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Code for America’s first month in KC all about “listening, learning”

Code for America Kansas City fellows Alison Jones, Andrew Hyder and Ariel Kennan.

It’s been nothing but “research and listening and learning” during the first four weeks of the partnership between Code for America and the Kansas Cities, said Ariel Kennan, one of the three fellows assigned to Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo.

Code for America is a non-profit organization that partners with local leaders to change the way cities work through technology and public service.

After spending most of February hosting round table discussions, conducting interviews and presenting to city stakeholders, government officials, educators, business owners and community leaders, the fellows have returned to the organization’s San Francisco headquarters to begin working on their app proposals.

They’re at least two weeks away from a concrete proposal and a specific plan for “what we’re building” in Kansas City, Kennan said. They have a lot to choose from. “We’ve heard a ton of project ideas so far.” Kennan said.

The proposals and eventual app creation are the main takeaway and benefit for communities partnering with Code for America. The fellows, after imbedding themselves in the local community, will work with Code for America staff and mentors to identify how best to help the Kansas Cities cut costs, work smarter and engage more with their citizens through civic software.

Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan. were the first joint application to be accepted into the Code for America program.

There are two main goals for their year-long partnership: Increase local government’s ability to serve as an asset to entrepreneurs, and assist local government in becoming more entrepreneurial in their operations.

“Kansas City’s burgeoning tech scene, strong entrepreneurial base, new fiber infrastructure, and collaborative government particularly drew me in,” said Kennan, whose joined by fellows Alison Jones and Andrew Hyder.

Nicknamed the “A Team,” the fellows have already made an impact by organizing Kansas City Community Coffee, a monthly event that kicked off two weeks ago (right) in celebration of Code Across America.

The group has been heavily focused on connecting the community. “So many people are doing great things here and everyone doesn’t know about it,” Kennan said. “We’ve seen that we can do a lot of good in helping make connections.”

A couple projects have been inspired since Code for America unveiled it would be partnering with the Kansas Cities.

In January, Kansas City, Mo. mayor Sly James announced the creation of a Challenge Cabinet, consisting of the Code for America fellows and local young professionals, who he hopes can work with City Hall to help it become more efficient and effective.

FormZapper founder Andy Kallenbach launched WikiKC.org, a collaborative website about Kansas City that allows anyone to add or edit pages. The site aims to share the local knowledge about Kansas City and engage the community as content providers, rather than just consumers of the web.

Stay tuned to the fellows’ blog, cfakc.tumblr.com, for event recaps and updates on research summaries and, eventually, app development.

Learn more about the fellows in our post, “Meet the three Code for America fellows assigned to Kansas City“.


Credits: Photos by Ariel Kennan.

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