Code for Change

Your Mission:  Find out what internet enabled technology tools would best help your constituents and start creating them!


To be sure we produce relevant tools communities need, Code for Change will get the wheels turning with the least amount of effort. This Code for Change cycle culminates on June 1st and 2nd, 2012 in New York City. Our challenge to you during April and May, is to help us define and collect the most pressing problems that might be helped by technology intervention and get started on solutions.

As a service agency you will:

  • Deepen your understanding of the technology needs of your community and organization
  • Get support to create an App Development Challenge Brief leading to developers to offer you pro-bono or contract services
  • Get your challenges and app ideas published to developer forums and featured in June to technologists and investors
  • Create prototype or real solutions side by side with technologists and enter to win prizes
  • Develop critical understanding and language to fundraise for future technology solutions
As a technologist or producer you will:
  • Gain immediate access to new or emerging business ideas
  • Work with product teams and present your work to leaders in the field
  • Stand to win cash and contract prizes for your work

Here’s how to do it.

Service Community

1. Let us know you’re out there.

15-30 minutes.

Email us directly, use the contact form or call your Code for Change contact.  Just say yes! We will help you with the rest.

2. Summarize what you know already.

< 60 minutes. Goal: Know your user

Summarize observations on how your constituents are using internet-enabled tools. This should be no more than a paragraph. The purpose of this is to; show that there is a market need, demonstrate enthusiasm and verify adoption capacity in your community of impact.  If you do not have a constituent survey use the questions on this worksheet. Email this to your Code for Change contact or just hold onto it for the Challenge Brief form.

3. Create your Challenge Brief

< 4 hours Goal: Identify the problem and appropriate platforms

Write a precise challenge brief based on specific difficulties you or your constituents face, that might be remedied by a mobile, web or game application. Clearly define  your challenges, opportunities, resources and gaps using this questionnaire, or simply answer all the questions on the Challenge Brief form. Take some time and if possible include the people you serve, your board members or inter-departmental teams. We will be holding three video conferences to help answer questions and develop the Briefs.  These Challenges will be published to the website to be used to help gather your team.  Challenge Brief entry form.  *This is not the time to start suggesting app solutions.  Please do not say, “Oh, if I had an app that did this…..”  We’ve found that taking a step to deeply define the challenge will greatly help the solution that will come shortly!

Technology + Service Communities

4. Match making and Solutions

2-8 hours (or more). Goal: Build a team and start on solutions

At the end of April we will collect all Challenge Briefs and tag those that are similar while also reaching out to technology networks to find people who may already be or are looking to be working on Solutions to fit your Challenge.  As we group you during the month of May, we will ask you to work together in person or virtually.  You will be invited to start with a paper prototype of your app using the Paper Prototyping templates, if not start working together with your technology team to create the real thing. Once you have a solution outlined,  enter your Solutions with this form.  Or see examples here.  We will also hold three group webinars to guide you through the solution process, help with project planning or match making and answer questions (dates to follow). *This is the part where you do get to say, “I wish I had an app that does….”

From May 1st onward you can start working on your app solutions.


5. Solutions and Voting

1-2 hours. Goal: Build on solutions and gather public and network input

Any time during the month of May you and your new team can post and continue to edit your Solution descriptions at the website. (Once a solution is published the person who entered it becomes the editor.) You can invite friends, colleagues, constituents, and the general public to vote and comment on your solution. Publishing your solution early allows you to get more public votes before the final event and to get critical feedback on your work. Sample Solutions

6. The Final Code-a-thon and Awards

6-24 hours

On June 1st and 2nd, 2012 all participants who can, will convene at NYU.  The purpose of this event is to allow any teams who have not yet met in person to meet and finalize their applications or prototypes.  You will sequester your last public votes, commit to some user testing and ultimately present your applications to a panel of judges to compete for various cash, product and service prizes as they become announced.



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