Local Tech Company Realizes Social Mission to Mobile Citizen Engineers, Supports Initiative with City of Boulder
Code for America (CfA) is a national nonprofit organization that is championing the civic tech movement by forging partnerships between local governments and citizens. The organization builds open source technology and organizes a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective and easy to use.
Locally, Rally Software recently announced a major investment to support Code for America. Through its Rally for Impact Foundation, the company gave a $50,000 grant to help grow the Brigade program and committed to share their agile software development tools and expertise so civic tech volunteers can work faster, more efficiently, and more collaboratively to achieve better results.
In addition, the City of Boulder recently announced an initiative to re-energize and broaden community engagement with the help of Code for America. Rally is supporting this local effort with an additional $10,000 in grant funding and partnering closely with the local Brigade, Code for Boulder.
We asked Geri Mitchell-Brown, heading up Corporate Social Responsibility for Rally, to explain more about how the company got involved.
Boulder Chamber: Geri, welcome and thank you for joining us. First, tell us why Rally chose to support Code for America.
Rally Software: Two years ago, Rally announced a strategic social mission to mobilize citizen engineers, which is aligned with our core business strategy and offerings. Bringing our social mission to fruition required two essential ingredients: program funding and a social impact partner. When Rally received series D venture funding and issued stock in 2011, the company set aside 1 percent of shares to create our Foundation. After our successful IPO in 2013, those shares were sold for $655,000 and the Rally For Impact Foundation was born.
Creating the Foundation provided the long-term funding; next we had to find the right partner. We chose Code for America because their work aligns so well with our core business value and their Brigade program needs what we what uniquely offer in the marketplace: software tools, services and training that improves team communication, coordination, collaboration and project management.
BC: Tell us more about the Brigade program and why Rally is focused on it.
RS: We’re excited to be sponsoring the Brigade program, which is a citizen-driven network of 4,500 volunteers across the country that work together with municipal government, nonprofits and other civic groups to create software technology solutions to address their community’s problems and opportunities. We’re investing big time in the Code for America partnership in 2015! In addition to the $50,000 grant, we’re giving the Brigades open access to our software tools and tapping into the talent and expertise of our people to help them realize the benefits of being an Agile team. We know from experience with Rally customers that working together faster, more efficiently, and more collaboratively to achieve better results will foster civic innovation that benefits everyone. Using an open source approach, Brigade members design and build solutions that can be shared with the Brigade network and easily re-deployed in other cities.
BC: What is Rally’s involvement with the project between the City of Boulder and Code For America?
RS: We’re so excited to see the civic tech movement expand here in Boulder! By partnering with Code for America, the City is demonstrating a commitment to increase and improve civic engagement – not just in the identification of new tools and processes, but to take it a step further and involve the public in the design and creation of those tools. As the City explains in the announcement, they chose to work with Code for America because they specialize in reinventing the way residents collaborate and interact with government. Because we believe strongly in this citizen engineer approach, the Rally For Impact Foundation has invested $10,000 in this local initiative and is supporting the local Brigade, Code for Boulder.
BC: Code for Boulder is hosting an event this month that focuses on housing, which is a hot topic right now. Tell us more about the event.
RS: The event, which is called “Crafting Civic Tech: The Housing Edition”, is about broadening and deepening civic engagement to support the research phase of City of Boulder and Code for America’s initiative. The issue of housing certainly has strong community “pull” right now, given the increase in local development projects – and the City wants public input in preparation for the update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan this year. So focusing on housing is ideal for gaining insight about how the people who live and work in Boulder can be involved in key issues facing the City. Crafting Civic Tech will be a full day of learning, ideation, and collaboration. Experienced facilitators from Rally Software will be guiding participants throughout the day, using a citizen engineering approach to define and validate the problem. We invite anyone with an interest in listening and learning about civic engagement and/or housing to join us for an all-day adventure.
BC: In closing what does Rally hope to achieve by supporting Code for America?
RS: Number one is to put into action our mission to mobilize citizen engineers. To accomplish that we will create opportunities for our employees and customers to learn about, experience and join the civic tech movement, whether through Code for America or another organization that will utilize their professional skills. We will share Rally’s tools, training and talented people with the Brigades so they can realize the same benefit we see in working with our customers – working more collaboratively will increase their efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit of their community and the growing Brigade network. We believe that by working together, citizen engineers can leverage their energy and expertise to foster civic innovation and build bridges with local government. After all, local government affects every one of us, so we can all take responsibility for improving community outcomes.
BC: Thanks for giving us some insights into Rally’s social mission and your new partnerships with Code for America nationally and Code for Boulder locally. We’re looking forward to watching the partnerships unfold.
RS: It’s such a pleasure to share our excitement with the Boulder community. Thank you.