Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the social safety net was already suffering under the weight of antiquated technological systems, deeply entrenched inequities, and high administrative burdens for clients and states alike. The stunning upheaval of 2020 left tens of millions in need of assistance, and pushed existing safety net systems to the brink of their capacity. The need for a resilient and equitable social safety net has never been more urgent.

The challenges of the social safety net today require modern and innovative approaches, rooted in the principles and practices of the digital age. Combining learnings, research, and best practices from across our safety net initiatives, we’re embedding human-centered practices and design thinking in government, helping agencies become better consumers and users of technology, and changing the way states approach safety net delivery, client engagement, and vendor procurement.

Our Approach

Capacity building

We deliver training and resources to government agencies and employees to build skills in human-centered service design, qualitative research and analysis, and data-driven decision making.

Demonstration projects

We show what’s possible by partnering with government to pilot new approaches.

Collaborative consulting

We partner with states directly to help them solve complex problems and improve outcomes in service delivery.

Our Expertise

Human-centered design

Human-centered design is a creative and strategic approach to designing solutions that genuinely meet the needs of the people that we’re serving. Code for America equips government employees with foundational skills in designing, implementing, and evaluating social safety net programs in a way that centers the lived experience and meets the real needs of people receiving services.

Data-driven strategy

It’s important that government decisions are informed by real and accurate data. We use real-time data to inform strategic program and product decisions, and we lead skills-building workshops to advance understanding of data and how to apply it towards equitable and just program outcomes.

Qualitative research

Incorporating the experiences, perspectives, and voices of the people we’re serving is a vital component of building solutions and services that meet people’s needs. We equip government leaders with foundational skills for documenting and synthesizing client experiences in a respectful way to inform strategic change.

Digital delivery

The need for mobile, digital social safety net services is greater than ever. At Code for America, we’ve worked with states to build people-centered digital delivery systems, from enrollment navigation to integrated benefits applications. We share resources, provide training, and build capacity within state agencies to support iteration, agility, and sustainability in the development of people-centered digital services.


Can you help us make our vision of a human-centered safety net a reality? Donate today to support our work transforming the delivery of public benefits.

Are you from a government agency looking to pilot a new approach to benefits delivery?