Success Strategies

How to vote-by-mail, get funding, get answers, remote work and maybe even contact trace.


Civic tech responds: As local election officials start adapting to the pandemic, the good folks at the Center for Tech and Civic Life have pulled together a detailed look at the many ways jurisdictions are responding, from vote-by-mail to solutions that try to keep people safe during in-person voting. As the national debate over vote-by-mail heats up, expect the details to play out differently across states, as some try to make old methods work while others embrace the need to shift.

The Center for Civic Design has also posted a handy tool kit of resources for scaling up voting by mail, including pocket guides for voters, request materials, and templates for ballot envelopes. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done!

On Civicist, Matt Stempeck explains how the Civic Tech Field Guide’s Coronavirus Community Response section is crowdsourcing real-world questions and answers from civil society organizations looking for help from civic tech.

We’ve also updated and reorganized the Guide’s funding section, chock full of suggestions for fundraising tools, funders, foundation initiatives, awards and prizes, competitions and challenges.

Here’s some really useful tips on how to best organize teams and communicate with your coworkers as we all work remotely, written by Yejin Lee, Civic Hall’s director of organizational design. What kind of remote colleague are you? The Natural? The Solo Act? Me, I’m the Creature of Habit, I think.

O’Reilly Media is give free access to all of its online learning to federal, state and local agencies starting this week, says its president Laura Baldwin.

Apply: Got a project in the United States that is crowdfunding to respond to COVID-19 in your community? Ioby will match it dollar-for-dollar up to $8,000 and also supply you with a success strategist “dedicated to you who can offer personalized coaching to help you work through developing your project idea, fundraising for it in your community, and bringing it to life.” Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Attend: Code for America is offering a webinar on “Delivering a Human-Center Social Safety Net in a Time of Crisis,” April 23rd at noon EDT.

If you haven’t peeked in on the CoronavirusTechHandbook lately, take a fresh look. It’s got a clean new design and resources sorted by need groups, including tools for parents/guardians, sick people, engineers, health care workers, and so on. Throw them some support if you can!

Here’s a curated list of open-source projects combating the pandemic, pulled together by Ovio.

Designers! The good folks at GreenMap have released a preliminary set of recovery icons and want your feedback.

Privacy, shmivacy: The good folks at Signal say demand for their secure communications app is through the roof, but new legislation percolating in Congress may cause the nonprofit to leave the United States. They’re calling on all of us to express our concerns about the EARN IT bill’s provisions.

Apple and Google have teamed up to develop a framework for cellphone-based contact tracing, so that when someone finds out they’re infected, they can anonymously send an alert to all the phones that were in their proximity in the prior 14 days. It’s got pros and cons, as Julia Angwin of The Markup explains. On the plus side, it’s opt-in, anonymous, mostly decentralized and doesn’t require personal information to be used. On the minus side, she writes, it’s vulnerable to trolling and spoofing, which could cause lots of false alerts.

Related:The Race to Trace—Security and Privacy of COVID-19 Contact Tracing,” a conversation with Murad Hemmadi, Richard Lachman and Bianca Wylie, today at 4:00-5:30pm EDT.

Media matters: While scientists across the world collaborate madly to find solutions to the crisis, and longtime tech rivals like Apple and Google partner on contact tracing, news organizations continue to compete against each other (even as some, like the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, shrink to just four staff reporters!). Dan Gillmor and Kristy Rosche of ASU’s News Co/Lab have some suggestions for how the news media could combine forces in how they cover the story.

Trends I’m watching: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom just referred to his swath of America as its own “nation-state” as he navigates the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 crisis in the absence of a unified federal response, and Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg Opinion explains why this hint of secession could be a sign of things to come. The newly announced Western States Pact and northeastern Multi-State Council are additional harbingers. And Florida governor Ron DeSantisdecision to exclude non-Floridians from exiting two cruise ships filled with sick passengers is a fourth.

The 2020 census may have fallen off the media’s radar but the good folks at CUNY’s Center for Urban Research are keeping a close eye on its progress, issuing weekly updates like this one. The bad news: we’re well behind 2010’s response rate. Only 5% of households were visited by an “update/leave” census worker before the program was suspended March 18. The Census Bureau is now asking for a four-month delay in its planned completion.

Deep thoughts: Civic Hall member Lina Srivastava offers this powerful meditation on “NYC, ahead of the apex.”

Vu Le of NonProfitAF says it’s long past time progressive foundations (and nonprofits) got over their aversion to being political.

End times: The poetry of the email subject line, COVID-19 edition.

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