NAC role in $2 million grant to CFA for brigade network

NAC, CFA and $2 million grant money from Knight Foundation

I hope y’all have thought about addressing these kinds of questions, both at 2018 Brigade Congress and outreach to folks who cannot attend:

a) The purpose of the grant. Some is here but related questions include
i. Current brigades getting direct support in general or for particular projects
ii. What “expansion” means – is it simply numbers of brigades, or scope of current brigades’ work in their communities, or multi-brigade coordination on a common project [I.e. expand the network over the next 2 years]
iii. Does expansion mean focusing on particular geographic areas, or sizes of communities (i.e., to see how many lower population communities can support a brigade?)

b) Per the Knight Foundation – “This next phase is about establishing a stronger infrastructure for these efforts…” What is meant by infrastructure?

c) The role of the NAC in advising/directing resources affecting brigades

d) How to evaluate the impact of this new support

Thanks, John Stephens – Code for Durham NC


+1 curious to the answers to these questions as well

hey @NAC let’s review these great questions and consider a response


Thanks @chris ! Also looking towards long term solutions, this discussion on this specific grant can tie into the larger governance thread about learning from other successful models of grassroots good government organizations. See:

6 posts were split to a new topic: How do we define “active” members?

Hey, this topic has had a lot of activity. Awesome! I just want to send a quick note that despite the radio silence from CfA staff, we have seen this and we’re working on authoring a response.

I don’t have that response now, but wanted to mention that it will be forthcoming. Thanks for your patience everyone :grinning:.

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Hi everyone, again thank you for the patience on this. We’d like to be transparent as is practical about the support that enables the Network Team’s work. In turn, that enables us to support you!

Knight is our main funder presently, and so here is some info about how the Knight grant will be used to support the Brigade programs you all are familiar with.

Please see this Summary doc for details about the Network Team’s budget, and how the Knight Foundation’s support is used to empower all that we do:

Although this doc isn’t a point-by-point answering of your original questions, @JBStephens, hopefully it will provide the background you seek. As always, happy to follow up with more context if it is helpful.

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Is there a list of Knight cities?

Yes, there is a list on their website:

Knight cities with Brigades include:

  • Charlotte
  • Miami
  • Philadelphia
  • San Jose
  • Boulder
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Tom - thanks. This provides clarity on many items which helps transparency, and I think will help strong communication within the NAC and among the brigades.

A few quick thoughts for CFA staff and the wider community:

a) Good to understand the overall support/gap for the Brigade network related pieces, 2017-2020. I hope any more sensitive information (i.e. risks of cutbacks) is communicated fully with the NAC so it can fulfill its advisory role effectively

b) For Community Fellowships and brigade partnerships with govt partners - understandable that Knight Foundation cities will get special attention. Will be interesting to see how CfA Staff/NAC address how much advantage should factor in compared to non-Knight cities.

c) Per the passage “fundraise to cover existing program activities before we add/commit to new activities” I hope the next NAC meeting can help clarify - and share via the meeting notes - what is considered “new.” To my mind, it would be great to identify a high priority new activity and see if it can be handled with little or no CFA staff assistance. Purpose: how well can the brigade network mature to handle more of its needs.

Eager to hear from others about their views on the Knight Foundation support, what it does/does not do, and setting up 2019 priorities for the brigade network.

John Stephens, Code for Durham (member, not a leader of the brigade)


Wasn’t there also a Bloomberg grant that was based on network activities as well? It would probably be helpful if there were formal disclosure protocols around CfA fundraising that leverages Brigade activities so that’s more open by default rather than open per annoying pestering random Brigade members that write long messages :slight_smile:

Regarding the bullet point in the Knight grant summary - “Increase # of brigade members and strengthen the number and quality of projects brigades work on and the partnerships they have with their government partners - ensuring Knight cities are well represented” - how much money from the 2019 Knight budget is allocated toward strengthening project work and which brigades will receive it?

Hi all,

This grant goes towards operations for the Brigade program - most of which is the cost of staff. (For reference that’s the Director, 2 Brigade Managers, a tech evangelists and the Senior Manager for Talent who runs the Community Fellowship.)

The next big chunk goes towards hosting Brigade Congress, Brigade Day at Summit, and then getting everyone there. The last chunk goes towards things like keeping the lights on, Meetup subscription, and things like that. I don’t anticipate any funding going directly to Brigades in the manner in which you’re describing.

Thanks for the clarification. The language in the grant summary was confusing because it explicitly states that the Knight grant provides runway to “Increase # of brigade members and strengthen the number and quality of projects brigades work on…"

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