Non-profit

Code for America

Website:

www.codeforamerica.org

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Tax ID:

27-1067272

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $18,653,221
Expenses: $10,898,569
Assets: $16,914,424

Formation:

2009

Executive Directors:

Lou Moore

Zeryn Sarpangal

Type:

Nonprofit fellowship organization

Code for America is a nonprofit organization that works to develop digital and technological solutions for the expansion and more efficient delivery of federal, state, and local government benefits and services.

Background and Founder

Code for America was founded by Jennifer Pahlka, who served as the deputy chief technology officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Obama administration. [1] There, Pahlka founded the United States Digital Service, which recruits software engineers and other technology industry professionals for six-month to two-year “tours,” working with federal government agencies to upgrade digital services and technologies. [2] Pahlka was among the trio “of high-powered tech and telecom advisers” who developed technology policy proposals for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. [3] She also sits on the advisory board of Civic Hall Labs, a left-leaning nonprofit incubator. [4]

Code for America employs software engineers and technology experts and contracts with state and local governments to develop apps and technology solutions for government use, describing itself as the “Peace Corps for Geeks.” [5] It seeks to encourage “delivery-driven government,” which it defines as both improving “the delivery of government services using modern technology and best practices” as well as “learn[ing] to drive policy and operations around delivery and users.” [6]

Pahlka has said that the organization was founded to bridge the “big disjuncture between what we are served up as consumers and what we are served up as citizens,” in terms of digital connectivity and customer service. [7] Elsewhere, she has noted that when citizens are engaged with government by technology, their support for higher taxes to pay for government services increases, and that the group’s goal is to increase engagement with government and to “make bureaucracy sexy.” [8]

Activities

Code for America has three focus areas: criminal justice, improving the delivery of government benefits, and workforce development.

In its criminal justice portfolio, the group has developed the “Clear My Record” app, which algorithmically scans court records and identifies persons who are eligible to have criminal convictions vacated. In Los Angeles, district attorneys used Clear My Record to vacate more than 66,000 marijuana possession convictions. [9] Fellows also partnered with probation offices in Salt Lake City to build an app that permitted officers to communicate with supervisees by text message, permitting more daily contact between officers and their charges. [10]

In California, the group developed “GetCalFresh,” an app that permits people to apply for food stamps on smart phones and receive text messages and push notifications about essential steps in the application process. The app cut the average food stamps application time from 45 to eight minutes. [11] The app is now in use in almost all California counties. [12] Code for America also developed the “Get Your Refund” app, which assists eligible tax filers in accessing the Earned Income Tax Credit. [13]

Code for America is currently seeking state partners for projects relating to workforce development and job training. [14]

Code for America has also helped to develop “civic feedback” apps that allow citizens to give city planners and officials instant comment on issues of concern. In Philadelphia, Code for America helped to develop “Textizen,” an app advertised on bus shelters and inside public transit that permits people to answer questions posed by city planners, such as how to improve transit systems or how people use recreation centers. [15]

In preparation for the 2020 Census, Code for America partnered with several other groups to develop a “digital best practices” guide for cities and counties seeking guidance on how to support the Census Bureau in making its count. [16]

Funders

Code for America has received $1 million+ grants from a number of philanthropic and corporate funders, including Arnold Ventures LLC (which receives funding from the Arnold Foundation), Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s  Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It has also received substantial support from the Ford Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the California Wellness Foundation. [17]

References

  1. “Jennifer Pahlka.” Code for America. https://www.codeforamerica.org/people/jennifer-pahlka. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  2. “How We Work.” United States Digital Service. https://www.usds.gov/how-we-work. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  3. Tony Room. “Inside Clinton’s tech policy circle.” Politico. June 7, 2016. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/inside-clintons-tech-policy-circle-223992. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  4. “Jennifer Pahlka.” Code for America. https://www.codeforamerica.org/people/jennifer-pahlka. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  5. Caroline Cournoyer. “Should Local Government Be Run Like Silicon Valley?” Governing. April 2013. https://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-local-government-run-like-silicon-valley.html. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  6. “Delivery-Driven Government.” Code for America. https://www.codeforamerica.org/deliverydriven. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  7. Chrystia Freeland. “Remaking Government in a Wiki Age.” New York Times. Aug. 18, 2011. https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/us/19iht-letter19.html. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  8. Jennifer Pahlka. “Coding A Better Government.” TED. February 2012. https://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_pahlka_coding_a_better_government#t-609583. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  9. Whitney Kimball. “Tech Nonprofit Uses Automation to Get 66,000 Old Marijuana Convictions Dismissed in Los Angeles.” Gizmodo. February 14, 2020. https://gizmodo.com/tech-nonprofit-uses-automation-to-get-66-000-old-mariju-1841696576. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  10. Tim O’Reilly. “‘Stuff that Matters’ Design Challenge: 120 probation officers sharing one iPhone.” Code for America. July 1, 2016. https://www.codeforamerica.org/news/stuff-that-matters-design-challenge-120-probation-officers-sharing-one-iphone. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  11. Zack Quaintance. “Meeting Users Where They Are.” Government Technology. March 2018. https://www.govtech.com/civic/Meeting-Users-Where-They-Are.html. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  12. “GetCalFresh.” Code for America. https://www.codeforamerica.org/programs/getcalfresh. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  13. “About Us.” Get Your Refund. https://www.getyourrefund.org/about-us. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  14. “Workforce Development.” Code for America. https://www.codeforamerica.org/focus-areas/workforce-development. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  15. Caroline Cournoyer. “How Generation X is Shaping Government.” Governing. May 2013. https://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-how-generation-x-shaping-government.html. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  16. Zack Quaintance. “As 2020 Census Approaches, Guidance Abounds for Local Gov.” Government Technology. February 14, 2020. https://www.govtech.com/policy/As-2020-Census-Approaches-Guidance-Abounds-for-Local-Gov.html. Accessed March 19, 2020. ^
  17. Code for America. “Our Supporters.” Code for America. Accessed March 26, 2020. https://www.codeforamerica.org/our-supporters. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2010

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $18,653,221 $10,898,569 $16,914,424 $254,087 N $17,136,243 $1,338,692 $14,417 $976,123 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $12,877,285 $9,532,348 $9,034,769 $129,082 N $11,312,006 $1,557,181 $4,583 $549,261 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $10,448,960 $11,878,587 $6,052,640 $491,889 N $7,657,197 $2,783,023 $3,378 $695,206 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $11,488,691 $9,617,853 $7,283,679 $293,300 N $8,352,604 $3,131,702 $3,318 $952,842 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $4,186,544 $3,340,932 $4,710,472 $566,024 N $3,546,557 $637,268 $2,093 $525,167 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $5,793,604 $5,036,502 $3,482,795 $183,959 N $3,527,747 $2,254,563 $3,286 $317,833 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $5,291,248 $3,623,208 $2,561,496 $19,871 N $4,867,781 $420,746 $2,721 $347,455 PDF
    2010 Jun Form 990EZ $283,100 $80,256 $259,285 $56,441 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Code for America

    972 Mission Street, 5th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94103-2994