About Civic Hall
About Civic Hall
Digital technologies are transforming our economy and reshaping our democracy, and the people who know how to make and use them are the unacknowledged legislators of our age. Our city abounds with digital expertise, from Silicon Alley with its thousands of start-ups and industry leaders, to city government itself, which has the most progressive open-data policies in the country. But there is a major gap between the techies and the rest of the city that mirrors the digital divide across America: the pathways to the digital economy don’t uplift many people from diverse communities. In turn, tech itself is often disconnected from the needs of the most disadvantaged in our society.
The good news is that many people and institutions are already working to address these problems. New York City is home to several top digital schools that teach how to code and design, collectively reaching tens of thousands of people a year, including immigrants, people with disabilities, seniors, and public school educators. Dozens of government agencies and non-profit organizations are hard at work modernizing their services. And a growing and mostly unseen army of digitally savvy civic entrepreneurs is creating hundreds of vibrant new organizations and platforms aimed at solving a host of critical public problems.
It is time to bring these disparate forces together under one roof. E pluribus unum. When you give a diverse group of strivers, doers, teachers, leaders and decision-makers a place where they can learn, work and network side-by-side on a daily basis, magic happens. Serendipitous collaboration multiplies. Bottlenecks turn into brainstorms. Powerful partnerships result. Inclusive change happens.
That is the vision of Civic Hall @ Union Square, a 21st century community center for all.
Civic Hall is a collaborative community center and ideas incubator where government staff, nonprofit leaders, community organizers, policy wonks, philanthropists, civic entrepreneurs, developers, data scientists, journalists and academics come together to solve pressing civic problems with technology. Founded in February 2015, Civic Hall has rapidly grown into a thriving and diverse community with over 1,000 members and 100 member organizations including the NY Attorney General’s Office, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology & Innovation, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, the Speaker of the City Council’s office, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, NYC’s Department of Education, NYC 311, Airbnb, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Code for America, Consumer Reports, Columbia University, the Ford Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, and the Harnisch Foundation.
Since its opening, more than 50,000 New Yorkers have visited Civic Hall to share ideas, participate in a workshop, compete in a hackathon, attend a conference, hold an event, demo their product, or get advice. Civic Hall has supported dozens of early-stage for-profit and non-profit civic start-ups including CityMart, which is building a global platform connecting cities to proven solutions; Waltz, which makes mobile payment solutions for public transportation; Benefit Kitchen, which helps people access their public benefits more easily; VoteRunLead, which recruits and trains thousands of women to run for office; the NYC Veterans Alliance, a new membership organization that lobbied successfully for the creation of a new city Department of Veterans Services; HeatSeek, which builds low-cost sensor networks and works with housing nonprofits to help tenants get heat in winter; and Rhize, which coaches and trains movement organizers worldwide.