Civic Digital Fellowship


Over a third of U.S. federal employees are eligible to retire in the next five years, yet only 6% of employees are under 30—a pressing issue given the rate of innovation. Piloted as an effort between agencies and a student-led nonprofit, the Civic Digital Fellowship recruits the next generation of technologists—students and recent grads—pairing them with in-need agencies. It has scaled to six agencies, and is an attractive on-ramp for technical students into public service.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Overview: Piloted in Summer 2017 with an inaugural cohort of 14 students from across the United States, the Civic Digital Fellowship is a unique internship program that allows talented technical students to innovate in federal agencies. The Fellowship provides an onramp for students looking for impactful civic tech opportunities while providing agencies a modern, efficient way to attract technical talent and inspire the next generation of digital leaders.

Fellows are recruited for the following skillsets: software engineering, data science, product management, design, and data journalism.

2018 Partners:

The Civic Digital Fellowship grew from 14 Fellows at the U.S. Census Bureau in 2017 to a 2018 cohort of 36 Fellows across six federal agencies.

Agency Partners: Census Bureau, Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, International Trade Administration.

Our Fellows:

- Number: 36 Fellows
- Acceptance Rate: 4.2%
- Education:
- Status: 30 Undergraduates, 6 Graduate Students
- Schools Represented: Brandeis, Brigham Young, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia (2), Cornell (2), Duke, Harvard (2), Middlebury, NYU (2), Olin College of Engineering, Parsons, Pomona, Rhodes, Rutgers, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Smith, Southern Methodist, Stanford, UT-Austin (2), University of Alabama, UC System (2), UChicago, U of Maryland - College Park, UNC, University of Washington, Virginia Tech, Yale (2)

- Diversity:
- Gender: 20 Women, 16 Men
- Race/Ethnicity: 47% Asian, 29% White, 11% Black, 5% Hispanic, 8% Prefer Not to Say.

Fellowship Benefits:

The Civic Digital Fellowship is fully-funded–covering housing, round-trip travel to Washington, D.C., and a competitive stipend. In addition, Coding it Forward supports fellows in their personal and professional growth with site visits, one-on-one mentorship, and community-building programming.

2018 Fellows visited industry-leading organizations including the U.S. Digital Service, 18F, Presidential Innovation Fellows, OpenGov Foundation, TechCongress, and Mapbox.

Demonstrated Impact:

Fellows worked on high-impact projects across the Census in 2017 and presented their work to leadership at Demo Day. Projects like Census for Small Business and Census Partnerships are already online.

In 2018, Fellows saved the Census Bureau millions in survey costs using machine learning algorithms, built tools for diplomats abroad, innovated a tool that allows Veterans to more easily take advantage of their GI Bill benefits, and improved access to Medicare data.

After two successful cohorts of Civic Digital Fellows, over 15 agencies are interested in hosting Fellows in 2019.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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