Helping Unlikely Civic Innovators Flourish

Launching our Inaugural CivicXcel cohort

                           Several CivicXcel teams meeting each other during the first module. 

                          Several CivicXcel teams meeting each other during the first module. 

At Civic Hall Labs, our mission is to build tech for the public good and help others do the same. This weekend, we took another step towards that goal as we officially kicked off our newest program for civic innovation, CivicXcel.

Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, the program is a rigorous 6-month training for civic innovators to turn an idea in their head into a solution in someone’s hands. So many accelerators focus on people who already have a tech background, that we wanted to create one specifically for people/teams with a great idea to on how to make a more just, democratic, and equitable society, but needed the the technical/business know-how to make it happen.

In the first phase of the program, participants work side by side with experts in design thinking, ideation, and prototyping to create viable, well-researched, and tested prototypes. These experts come from a wide variety of top companies and organizations, including: Do Something, Squarespace, Delta.NYC, Purpose, Exalt, Queens Library, HCII at Carnegie Mellon, and BigApps 2017.

In the second phase, participants will work alongside successful entrepreneurs to identify a revenue model for a startup or a strategy for a proof of concept, determining if they'll work best as a stand alone organizations, or as an internal project of an existing organization.

There are 8 teams participating in the inaugural cohort, including the 4 winners from this year’s BigApps 2017.  Each of group has personal experience with the social challenge they are working to tackle, and are at different phases of developing their solution.

The Teams Include:

Klaatch: Klaatch is an organization formed to end loneliness and promote community among older adults. Klaatch provides the infrastructure, support and services enabling seniors to meet where and when they want and with people selected to form a positive group.

Dollar Van NYC: Dollar Van NYC is on a mission to improve access to low cost, reliable transportation for the approximately 900,000 New Yorkers living in “transit-starved” areas. Winner of the BigApps 2017 Judge’s Choice Award.

FAMin: FAMin’s mission is to give families the power to stay connected and to share resources. People use FAMin to share with their family and friends, moments in their children’s lives and crowdfund needs in that child’s life. FAMin is changing the way family is done.

CiViCLY: Civicly brings the power of ratings and reviews to government and the public sector. Citizens accustomed to using Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. will be empowered to rate city services, schools, public transportation, politicians, government agencies, utilities and more.

BlacPac: BlacPac is a web-based application designed to close the information gap that exists for Black students who want to go to college. BlacPac's ultimate mission is to improve Black student retention in higher education so that their communities see the benefit of their skills and experiences.

PassNYC: The PASSNYC Opportunity Explorer is an interactive, smart catalog and universal application for over 200 extracurricular opportunities for NYC students. Grand prize winner of the BigApps 2017 Knowledge Challenge.

OnBoard: On Board is a distributed passenger check-in system for New York City’s paratransit network (Access-A-Ride). By creating a public, independent database of passenger pickups. Grand prize winner of the BigApps 2017 Transportation Challenge.

We plan on covering the journey’s of many of these groups over the next 6 months, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!