Code for America's Quest to Save the Brigades

Swelling numbers coupled with a temporary setback in fundraising have prompted the civic tech nonprofit Code for America (CfA) to begin restructuring its volunteer Brigade program. The undertaking, arguably one of the most pivotal the group has addressed since its start in 2009, aims to construct an operating model that can sustain its continued expansion. Since 2012, the San Francisco-based organization’s Brigade program has seen aggressive growth in its work to provide civic tech and open data tools to cities nationwide. CfA used part of a $1.5 million grant from Google to launch the Brigades, and in the five years that the program has existed, it’s increased its ranks from 19 chapters to now more than 80, with thousands of volunteers in cities throughout the US.

The program’s dramatic rise, however, has also pushed costs upward, and in 2015 a fundraising shortfall led CfA to freeze its financial support for Brigade operating expenses, events and meet-ups. CfA Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka said in a letter that this funding gap has since been closed by donors, but to ensure sustainability, the program must identify a new model for operations that isn’t as dependent on financial support from its parent organization.


Code for America's Quest to Save the Brigades