2022 Impact Report
Showing what’s possible in a changing world
Message from our CEO
Code for America made tremendous impact in 2022.
We saw major breakthroughs for the entire public interest technology ecosystem. There is more capacity for tech talent in government than ever before, digital delivery is being written directly into policy, and systems are changing right before our eyes.
We set out on a new journey with a landmark investment to transform the social safety net, partnering with states to reimagine how they deliver benefits to residents. And we had a homecoming, convening our wider community for the first in-person Code for America Summit since 2019. All the while, economic volatility and the ongoing effects of the pandemic made our services more necessary than ever, as we delivered stability to millions of families in an unstable time.
It wasn’t an easy year, but still, we doubled down on our commitment to proving government can reach people equitably and serve them with dignity and respect. I’m excited to share some highlights of our team’s biggest impacts in this report.
Moments of reflection like these make me more optimistic than ever about the task ahead of us: to transform government services as we know them. In a time of uncertainty, this work is more important than ever. Code for America will continue to show what’s possible by reimagining systems, and I truly believe we’ve never been more poised to deliver on our mission.
Thank you for believing in this work, and being on this journey with us.
Chief Executive Officer
CEO Amanda Renteria delivers a TED Talk on our vision to transform the social safety net at TED’s annual conference in April 2022.
Courtesy of TED Talks
By the numbers
America is one of the most resourced countries in the world—yet 37 million residents live in poverty, with millions more struggling to get by.
Government is the most powerful way we can meet this problem at scale, and technology is the best tool we have to make sure it can do so efficiently, effectively, and equitably. Too often, people face major burdens when trying to access government services—especially those who are already most marginalized. At Code for America, we’re changing these systems.
Code for America uses human-centered technology to fundamentally change the way people interact with government by changing the systems that underpin it.
We work shoulder to shoulder with all levels of government to reduce poverty and advance equity for millions of people across the country. And we show that it’s possible to create a truly human-centered government that works well for everyone.
Strengthening the safety net
We’re modernizing the digital delivery of benefits for equitable outcomes and delivering $30 billion in benefits to 13 million people across 15 states.
Launched the Safety Net Innovation Lab with a $100 million investment from the Audacious Project and Blue Meridian Partners. In 2022, we launched our first cohort and secured commitments for our second cohort, representing 10 out of 15 total state partnerships. We completed discovery and identified effective delivery interventions for the first cohort and will kick off discovery for the second cohort in early 2023. We also developed an evaluation framework that will hold us accountable for truly delivering impact and advancing equity across all our state partnerships.
Identified focus areas across our first five Cohort states. We are increasing equitable access to SNAP in California, improving the integrated benefits journey for clients and caseworkers in Louisiana, improving the integrated benefits application experience in Colorado, reducing SNAP churn in Connecticut, and processing streamlined Medicaid renewals and reducing churn in Minnesota.
Handed off MNbenefits to the state of Minnesota. Through MNBenefits, residents can apply for nine different benefits programs in less than 20 minutes. At the point of handoff, the platform had already helped over 211,000 people access $89 million in benefits, and its impact continues to grow, serving as proof that our work can create lasting change.
Promoting economic opportunity through tax benefits
We’re closing the $40 billion tax benefits gap and simplifying the tax filing process.
Relaunched GetCTC in the U.S. and expanded to Puerto Rico. In 2022, Puerto Rican families were eligible for the full amount of the Child Tax Credit for the first time ever. We updated GetCTC to accommodate Puerto Rican residents, establishing an application path for nearly 300,000 newly-eligible Puerto Rican families.
Launched our national outreach campaign to guide families with low incomes to GetCTC. Our goal was to work with 25 states—but over 30 states joined the campaign, sending more than 10 million direct messages and prompting 30,000 households to claim an estimated $42 million.
Advocated for policies that simplify the tax process. Thanks to our advocacy efforts and those of our partners, the IRS allowed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to be included in simplified filing this year. We expanded GetCTC to include the EITC, increasing the amount of tax benefits families received when filing with us. We also successfully advocated for the IRS to engage in outreach to non-filers, and in October, the IRS sent over 9 million letters to people who had not filed a 2021 tax return and were eligible for tax credits.
Shrinking the criminal legal system
We’re making end-to-end automatic record clearance the standard in all 50 states.
Partnered with the state of Utah to clear the eligible convictions of 310,000 people. Utah has adopted the code and technical process we built to identify and continually clear records as they meet eligibility requirements. This is a fundamental shift toward an automatic process that achieves record clearance equitably, expeditiously, and at scale.
Increased the number of people who are eligible for record clearance. We worked with advocates and partners in several states, including Rhode Island and Oklahoma, to write legislation that expands record clearance eligibility and uses an automatic clearance process to deliver relief. This helps us reach more people who are living with criminal records and reduce their burden in seeking relief. We know this work can be fruitful—after just four years of work in California, SB 731 was signed into law, greatly expanding record clearance eligibility with the potential to impact millions of convictions.
Made it easier for the government to implement automation. In Nevada, we were contracted by Clark County to conduct a feasibility study regarding automatically sealing cannabis and other eligible records, and in Colorado, we streamlined the automatic process to reduce complexity and save over $5 million. In California, we completed a key research project around how people find out their record has been cleared.
Mobilizing our national Network
We’re meeting community needs and changing inequitable systems.
Helped build the most comprehensive online data resource about 911. Our first National Action Team, Reimagine911, built tools that enable local agencies to better understand 911 data so that calls can be channeled more accurately, without automatically resorting to law enforcement.
