REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Dec. 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Omidyar Network announced today it is renewing and expanding its investment in Civic Hall and Civic Hall Labs, the New York City-based collaborative community center dedicated to strengthening civic tech and its new research and development arm, with $4 million in new funding.
A part of Omidyar Network's Governance and Citizen Engagement Initiative, the firm's latest investment includes a $2 million investment in Civic Hall and a three-year $2 million grant to Civic Hall Labs—building on the firm's initial $500,000 grant to Civic Hall in 2014. These investments will help Civic Hall and Civic Hall Labs grow their diverse network of multidisciplinary problem solvers within New York City and beyond, and better define the value and impact of the whole civic tech field.
Since opening its doors in 2015, Civic Hall has become a hub for the growing civic tech ecosystem, with a diverse membership of more than 100 organizations including many civic tech startups, big tech companies, government agencies, foundations, media, think tanks and community groups coming together regularly to network and create solutions to serve the public. In this time, it has also has brought more than 25,000 people together at over 500 hundred events including forums, workshops, hackathons, and demos.
"Now more than ever, we need places like Civic Hall where innovators across society can come together to build a new civic fabric for the 21st Century," says Andrew Rasiej, founder of Civic Hall. "Even before our inception, Omidyar Network has been our primary partner, and we are thrilled to be working side-by-side with them to keep growing the field."
Civic Hall Labs was launched in 2016 to help bring civic tech solutions to life. This nonprofit research and development arm of Civic Hall designs and develops pilots that leverage 21st Century digital tools to create measurable impact with the ability to grow and scale in areas such as social justice and public health.
"Civic Hall Labs is a mission-driven organization that understands technology, is committed to open source solutions, and knows how to drive collaboration across sectors," says Elizabeth Stewart, founding executive director of Civic Hall Labs. "Our goal is to serve those serving the public—nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies—by providing low-risk entry opportunities for developing new ideas and experimenting with how design, data, and digital tools can move the needle on pressing societal challenges."
Stacy Donohue, investment partner at Omidyar Network adds, "I am delighted to continue our partnership with Civic Hall and to support its new initiative Civic Hall Labs. The work of these organizations will be central to expanding civic tech opportunities in New York City and across the entire country."
"In 2016 we have seen strong growth across the civic tech sector. This is a trend that we believe will continue, driven by the increased demand for platforms that encourage greater engagement between governments and citizens and enable government to provide more responsive and efficient service delivery. We hope this investment will enable Civic Hall to continue its great work and provide increased momentum for the rapidly growing civic tech ecosystem."
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $1 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns.
About Civic Hall
Civic Hall is a collaborative community center devoted to strengthening civic tech, the use of technology for the public good. We launched in February 2015, building on the connections that evolved over the first ten years of our annual Personal Democracy Forum conference. Seeing the power that real world interactions had on our network of civic tech and social innovators, we decided to build a collaborative work and event space for the community to gather year round and turn ideas into action. Located in the heart of New York City's Silicon Alley, our curated and inclusive community works, networks, builds, learns and organizes to solve big problems. We are mission-driven professionals, technologists, social entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, academics, city officials, statewide government offices, federal government agencies, philanthropy professionals, journalists, activists and change-makers. Learn more at CivicHall.org.
About Civic Hall Labs
Civic Hall Labs, launched at the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum conference, exists to collaboratively design and develop technology for the public good. Through our Themed Labs and the Civic Xcelerator, we bring together domain experts, data scientists, researchers, designers, technologists, media makers, community groups and entrepreneurs to create measurable pilots that have the potential to grow. Throughout our design and development process we create new models for civic participation, whilst simultaneously expanding the field of civic tech. Learn more at www.CivicHallLabs.org.