Greetings. Most of us know something about the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps…organizations that unlock the talents of people across a wide range of disciplines to work in service to low-income communities in developing countries and here in the United States. At their best, these programs help to strengthen local capacity by teaching and supporting local residents in projects that matter to their future. Now, a relatively new program called Code for America is applying the same business model to urban challenges that lend themselves to information technology solutions by connecting talented IT professionals with cities to reimagine the way that local government operates. The program provides fellowships that enable technologists to work directly with cities to solve pressing problems in new and innovative ways and is also looking to support civic start-up ventures with the potential to create disruptive technologies that will benefit local governments.
Code for America is an exciting idea that comes at a time when many local governments are challenged to provide additional services and greater value to citizens in the face of limited resources. And it makes sense that the combination of skilled and dedicated geeks and the Web might be a brilliant part of the solution.
It also suggests that your best and brightest people might be able to make a contribution to a challenge facing your community, and that we all have a vital role to play in solving important challenges at a time when public sector funding is increasingly constrained. And, there’s reason to believe that giving employees the opportunity to make a difference is an important part of what it takes to keep a new generation engaged and excited about work. In fact, Adam Grant’s new book “Give and Take” suggests that the people who give the most are likely to be the most successful.
We win in business and in life when we choose to share our expertise with others, and when we seek to find innovative solutions to the most pressing challenges and opportunities in our companies and our communities.