Led 14 impact sprints that built a foundation for strong community partnerships. Across nine Brigades and two Network Team projects, we partnered with 16 community organizations across the country to develop prototypes and engage volunteers across diverse issue areas. Each Impact Sprint project team was provided support like paid management and assistance with volunteer recruitment to help Brigades to deliver impact through partnerships.
Piloted broadband-related activities to close the digital equity gap. At Brigade Congress, the Network participated in a virtual collective action event, where teams analyzed 36 census blocks and 105 addresses for inconsistencies with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) data. They discovered 11 wrongly categorized blocks and found that only 42% of addresses are fully served to FCC-reported levels. Brigade Members also participated in an on-site Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment activity to better understand the barriers to participation in the application process.
Elevating lived experience through Community Fellowship
Our Fellows partner with local governments to address inequities in service delivery.
Two of the products built by our 2021 Community Fellowships program launched for resident use in 2022.
In Fort Collins, Colorado, GetFoCo, an all-in-one application portal to the discounted services and municipal benefits offered by the city, began a phased launch this year, which saw the average engagement rate nearly double and an uptick in submissions for services. Santa Barbara, California launched ThriveSBC, a community resource app designed to promote seamless access to necessary resources for the justice-impacted community of Santa Barbara County.
In Adams County, Colorado, the app that Fellows developed to help the county distribute digital motel vouchers directly to those experiencing homelessness distributed approximately 3,000 vouchers, averting more than 16,000 nights of unsheltered homelessness. November and December were the most highly utilized months in the history of the program.
Showing what’s possible with the Opportunity Accelerator
We’re partnering to support governments to improve economic mobility and reduce racial disparities.
Through the Opportunity Accelerator, we’re partnering with nonprofits, local governments and community organizations to improve economic mobility and advance racial equity. In the City of Memphis and Shelby County in Tennessee, we’re focused on the population of Opportunity Youth—young people aged 16 to 24 who are disconnected from education and employment—to reconnect them to schools and jobs.
Shaping an evolving ecosystem
Building the civic tech movement with volunteers, partners, and peer organizations is a key part of how we create a government that is equitable, accountable, and adaptable for the future.
Stepping up as thought leaders
Summit 2022: Building the path forward, together
In May, we hosted the first-ever hybrid Summit, which was also our first time with a physical presence in the Washington, D.C. area.
Mainstage featured messages from Vice President Kamala Harris and California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Notable speakers included MSNBC anchor Alicia Menendez, Senior Advisor to the President Gene Sperling, GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan, and USDS Administrator Mina Hsiang.
Joining and leading coalitions and partnerships
We continued our deep partnership work in the following coalitions:
- For The People exchange
- Talent for Good
- Technologists for the Public Good, and Broadband Equity for All
- The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- United States of Technologists
Together, we’re showing what’s possible when community and local government work together to serve the needs of the people.
Our partners and supporters
With the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s longstanding support, we’re redesigning the social safety net to be more equitable, inclusive, and easy to use.
“Code for America is doing the work to dismantle systemic barriers to equity. Their human-centered approach starts with the people governments serve, and they have the data and proof points that show it works.”
— Dwayne Curry, EdM, CPTD, Program Officer and Equity Lead, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Tax benefits comprise the biggest and most effective anti-poverty program we have at the national level, and The Rockefeller Foundation supports our work to make tax filing simple and accessible for all Americans. Together, we are advancing equity and economic opportunity, especially for those who have been left out.
“Code for America shares our vision that every working person in America should be able to meet the basic needs of their families—and have a path to a better future.”
— Rachel Isacoff, Manager, Economic Equity Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
Code for America is proud to partner with the Clean Slate Initiative, which leads a national effort to restore opportunity to millions of Americans. Since 2019, we have supported the initiative’s passage of Clean Slate laws in six states that will automatically clear conviction records of an estimated 2.2 million people. Together, we’re leveraging our experience with technology, policy design, and implementation to help government automatically clear all eligible records.
“Code America has been a great partner working with us to pass policies that automatically clear criminal records for people that have served their time and paid their debts. These policies ensure that people who’ve got a record can overcome their past mistakes and get a fair shot at a better future.”
— Sheena Meade, Executive Director, Clean Slate Initiative
Leadership and board members
- Amanda Renteria, Chief Executive Officer
- Arlene Corbin Lewis, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
- David Schlendorf, Chief Financial Officer
- Emily K. Tracy, Chief Revenue Officer
- Lou Moore, Chief Technology Officer
- Ryan Ko, Chief of Staff
- Tracey Patterson, Chief Programs Officer
- Yasmin Fodil, Deputy Chief of Staff
- Amanda Renteria, Chief Executive Officer
- John Lilly, Board Chair
- Shona Brown, Board Treasurer
- Katie Biber, Board Secretary
- Jennifer Pahlka, Founder
- Tim O’Reilly, Board Member
- Wendy De La Rosa, Board Member
- Jim Shelton, Board Observer
- Spencer Kympton, Board Observer
Code for America is led by a woman of color and committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our hiring practices and at every level of our organization.
All staff gender
All staff race and ethnicity
Leadership race and ethnicity
We’ve never been as poised as we are right now to effect transformative change in government.
We have 10+ years of learnings to build on, and each year we get closer to achieving our vision of a government by the people, for the people, in a digital age. We’ve proven that systems can be changed for the better, and that we can address some of our toughest challenges with technology at scale—delivering impact for millions of people.
In 2023 and beyond, Code for America will continue to deliver on our big bet: that we can transform government systems to reach people more equitably, and serve them with dignity and respect. We’ll keep putting the people we serve at the center of all the work we do, we’ll foster partnerships that can help us drive our mission forward, and we’ll continue showing what’s possible in a changing world.
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