The funding commitment will be spread across the brigades over the next five years. In addition to Philadelphia, the benefitting brigades are Miami, Charlotte, Detroit, San Jose, St. Paul and Boulder — all cities where the Knight Foundation operates. The commitment comes from the foundation’s ongoing Smart Cities program, which aims to facilitate technology’s shaping of communities, while helping residents have a voice in the way that tech is deployed.
A foundation spokesperson said the funds go toward providing one-on-one consulting with brigade leaders, monthly training workshops and support for volunteer retention efforts. It will also go toward providing tech tools, project management support, and one-on-one support for fundraising materials, trainings and implementation.
Lilian Coral, Knight’s director of national strategy and technology innovation, called out a project Code for Philly worked on with Penn Medicine — CHIME, a COVID-19 impact model for hospitals — as one standout way local brigades are using technology to better their communities.
“Examples like Code for Philly exemplify the approach,” Coral said via a spokesperson. “This open-source tool helped hospital leaders at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic see up-to-date resource projections, including patient hospitalization numbers, ICU beds and ventilators.”
Coral said a goal of the funding is to see if more directed technical assistance and support can help strengthen the capacity of brigades to complete more projects and amplify their impact. She also hopes it will develop a blueprint of sustainable models for brigades to better integrate into their cities’ tech ecosystems.
Throughout 2020, Code for America’s 85 chapters and 25,000 volunteers developed more than 100 COVID-19 specific projects, and 307 total projects.
“All levels of government in the digital age should work for the people and by the people to build strong and resilient communities,” Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria said in a statement. “The Knight Foundation’s latest commitment allows us to continue to meet community needs and build local capacity for our Brigade volunteers to do the important work of advancing the digital practices that will benefit the public.”