Diversity & Inclusion
Code for Philly / Events / Guest posts / Hackathons / Municipal government

Don’t know code? Don’t be fazed. Code for Philly needs you

The CfA brigade just kicked off its Civic Engagement Launchpad and is looking for a diverse range of skill sets. Good civic solutions depend on them.

A Code for Philly brainstorming session, complete with white boards and post-it notes. (Photo courtesy of Code for Philly)
This is a guest post by Code for Philly's Toni McIntyre, published as part of a media partnership between Code for Philly and Technical.ly.
“I don’t know how to code, can I still work on a Launchpad project?”

It’s a question we hear a lot, and it’s easy to see why. It can be hard to tell what tech events are open to a wide array of professional backgrounds and which ones require coding proficiency. That’s not even taking into account how intimidating it can be for non-coders to go to hackathons or tech events in the first place.

That said: you can and absolutely should come to Launchpad and work on a project.

Join us

Something the tech community in general needs to do a better job at communicating is that it takes many different personalities and many different skill sets to achieve success with a tech project.

At Code for Philly we love to point to Dave Brindley as an example of this.

Dave is the project leader, and original ideator, behind Not in Philly, a project that grew from Dave and his trash picker to become a city-wide litter pick-up movement. Dave did that, with the help of his project partner and teammates. And Dave can’t change his WiFi password.

Dave brought other valuable skills to Not in Philly. Coding was handled by his partner on the project, Yury. Dave, whose day job is campus minister at the University of Pennsylvania, focused on making connections with civic leaders and non profits on behalf of the project.

“Networking stuff, I love that,” Dave said. A sentiment that is not held by many others, I’d wager, and ultimately why Dave’s contributions to the project were so invaluable. A great project can flounder if you don’t have someone who can speak, and speak well, on the project and why it’s needed. Watch his Fast Forward Philly speech to see for yourself just how good Dave is at speaking about Not in Philly.

Dave understood, too, that coming to a tech event with no coding skills can be pretty anxiety-inducting.

“As someone who is outside of that culture, it’s pretty intimidating,” Dave admitted. “Even to just show up to a meeting.”

You can do it, though. Dave did it. And Miriam Peskowitz did it. She wrote about her experience at her first Code for Philly event, how she too felt intimidated and anxious at first. Miriam quickly found, though, that she had skills outside of coding that project teams found valuable.

“Code is central to creating an app or software,” she said in her event recap for Technical.ly. “But good teams really are about more than just code.”

“More than just code” can include:

  • Project management
  • Product management
  • Fundraising
  • Content strategy
  • Community and market research
  • Graphic & UI Design
  • Quantitative Analysis & Data Management
  • Community organizers

It can also include this:


Knowing coding languages is not and should not be the barrier that excludes you from getting involved with Code for Philly or attending an event like Civic Engagement Launchpad. Our civic-tech projects will need you and your ability to do complicated research or press palms at a fundraising event or create an eye-catching logo in order to come together.

We know it can be intimidating. Do it anyway.

We hope to see you at Launchpad.

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