Help governments deliver critical services to those who need them

We’re looking for empathetic, communicative, and organized professionals to volunteer their time to support U.S. Digital Response (USDR) projects.

Great candidates bring experiences from a variety of backgrounds, including technology, government, and communications. Above all, they take an agile, iterative approach to discovering human-centric solutions with our government partners.

Why volunteers volunteer

Create a direct impact on people's lives

We serve immediate public needs by partnering directly with governments and organizations at the state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal level as they work to deliver critical services to their communities.

USDR prioritizes work that addresses critical community needs, directly impacts the public, aligns with our key program areas, and allows us to partner directly with the service provider.
“Code that I wrote helped millions of people find their polling places or ballot dropbox.”
Vicki Niu
Senior Software Engineer
,
Discord
“In everything I do, I aspire to use my skills and talents in service of the greater good. This felt like an amazing opportunity to contribute my research experience while also learning how to be a better researcher.”
Kaela Gallo
UX Research Lead
,
Propel

Leverage your skills to address today’s critical needs

You’ll experience the challenge of applying what you already know to new and critical problems. USDR offers opportunities for professionals to draw upon their years of experience to collaborate on meaningful projects and give back.

If you would like to use your technology skills to improve government, USDR offers a direct path to participate & contribute to urgent and impactful work.

Work alongside government experts in civic tech

Volunteering with USDR offers experience in the inner workings of government and civic tech. From understanding the unique constraints faced by supporting governments to seeing the tireless efforts of partners serving their communities, you’ll learn firsthand how tech operates within government.

For those exploring work in the public sector, USDR projects are an amazing way to get involved, meet people, and get a sense of how your skills can contribute.
“As someone looking to gain more experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, it has been so inspiring to meet others who are so passionate about civic tech.”
Tyler Matteo
Senior Software Engineer
,
CommonBond
“My work with USDR has sparked joy I haven’t felt from tech projects in many, many years.”
Melissa House
Director, Backend Technology
,
Apple

Be part of a community that’s building something bigger

USDR is more than the individual deliverables of our projects. We strive to foster a community of helpers with resources, events, andlearning opportunities.

Each USDR project is an opportunity to discover human-centric solutions alongside our government partners. Our community works to build something bigger and lasting as we earn trust through the work we deliver.

Our impact

7,100+
Volunteers raised their hands to help
840+
Volunteers deployed
300+
completed partner projects
230+
Partners
48
States, Territories, and Districts Represented by Volunteers
40,000
Estimated hours volunteered in 2021
Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
Unemployment insurance claimant user research

Research conducted by USDR, including 2600 website survey responses, 4500 call center calls, and 10 in-depth interviews with individual claimants, found that a majority of users could not find the information they needed on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation website.

USDR’s final report, Unemployment Claimant Research Findings, shared actionable insights. The team also developed plain language guidelines and example wireframes.

USDR believes in user-centered design and modular, incremental delivery of innovation. Many of the recommendations were implemented immediately, improving the user experience today, rather than requiring claimants to wait for a months-long website overhaul.

Read more »
Team members
Christopher Mather
Executive Producer
,
The WNET Group
Casey Malcolm
Lead UX Researcher
,
Amica Insurance Company
Kerrin McLaughlin
Senior UX Designer
,
ExpandTheRoom
Jessie Posilkin
Former Economic Stability Program Lead
,
U.S. Digital Response
Pueblo Department of Public Health & Environment
Improving vaccine information webpage content and design

Pueblo County needed to quickly communicate ever-changing COVID-19 information to the community while freeing up staff time to address other local concerns. The County wanted to update its website to be informative and accessible, with a particular focus on how to get a vaccine.

The USDR team partnered on a user experience and content audit of Pueblo County’s COVID-19 pages. The audit provided tactical design and communication recommendations that addressed navigation, content organization, plain language, visual design, and taxonomy. Using those recommendations, the team then designed new responsive webpages and mobile experiences for the County.

Read more »
Team members
Edward Alton
Senior UX Designer
,
Ad Hoc
Micah Mitrux
Project Delivery Lead
,
Code for BTV
Andrew Hsieh
Content Design
,
Meta
Pilar Strutin-Belinoff
Product Manager
,
Prepared Parents
Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rental Assistance
Distributing emergency rental and utility assistance

In early 2021, the Memphis and Shelby County Emergency Rental Assistance (MSCERA) coalition needed to quickly scale its program in order to keep families in their homes.

USDR volunteers worked with the team to understand their workflows and built a scalable system that leverages several low-cost software solutions.

Since launching the new system on March 1, 2021, the MSCERA team has received more than  7500 applications and distributed $13.7 million in assistance.

