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Center for Urban and Regional Affairs awards $65,000 to civic technology groups

Sparked by the global civic tech movement, the program aims to give concrete resources to groups that would not otherwise get funding for these activities.

The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) has awarded $65,000 to seven different projects focused on civic technology – technology that transforms and engages communities and our civic lives.

Funded by the McKnight Foundation, CURA:Tech started at the beginning of the year, meeting with non-profits, technologists and community leaders to start to describe and co-define what civic technology is – a rather new term that is not well-defined yet. Participants were also invited to a free, two-day Human-Centered Design Workshop to learn about rapid prototyping and putting people first when designing.

Sparked by the global civic tech movement, the program aims to give concrete resources to groups that would not otherwise get funding for these activities. The program is also focused on supporting projects that benefit low-income and communities of color.

These awards will be used to help the teams get to a basic prototype – something that works but is not stable enough to bring it to the general public necessarily. After demoing prototypes in late summer, a couple teams will get larger awards to help realize their project more completely and hopefully be able to make the projects sustainable into the future.

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You can read about the projects below; the descriptions are provided by the teams themselves.

Activist Dashboard

Organization: Center for Earth Energy and Democracy (CEED)

Our crowd-sourced online tool—the ‘activist dashboard’—will be paired with the Environmental Justice (EJ) Mapping Tool to create a clearinghouse where individuals can track a given issue and find useful resources such as public hearings, timelines for citizen input, government officials, and relevant public agencies related to that issue.

Career Pathway Resource

Organization:  Science Museum of Minnesota, Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center

The issue we are addressing is connecting teens to experiences that will give them knowledge and skills to pursue professional careers.

Minority Health DIAL

Team Name:  Team DIAL

The Minority Health DIAL (Data Innovation & Advancement Lab) Project will connect Hennepin County’s Public Health Department, a Hmong community-based, and Hmong community members with artists, designers and other creative professionals, to collaboratively develop, disseminate, and evaluate better designed, more impactful, and effectively distributed Hepatitis B information for at-risk limited English proficient (LEP) Hmong immigrants and refugees, as a means to improve their health and the health of the community. The Project will be a prototype for innovative and successful multi-sector collaborations to improve public health communications with LEP communities and mitigate health disparities for under-served communities of color.

Neighborhood Street Forum

Organization: Cleveland Neighborhood Association

We will pilot innovative community engagement in a typically under-represented constituency by utilizing technology, video and social media, to build a platform for engaged community residents. In phase one, 4 high school students will produce weekly videos highlighting resident voices on important issues and asking politicians to respond.

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Our City

The Goal of Our City will be to facilitate transparency into the governing process of City Council and increase public engagement through more open access to policy makers and allowing citizens a better understanding of the decision making process.


Organization:  Tuloko

Tuloko is an internet-based social enterprise that provides products and services focused on the development, growth and employment of small, women and minority owned businesses. By curating business information on diverse businesses, we help connect consumers, large corporations, government agencies and educational institutions with these historically underutilized businesses.

Youth in Crisis Technology Project – Text for Help

Organization: The Bridge for Youth

The Youth in Crisis Technology Project (YCTP) Text for Help Solution will directly connect counselors to youth in crisis through SMS: a communication means that can be silent and private. Help will no longer be a phone call away; it will land in a young person’s mobile device.