Non-profit

U.S. Digital Response

Website:

www.usdigitalresponse.org

Location:

Oakland, CA

Tax ID:

86-3759883

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Type:

Technology Services

Founded:

2020

CEO:

Jessica Cole

U.S. Digital Response (“USDR”) formed during the COVID-19 pandemic to help state and local governments address immediate digital needs by providing volunteer technical expertise. In 2022, it received a grant as part of a controversial program funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that raised concerns about private funding of election reforms. [1]

Background

U.S. Digital Response was started in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist state and local governments with online service delivery needs by providing volunteer technical expertise. [2] One of its first projects was to partner with the City of Seattle to develop COVID-19 testing sites and sign-up systems. [3]

USDR expanded to include digital development and implementation support for vaccine access, unemployment insurance, federal funding tools, and election management. [4]

In 2022, USDR became a member of the newly formed U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, [5] a collaboration between the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), Center for Civic Design (CCD), Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), The Elections Group, Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, and Prototyping Systems Lab at UC Davis. [6]

In its first two years of existence, USDR partnered with over 230 governments and nonprofit organizations and provided technology staff and volunteers to support over 300 projects. [7] It has continued to enhance products developed to be reusable across state and local government organizations. [8]

Programs

To support vaccine access, U.S. Digital Response worked with the New Jersey Office of Innovation to develop a COVID-19 vaccination appointment finder online, which was then made available to other states and vaccine providers. [9]

USDR partnered with nine state workforce agencies and the Department of Labor to work on improved unemployment insurance processes as volumes grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. [10]

USDR developed an online tool to help states identify and apply for and track federal grants and funding associated with the billions of dollars in stimulus packages from the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, and infrastructure acts. [11]

USDR partnered with elections offices to develop or enhance tools and processes for elections. In 2020 USDR worked with 36 government and non-government organizations to increase voting access during the pandemic. [12]

USDR partnered with election reform advocacy group Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) and election design group Center for Civic Design (CCD) to create a reusable election website template. [13]

Controversy

In 2022, USDR received a multi-million dollar grant from election administration advocacy group the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL). [14] This group received controversial grants from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, which caused concern about private funding going to states and elections organizations under the guise of pandemic relief and possibly impacting election results. [15]

Partners

Election administration advocacy group Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) was founded in 2015 by Tiana Epps-Johnson, Whitney May, and Donny Bridges, who were all formerly from left-progressive group New Organizing Institute (NOI). [16] CTCL funders and partners include left-of-center Knight Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), The Voting Information Project (VIP), and Democracy Fund. [17]

Center for Civic Design (CCD) is an elections design research organization that provides field guides and design recommendations for election administration tools such as poll worker instructions, voter messaging, and drop boxes. [18] CCD funders and partners include left-of-center James Irvine Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Barr Foundation, and Democracy Fund. [19]

Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME) is an elections advocacy group primarily advocating automatic voter registration. [20]

The Elections Group is an election consulting group for state and local election offices run by former election administrators [21] Jennifer Morrell and Noah Praetz. [22]

U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is a coalition of left-of-center election reform organizations spearheaded by CTCL. Much of its focus is on election reforms such as automatic voter registration and permanent vote-by-mail. [23] It is a 5-year $80 million program funded by the Audacious Project, a funding mechanism of the TED Foundation, [24] and invited every election department in the United States to join. [25]

Financials

In 2022, USDR transitioned from a fiscally sponsored organization to a standalone nonprofit. As of mid-2022 USDR has not filed an independent tax return. [26]

USDR donors include Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Argosy Foundation. [27]

Leadership

In 2021 U.S. Digital Response founding CEO Raylene Yung moved to a post as executive director of the Technology Modernization Fund for the General Services Administration in the Biden administration. [28] Prior to USDR, she had worked in the Technology Strategy & Delivery team for the Biden-Harris Transition team and as a technology policy fellow at the Aspen Institute. [29]

Jessica Cole is a co-founder and was appointed as interim CEO in 2021. Before USDR, Cole was outreach director for Panorama Education, which has been criticized for promoting critical race theory; [30] worked as a fellow at Code for America, which provides technology services to state and local governments and is funded by left-of-center organizations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Blue Meridian Partners; [31] and as a technology policy fellow at the Aspen Institute. [32]

Additional co-founders included Jessica Watson, Emily Barlow, and Raphael Lee. [33]