Read more »
Team members
Melissa House
Director, Backend Technology
,
Apple
Alex Allain
CTO and Co-Founder
,
U.S. Digital Response
Emily Barlow
Rapid Response Program Lead and Co-Founder
,
U.S. Digital Response
Left
Right

Volunteers on volunteering

Volunteer Spotlight: Lauren Long
During a much-needed break from working with big consumer brands like Tide and Skittles, Lauren answered a call to use her marketing skills with U.S. Digital Response and help spotlight stories on the Economic Stability Team.
Read the blog post »
Seeing the Beauty in “Dark Times”: How Being a Community Manager with USDR Helped One Volunteer Through the Last Year
Leonardo Rocchiccioli has offered his community management skills as a volunteer at USDR since August 2020. Here’s what he has to say about seeing beauty in “dark times.”
Read the blog post »
How My Unemployment Experience Fueled A Desire to Help Modernize the Unemployment Insurance Process
As Alyssa Levitz leaves her Technologist in Residence position at U.S. Digital Response, she reflects upon what drove her to volunteer in the first place — and where the journey took her.
Read the blog post »
How one moment led to a passion for public service
“Twelve-hundred families,” I repeated to myself. “Twelve-hundred families who may not have water from their faucet next month, or access to gas or electricity.”
Read the blog post »

What we’re looking for

Skills

We’re looking for volunteers across disciplines, including but not limited to:

  • user experience design
  • user research
  • software engineering
  • product management
  • content strategy
  • recruiting
  • translation and transcreation
Experience

Great candidates are experienced in their field and have worked with or adjacent to technology. They are empathetic, able to work in ambiguous situations, and great communicators. No matter their field, they take a human-centric approach to discovering solutions alongside our government partners.

Availability

Volunteers who are able to commit at least 10 hours per week with some daytime availability are typically best suited to support our work. Many projects have volunteers involved for about two months, though this can vary. If you have less time, we still encourage you to apply as opportunities arise periodically.

Many of our volunteers don’t consider themselves to be technologists, and skills in communications, operations, graphic design, and project management are also in demand. We encourage you to apply if you can help support technology projects and have a “down to help however is needed” attitude.

We reach out to folks who have filled out our handraiser form when we have a project that matches their skills, experience level, and current availability.
Sign up to volunteer

Frequently asked questions

Is this a paid opportunity?

No. This is a volunteer opportunity. We’re looking for experienced professionals who are able to volunteer their time to this effort.

Who are the USDR partners that volunteers help support?

USDR partners are governments and nongovernmental organizations working to deliver critical services to the people that need them. We also have volunteers who help support internal USDR operations.

How does USDR vet volunteers?

Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills, experience level, and availability. If we believe you could be a good fit for an open project role, we’ll reach out to arrange a screening call to discuss your specific qualifications, interest, availability, and overall fit for USDR volunteering.

Am I guaranteed a project or volunteering opportunity?

No. We carefully assess the needs of our partners and match handraisers with projects based on their availability, experience, and skill. We’ll reach out if we find a great match for you.

When will I hear back?

We will reach out to volunteers as we find matching projects. In the meantime, stay connected with USDR’s social channels for our latest organization updates.

Do I get to pick my project?

We’ll connect you to projects that could be a great fit. You’ll be able to confirm your interest in the project before jumping in to help.

How long will a project last?

Individual projects can last from two weeks to several months, though you may have the opportunity to volunteer for a longer stint or additional projects. Typically projects last about 2 months. When we reach out about a particular project, we’ll share information about the expected duration.

How will I be supported while on a project?

USDR scopes project deliverables alongside partners and matches volunteers to meet project needs. Volunteers and the partner collaborate to manage and execute on the project with support from USDR resources and the USDR community.

How does USDR choose projects & what they work on?

USDR prioritizes work that addresses critical community-facing needs and delivers direct impact to the people our partners serve. We align our work with our program focus areas and work directly with partners to scope out projects we’re confident we’ll be able to deliver on.

Are all volunteering roles working directly with government & NGOs?

In addition to opportunities to volunteer on partner projects, there are internal volunteer roles that help support USDR operations. Internal volunteers might put their skills to use scoping partner projects, interviewing fellow volunteers, or telling impact stories about the work being delivered.

Can I volunteer my whole team, organization, or company?

We invite any interested team members to volunteer as individuals. Please indicate your organization affiliation on the signup form.

Am I employed by USDR or the partner organization you are supporting?

No. This is a volunteer opportunity. Your status as a volunteer is not a step toward obtaining employment with USDR or the organization you’re partnering with.

Who will see my data?

Your data will only be shared with team members and project partners when required to facilitate placement on a project. Read more in our Data and Software Guidelines.

Where will I work?

If you are assigned to a project, you’ll work remotely with a state or local government agency, a public interest organization, or the USDR team.

More questions about volunteering for USDR?

Read our Volunteer Oath and join one of our information sessions:

  • Friday, June 10 (11-11:45 a.m. PT)
  • Friday, July 15 (11-11:45 a.m. PT)
  • Friday, August 12 (11-11:45 a.m. PT)

You can register for any of these sessions or watch a recording of a past Volunteer Info Session.

Volunteer your skills. Make an impact.
Help us build resilient communities to face the next crisis.
Sign up to volunteer