Knight Foundation helps bring Code for America to Macon

Macon, Ga. – Thursday, June 23, 2011 – Emerging from a pool of more than 20 local governments, the city of Macon has been selected to receive fellows from Code for America.

Based on Teach for America, the program recruits the top talent from the technology industry to give a year of service to build innovative web applications for city governments that make them more open, participatory and efficient.  

Macon is one of the first cities selected because of its proposed project, community support and the opportunity for impact. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will fund the position for 2012, at no cost to taxpayers. Knight’s funding is part of its Technology for Engagement Initiative, which funds projects that help communities use technology for action.

“At Knight Foundation we believe democracy thrives when people and communities are connected to one another and have open and timely exchange of information,” said Beverly Blake, Macon program director for Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities. “This project will enhance the City of Macon’s ability to connect with our citizens - and for citizens to participate in the future vitality of the city.”

Said Knight Foundation National Program Director Damian Thorman: “As a foundation, we look for new ways to bring people together to act in their community’s interest. Harnessing digital technology is one way to inspire neighbors to work together and strengthen their communities.”

“This is an exciting development and we’re looking to help formulate and put into place new Web applications to make it easier for citizens to be informed about and engaged with our city,” said Mayor Robert Reichert.

Through a competitive process, Code for America chooses cities whose proposals reflected a deep understanding of the power that technology can bring to local governments. The 2012 fellows will build on the success of Code for America’s inaugural projects in Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle.

In Macon, Code for America Fellows will help increase the avenues for meaningful connections between Macon's citizens and their government. The project’s goal will be to ensure that residents interested in making their neighborhoods a better place to live have a tool to collaborate and organize with others -- all the while getting the support they need from the city government to be effective.

“One promising aspect of the program is to join the best thinking from the web industry with the best thinking from cities,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America. As part of the program, Code for America brings web industry innovators and thought leaders to the city to meet with key stakeholders inside city government to collaboratively brainstorm challenges, opportunities, and solutions. “But we rely on community support and input too,” Pahlka added. Citizens interested in sharing their ideas on how technology can be used to boost civic engagement in Macon are encouraged to visit http://codeforamerica.org/macon and share their thoughts. Those ideas will shape what the three Code for America fellows in Macon develop for the city, and the solution built for Macon will be available to any other city or government in the world to reuse.

The 2012 Code for America Macon fellows will begin their fellowship in January 2012, and will be spending the month of February in Macon, interviewing civic leaders. Throughout the year, they will be based in San Francisco, with the other 20-25 CfA fellows, working together and collaborating, with frequent visits back to the city for research, testing and deployment. Applications are still open for the fellowship. Selected fellows will not only receive a living-wage stipend, travel expenses, and healthcare, but also the training and support to be positioned as a leader in business, public service, or both. The deadline for applications is July 31: http://codeforamerica.org/apply

About Code for America

Code for America (CfA) connects the talent of the tech industry with local governments to make cities more open, responsive, and efficient. Inspired in part by Teach for America, CfA recruits civic-minded, tech-savvy individuals to work with industry and governmental leaders to develop innovative applications that can be used in cities across the country.  http://codeforamerica.org

About  Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.

For more information contact:

Abhi Nemani, Code for America, abhi@codeforamerica.org, 909-206-2220

Keith Moffett, City of Macon, keith.moffett@macon.ga.us, 478-751-7170

Beverly Blake, Knight Foundation, blake@knightfoundation.org, 478-301-5011

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.