We’re 5 Years Old! Here’s What We’ve Learned and What Comes Next
April 20, 2022
Five years ago, a small group of civic technologists came together with a simple vision: to help communities across Canada harness the power of digital for the public good. That was the beginning of Code for Canada.
Since then, a lot has happened. We’ve grown into a thriving organization with 12 dedicated staff and over 50(!) fellowship alumni who have worked on projects with organizations and governments across the country.
We’ve done a lot of work we’re proud of — our 2018 fellows improved the online experience of veterans applying for benefits, our 2020 fellows developed the Policy Difference Engine to help policy-makers understand the impacts of policy changes before they’re made, and our inclusive UX service GRIT worked with Pathways to Care on a searchable database of mental health resources for Black youth — and that's just a small sampling of what we've done!
As we’ve grown, so has the Canadian civic tech movement. Today, there are ten local community groups working across the country to build digital products and services for the public good.
We’ve accomplished some pretty cool things in our fifth year
This year, we continued to grow and pivot to achieve our mission. I came on board as our new Executive Director in May (👋🏻 ) and was joined by Laura Chang as our Director of Strategic Partnerships + Outreach, and Ruth Birman as our new Director of Delivery, rounding out our first-ever, all-female leadership team. Other changes at C4C HQ included:
Saying goodbye to our Toronto office and implementing new remote-first policies to give our team the flexibility to do great work
Welcoming our first distributed team members, including our new Calgary-based People & Culture Manager, Danielle
Becoming a living-wage employer and resetting our salary bands
Beefing up our vacation, leave and paid-time-off policies
Of course, being a great place to work means we can accomplish great work! Some highlights from the past year include:
Collaborating with the City of Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to test an updated intake form to better serve shelter clients and staff
Having an amazing fifth cohort of fellows who worked on projects like releasing a virtual assistant prototype to walk folks through the EI application process
Releasing our first-ever case study about how governments can attract and retain digital talent as part of our new partnership with Policy Ready and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC)
Developing our inaugural Innovation Fund to plot a future where we can support high-impact projects, regardless of budget
Hosting a virtual listening tour with civic tech groups across the country to discuss challenges and future opportunities
So what’s next?
The pandemic has shown us that well-designed digital services can improve residents’ lives and restore their trust in institutions — and that poorly designed ones can accomplish the opposite.
We know what that looks like: huge bills paid with tax-payer dollars, vendor-lock-in, and inaccessible products and services that fail the people that need them.
At Code for Canada, this has been a rallying cry. Now is a pivotal time for the civic tech movement and our mission to create things that meet people where they are. With this in mind, we’re rethinking how we approach our work and have refined our past offerings. Here are the main ways we’re helping organizations serve their communities:
Digital product development and team building
Inclusive usability testing and user research
Custom consultation and coaching
We collaborate with organizations to create digital products and services they feel confident using and adapting long after our work with them ends. We’re committed to supporting and uplifting civic tech organizers across the country. We’re also more focused than ever on ensuring that everything we do is created with, not for, communities.
I truly believe that this new approach will allow us to deliver our impact in a more targeted way than ever before.
We couldn’t do any of this without you
Of course, the story of Code for Canada is bigger than the people you see on our team page. We’re here today because of the community of practitioners, contributors, public servants and advocates who are the beating heart of the civic tech movement.
Whether you’ve been following our work from day one or are just hearing about us now, I want to thank you for being here, and I hope you’ll be part of our next chapter.
We want to hear from you
Our next year will be full of new projects, collaborations, and stories about our learnings and impact. You can follow along by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Want to get in touch about working together? Drop us a line at email@example.com, or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.