18 October 2016

Mr. Robert Friedman, Portfolio Strategist

Hive Austin at Mozilla

Dear Mr. Friedman,

We are submitting an application for funding for your consideration. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to do so.

The Capital of Texas Media Foundation (CoTMF) strives to educate and engage the citizens of Austin and central Texas about their local civic entities. We believe that increased civic engagement will spur better and necessary conversations in a place where local voter participation is perpetually low. The primary tool of CoTMF is the Austin Monitor, a Monday through Friday online publication that covers the City of Austin and the surrounding region.

CoTMF also runs a program called Monitor in the Classroom. It provides bulk, discounted subscriptions to locals schools and offers educators a way to engage their students in local civic activity while filling core curriculum needs by making existing subject material more relevant to students through Austin Monitor reporting. This is a way to create young voters with a particular interest in interacting with their municipal governments. We also believe that a good bet on better civic heath is one made on early adoption, and that we can change the downward trend in civic participation in Austin by getting civic education tools into the classroom.

This application for funding will help support our work with Open Austin to expand on our successes with Monitor in the Classroom and our collaboration on the budget platform for a Budget Game Night. The Budget Game Night created an interactive budgeting platform in order to make the City of Austin’s budget accessible to the public. This project melds the two concepts together to increase civic engagement and student understanding of their civic entities and processes. By utilizing technology, we will be able to overcome economic and social barriers to the project.

We fully support Open Austin in this endeavor and find them to be a strong organization with the unique capacity to scale up the project due to their affiliation with Code for America.

We thank you for this opportunity. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Michael Kanin

President/CEO, Capital of Texas Media Foundation

1512 Broadmoor Drive, Austin, Texas, 78723

Phone: (512) 666-8271, Email: michael.kanin@cotmf.org

 

Dear Gigabit Fund Review Committee,

Open Austin is a volunteer citizen brigade advocating for open government, open data, and civic application development. Open Austin is a member of the Code for America Brigade Network of similar grassroots civic tech groups throughout the world. Since 2009, we have been moving the City towards better transparency by providing citizens with new and modern ways to engage with their local government. Examples of this can be found in the City’s decision to use an open-source content management system for their website redesign in 2009, the adoption of an open data portal, the creation of an Office of Innovation, and the frequent civic & social good hackathons our organization hosts and supports. Our vision is a local government that is accessible for anyone to participate in.

We are excited for this opportunity to extend the reach of this vision of an open and accessible local government into our schools through this partnership with the Austin Monitor, Capital of Texas Media Foundation, and AISD. This collaboration makes sense because each of the partners brings complementary skills to the table. Austin Monitor/COTMF provides a deep understanding of local civic priorities and the council legislative process. Open Austin brings an open-source philosophy and expertise in civic technology & design needed to implement the pilot project. And AISD teachers will provide the expertise of how to deliver this hands-on curriculum to their students in a manner that will contribute to their development as a “whole” student and better citizen.

We believe the working prototype of the austinbudget.party app demonstrates our investment and dedication to this project already. The design and development of that app under a short time frame and with zero-budget is an example of what our volunteers are capable of. When this initiative receives funding, we are excited for the impact it will have in our community. Thanks for your consideration.

Mateo Clarke

Chair & Brigade Captain, Open Austin