References

  1. Hayden Ludwig and Sarah Lee. “States Banning or Restricting ‘Zuck Bucks’—UPDATED 04/28/2022.” Capital Research Center. April 28, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/states-banning-zuck-bucks/ ^
  2. “EAC Technology Feature.” YouTube – U.S. Election Assistance Commission. September 21, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtQfB_nRCtM&t=329s ^
  3. “U.S. Digital Response 2020 Highlights.” Medium.com. December 23, 2020. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://medium.com/u-s-digital-response/u-s-digital-response-2020-highlights-a8039de4262c ^
  4. “What We Do.” U.S. Digital Response. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://www.usdigitalresponse.org/ ^
  5. LinkedIn – U.S. Digital Response post May, 2022. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/company/usdr/posts/?feedView=all ^
  6. “Partners.” U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.electionexcellence.org/partners ^
  7. “U.S. Digital Response 2021 in Review.” Medium.com. December 21, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://medium.com/u-s-digital-response/demos-not-memos-in-2021-a-look-back-ec770f29c5de ^
  8. “EAC Technology Feature.” YouTube – U.S. Election Assistance Commission. September 21, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtQfB_nRCtM&t=329s ^
  9. “Vaccine Access.” U.S. Digital Response – What We Do. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://www.usdigitalresponse.org/program-areas/vaccine-access ^
  10. Unemployment Insurance.” U.S. Digital Response – What We Do. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://www.usdigitalresponse.org/program-areas/unemployment-insurance ^
  11. “USDR Grant Identification Tool Demo.” YouTube. May 11, 2021. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaRT-iqwbeo ^
  12. “U.S. Digital Response 2020 Highlights.” Medium.com. December 23, 2020. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://medium.com/u-s-digital-response/u-s-digital-response-2020-highlights-a8039de4262c ^
  13. “Building an Election Website.” Center for Tech and Civic Life – Our Work – Courses. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://www.techandciviclife.org/course/building-an-election-website/ ^
  14. Benjamin Freed. “U.S. Digital Response launches new election program.” Statescoop. April 26, 2022. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://statescoop.com/us-digital-response-election-program/ ^
  15. Hayden Ludwig and Sarah Lee. “States Banning or Restricting ‘Zuck Bucks’—UPDATED 04/28/2022.” Capital Research Center. April 28, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://capitalresearch.org/article/states-banning-zuck-bucks/ ^
  16. “Center for Tech and Civic Life.” Ballotpedia. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://ballotpedia.org/Center_for_Tech_and_Civic_Life_(CTCL) ^
  17.  “Key funders and partners.” Center for Tech and Civic Life – About. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.techandciviclife.org/key-funders-and-partners/# ^
  18. “2020, the year of decades.” Center for Civic Design – About. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://civicdesign.org/ccd-in-2020/ ^
  19. “Key supporters and partners.” Center for Civic Design – About. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://civicdesign.org/about/ ^
  20. “Who We Are.” Center for Secure and Modern Elections. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.modernelections.org/who-we-are.html ^
  21. “Partners.” Center for Civic Design-About. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://civicdesign.org/about/our-team/ ^
  22. “Our Team”. The Elections Group –About. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.electionsgroup.com/our-team ^
  23. Hayden Ludwig. “Making Vote By Mail Permanent.” The American Conservative. April 27, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/making-vote-by-mail-permanent/ ^
  24. “CTCL Launches the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence.” Center for Tech and Civic Life. Accessed June 10, 2022. https://www.techandciviclife.org/us-alliance-for-election-excellence-launch/ ^
  25. “An Election Redesign to Restore Trust in US Democracy | Tiana Epps-Johnson | TED.” YouTube. May 6, 2022. Accessed June 9, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3itrpciAF4I ^
  26. U.S. Digital Response.” GuideStar. Accessed June 4, 2022. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/86-3759883 ^
  27. “Contact Us.” U.S. Digital Response. Accessed June 7, 2022. https://www.usdigitalresponse.org/contact-us ^
  28. “GSA Names Raylene Yung Technology Modernization Fund Executive Director.” U.S. General Services Administration. September 7, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/newsroom/news-releases/gsa-names-raylene-yung-technology-modernization-fund-executive-director-09072021 ^
  29. “Raylene Yung.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayleney/ ^
  30. Alex Nester. “GOP Congressman Questions Garland’s Ties to Woke Learning Company.” Washington Free Beacon. October 14, 2021. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://freebeacon.com/biden-administration/gop-congressman-questions-garlands-ties-to-woke-learning-company/ ^
  31. “Our Supporters.” Code for America – About Us. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://codeforamerica.org/about-us/our-supporters/ ^
  32. “Jessica Cole.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 5, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicamcole/ ^
  33. “Meet the Team.” U.S. Digital Response – About. Accessed June 10, 2022. https://www.usdigitalresponse.org/about ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 2021

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    U.S. Digital Response


    Oakland, CA