NYC[x] Innovation Fellows
Since March 2020, the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer team has successfully partnered with volunteer technologists from U.S. Digital Response on multiple COVID-related projects. Now, New York City is launching the second cohort of its NYC[x] Innovation Fellows program to expand on this successful collaboration, embedding small teams of technologists with City agencies to rapidly solve specific challenges through the use of best practices in digital service delivery.
Our mission is to ensure that technology is inclusive, accessible, human-centered, and works for all New Yorkers. We view technology as a critical tool for realizing the Mayor’s vision of making New York City the fairest big city in America.
Founded by former U.S. Deputy CTOs and seasoned tech industry veterans who led federal open data policies and digital government strategy, U.S. Digital Response is a nonpartisan effort that connects experienced, pro bono technology teams to public servants responding to crisis.
NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are working toward one of three high-priority projects as part of Cohort 2:
- Minority- & Women-Owned Business Data Directory: Fostering critical business opportunities for minority and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) by creating a public-facing directory for government agencies and outside entities looking for potential vendors and partners.
- Payment Sites Optimization Project: Identifying key intervention points in NYC’s payment portals to improve New Yorkers’ experience interacting with the site to make payments, and thus reduce the need for in-person transactions.
- Older Adults Virtual Programming and Service Finder: Designing and building a public-facing service finder tool to help older New Yorkers explore, find, and access providers and remote services designed to help reduce isolation and facilitate social connection.
The NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship first started with a fall cohort of volunteer technologists. Read the press release about their work here. Mayor Bill de Blasio congratulated the fellows at the end of their stint, saying that, “The work of the NYC[x] Innovation Fellows will have a lasting impact on improving New Yorkers’ lives.”
Now, a second cohort of the NYC[x] Innovation Fellows Program launched in November 2020 for a ten-week sprint, with each fellow contributing a minimum of 20 hours per week. The fellowship included a week off during the holiday season and will end after the first week of February.
Volunteer fellows will gain invaluable hands-on experience solving critical problems for the largest municipal government in the United States, demonstrate how powerful using digital best practices can be for agency partners, and create tangible benefits for millions of New Yorkers. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are also fully integrated into the broader volunteer community within U.S. Digital Response.
Applications for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program are currently closed.
What skills are required or preferred to be selected as an NYC[x] Innovation Fellow?
First, availability. All volunteers are asked to contribute at least 20 hours of volunteer time weekly.
Second, fellowship teams have full support from the New York City Mayor’s Office of the CTO as well as from the team at U.S. Digital Response, but they are largely responsible for setting their own timelines, product decisions, and communication schedules. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are those with demonstrated expertise in their particular technological area as well as experience working on complex, collaborative projects.
Finally, while many of the teams are made up of technologists with a variety of skills, some projects require specific experience, such as:
- Experience with product management, particularly with helping to introduce user-centered design, inclusive design, and agile ways of working to new partners
- Data scientists or engineers and with experience translating messy, real-world data sources into visualizations that others can interact with
- User experience and user interface designers
- Analytics and user experience experts interested in optimizing user flows
- Front-end engineers who can create and architect responsive designs
We urge potential NYC[x] Innovation Fellows of all backgrounds to apply. Some of our most effective USDR volunteers are technologists with non-traditional backgrounds, and we value teams with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
How do I apply for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program?
Applications for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program are currently closed. Note that this is the second first time we are conducting a program like this, and we may have additional, similar opportunities in the future.
How are NYC[x] Innovation Fellows selected?
Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills and commitment. If USDR’s Volunteers Team believes the applicant could be a good fit for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program, we conduct screening calls where we discuss their specific qualifications, interest, and availability and provide a deeper overview of the fellowship program. Once a pool of qualified volunteers is identified, USDR collaborates with the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO for final vetting and review.
How do I learn more about Cohort 1of the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship?
Read the press release from the New York City’s Mayor’s Office. In addition, stay tuned to USDR social media accounts over the next weeks, where several former fellows will be sharing their stories. Finally, during the interview process, potential fellows will have the chance to learn more about the program from both U.S. Digital Response and the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO.
Is this a paid opportunity?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are experienced professionals who are able to volunteer their time to this effort.
Will I be employed by USDR or the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows’ status as volunteers is not a step toward obtaining employment with USDR or the New York City team. All volunteers will follow U.S. Digital Response’s Volunteer Oath and will sign an NDA with New York City in order to access relevant city information for their projects.
How do I learn more about U.S. Digital Response?
Visit our website at usdigitalresponse.org. If you are a government interested in receiving pro bono technical support, reach out here. If you are interested in volunteering, but the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship is not the right fit for you, sign up to join our hand raiser community. You can also access frequently asked questions by both governments and volunteers.
Who do I contact if I have more questions?
You can email us at [email protected].