Catherine Bracy

Boston, St. Louis civic tech teams get $200,000 to improve the lives of low-income people

Civic technology teams in Boston and St. Louis were awarded $200,000 each to leverage data and technology to improve the lives of low-income residents as part of the new Civic Tech and Data Collaborative sponsored by Living Cities, Code for America and Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership.

The Boston team will focus on connecting youth to summer jobs and the St. Louis team on making it easier to navigate the criminal justice system.

“Every day, city residents navigate a maze of systems to complete basic tasks like accessing government services or paying traffic tickets,” said Urban Institute President Sarah Rosen Wartell and Code For America Director of Community Organizing Catherine Bracy on the Living Cities blog announcing the initiative. “These tasks, inconvenient for everyone, can be so numerous, burdensome and time-consuming for lower-income people that they can amount to a job unto themselves.”

“When it comes to addressing poverty in America’s cities, our pace of change is too slow, and the scale too small,” said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht in a prepared statement. “We want to prove that the disruptive power of data and technology can be harnessed to achieve dramatically better results in the lives of low-income people, faster.

Financial support for the initiative is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Read the full announcement and press release for details.

Hack like Ben Franklin

Code for America’s Catherine Bracy has a great TED Talk on civic hacking and one of America’s greatest civic hackers, Ben Franklin, inspired a brigade of do-good developers across the world.

Her Mexico City anecdote is an especially inspiring example of civic hacking at its best, as Bracy says, creating “a twenty-first century ecosystem of participation. They’re creating a whole new set of ways for citizens to get involved besides voting or signing a petition or protesting. They can actually build government.”

Obama’s IT ‘trauma team’ and recruiting Silicon Valley

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Photo: U.S. Health & Human Services

Steven Brill has a great in-depth, behind-the-scenes write-up on the IT aftermath and the team that helped steer the project to success.

Brill’s “Obama’s Trauma Team” features U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, Obama fix-it man Jeff Zients, presidential innovation fellows, venture capitalist John Doerr, members of Obama’s campaign tech team and some of Silicon Valley’s brightest entrepreneurs.

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