“We’ve gone into this agreement to say,” said Mike Fried, Code for Baltimore co-captain. “Part of HACK Baltimore is going to be identifying challenges, getting groups to work on them and giving them the resources to do that. And what we can bring in, is somewhat of the framework and oversight of that piece.”
Both organizations are embedded in Baltimore’s civic tech scene. HACK Baltimore works to build infrastructure at the idea germination and startup creation phase. Code for Baltimore, the local brigade of the Code for America network, brings expertise and skills in the project design of creating an app or software, which are the hard skills that produce a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
“The formula that HACK Baltimore is putting together is going require someone to take these ideas that have been embraced by the community as viable, and they’re able to turn it into something real,” said Dionne Joyner-Weems, co-chair of HACK Baltimore.
Add in HACK Baltimore’s partnership with the Emerging Technology Center’s AccelerateBaltimore program. This means civic tech entrepreneurs and the communities they serve have an infrastructure that can take a civic tech idea from original idea to MVP to seed capital and investors for a startup. The idea is that community input and partnership will be there every step of the way.
“Baltimore has this huge population of folks that are on the ground floor doing the work and so many rich assets,” said Delali Dzirasa, HACK Baltimore Co-Chair, about civic tech innovation. “What I think we struggle with is connecting the dots. Connecting these dots and creating frameworks so people can be successful. We believe Baltimore has all of the right ingredients to be the model of how to do social innovation and city tech globally, if we can connect some of these things.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-