looking to build upon these examples to create a new ecosystem of civic startups.
The CfA Accelerator will “turbo-charge” select civic startups by providing them a springboard to amplify market awareness of their product, additional funding (a $25K seed grant), business mentoring specific to the Gov 2.0 space, and introductions to a broad network of civic leaders and potential investors.
Code for America is recruiting teams in three key target areas: 1) providing services on top of open government data 2) bringing modern web technologies directly to governments; 3) changing the way citizens ask, get, or need services from government.
The program is being led by entrepreneur Ron Bouganim with the support of advisors, Caterina Fake (co-founder of Flickr and Pinwheel), Peter Schwartz (founder of the Global Business Network), Ron Conway, (partner at SV Angel), and Aneesh Chopra (former CTO of the United States).
The first class will kick off this August, and the deadline for applications is June 1. Apply now.
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