Boulder Startup Community Members: Help Fund the Code for America Fellowship

If you are a founder or employee of a startup in Boulder and want to increase the overall effectiveness of our local Boulder government, please help us fund the Code for America Fellowship in Boulder.

We are raising a total of $75,000 to match the $75,000 being contributed to this effort by the City of Boulder. So far $30,000 of the $75,000 has been funded by my partners at Foundry Group, Rally Software, and the Anchor Point Foundation (the foundation that Amy and I run). If you’d like to contribute, either email me or donate online at the Code for America site.

Through the foresight of Liz Hansen and Jane Brautigam (the Boulder City Manager), Code for America is working on a project with the City of Boulder to help the city increase its engagement with stakeholders in Boulder around civic issues, including the city’s housing plan. As Jane mentions in her guest opinion piece, she believes this is the year for Boulder to be at its best. As she clearly states:

“It is my commitment to you, the community, that we are listening and that the city team is putting in place a number of new tools and work efforts to support inclusive, respectful and meaningful conversations in 2015, and beyond. These include the hiring of a new neighborhood liaison, a position that was approved last year by council as part of the 2015 budget; a new partnership with Code for America and local volunteers to develop better tools for online engagement and information sharing; and robust community participation processes for the work related to affordable housing, design excellence, our climate commitment, and our community’s comprehensive plan.”

This project resulted in us bringing Becky Boone, last year’s fellow with the City of Denver, to Boulder to spend seven months working with the city. Part of Code for America’s approach is that the city funds half and the community funds half, hence our call for action to support our half of the funding for the program.

Boulder is internationally recognized as a very successful startup community and this entrepreneurial approach fits Colorado well. However, with success comes challenges, including growth and issues of density. Today, Boulder has a population of about 100,000 and about 100,000 jobs. 60% of these job holders commute into Boulder for work while 40% live and work in Boulder in one of the 44,000 housing units.

With population and jobs estimated to grow to about 115,000 each by 2035, Boulder has a success problem. This is exacerbated by design constraints developed for the city in the 1960s and 1970s. The result of these “success problems” is in an increased tension around the discussion of the future of our city in the editorial pages of the Daily Camera, City Council meetings, and conversations around town.

In the search for simple solutions, almost every group in town has been blamed. Lately, the success of the entrepreneur ecosystem has started to become the target for criticism around these issues. As a result, a number of the leaders in the startup community, including myself, have recognized that we need to engage in the discussion to continue to evolve Boulder and make it even better than it is today, rather than simply exist in our own parallel universe.

While the Code for America project is only one activity in the midst of a bunch of different things, it’s a powerful way for the Boulder startup community to show that it’s serious about constructively engaging in talking about and working through our success problems. Help us raise the balance of the $45,000 of our side of the commitment by contributing today.