We’re 5 Years Old! Here’s What We’ve Learned and What Comes Next

Dorothy Eng

Dorothy Eng

April 20, 2022

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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:

Of course, being a great place to work means we can accomplish great work! Some highlights from the past year include:

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:

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 hello@codefor.ca, or reach me at dorothy@codefor.ca.