Seeks to minimize or eliminate “social inequality” by training “low-income people, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and women” to become active leaders in “the professional social-justice movement
Launched in September 2013, Code For Progress (CFP) is committed to “solving 21st century social inequality” by “putting power”—in the form of computer-programming and code-writing skills—into “the hands” of “communities historically excluded from the process of developing technologies for the social-justice movement—low-income people, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and women.” To help larger numbers of such individuals enter “the professional social-justice movement,” CFP has devised a year-long training program designed to teach them how to use cutting-edge “digital tools” to “communicate, organize, and mobilize in their communities” and to circumvent “roadblocks to building power.”
CFP was founded by the activist Dirk Wiggins, who notes that because the technological aspect of social-justice organizing and political campaigning is currently dominated by white males, “we’re missing a lot [of] ideas” that nonwhites could be expected to bring forth. Thus, says Wiggins, “the focus is diversifying that field.”
CFP's launch event took place on September 18, 2013. It was hosted by such notable Democrats as Forth Worth (Texas) political strategist J.D. Angle, City Councilman Joel Burns, Congressman Bill Enyart (Illinois), former Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Congresswoman Lois Frankel (Florida), Essex County (New Jersey) Freeholder Brendan Gill, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (Arizona), U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (New Jersey), Congressman Bill Pascrell (New Jersey), New Jersey State Assemblyman Troy Singleton, and New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
CFP's training curriculum begins with a 16-week residency in the organization's Washington DC headquarters, where participants learn to “code and navigate the professional social-justice environment,” and to influence political campaigns by “build[ing] on existing voter technology and creat[ing] new … user-friendly digital tools for collecting and tracking non-electoral data that could change how we do member communication, organizing events, leadership development, earned media, coalition building, and grassroots lobbying.”
All residency participants attend classes from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They also receive a monthly stipend and housing allowance, and are paired with mentors who are currently employed by social-justice organizations. Each resident is required to carry out a four-week field project for a local social-justice group, with an eye toward developing “a usable [digital] tool that furthers the mission of their project host.”
CFP's pilot 16-week residency semester began in April 2014. All the participants were either of black, Hispanic, or American Indian heritage. Three-fourths of them were women.
Whenever a 16-week residency term is finished, CFP helps each participant find a permanent, paid position with a social-justice organization.
Throughout the first eight months of their post-residency period, all CFP participants are expected to spend a total of 10 hours per month:
attending a weekly 30-minute community call with CFP staff and other participants;
interacting on a weekly basis with their mentors, even as they move into new jobs and projects; and
“giv[ing] back” to the CFP program by serving as guest instructors, staffing open office hours, or mentoring new participants.
Also during this post-residency period, CFP provides participants (and the alumni who help train them) with opportunities for continuing education (in special-topics seminars and alumni weekends); open office space where they can work on various projects; and continued support by staff and a professional mentorship team.
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