Following are our answers to the 2019 Code for America Community Fellowship Application

  1. What’s the problem that your project aims to solve?
    • The City of Norfolk and the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority are partnering to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by rebuilding the area known as the St. Paul’s area to improve resilience of both human capital and environment.  This area includes nearly 1,700 units of aging public housing that will be demolished and redeveloped over the next 10 years.
    • Residents of Norfolk public housing lack digital support services necessary to make decisions about their housing options.
    • Communications about this process have been difficult. There is not a robust digital communications strategy between residents, City of Norfolk and NRHA.
  2. Why did you choose this particular problem to solve?
    • To ensure that our neighbors affected by this large-scale public transformation have government digital services that are developed by and with the affected population.
  3. How will you work with your partner organizations (government and community-based) to solve this problem?
    • The Office of the Deputy City Manager is providing staff time to this project
    • City of Norfolk is providing community center classrooms, meeting rooms, and computer labs
    • NRHA Chief Community Engagement Officer is assisting with community access and engagement
  4. Who is the vulnerable population that this work will serve?
    • Residents of 1,700 barracks-style homes, dating to the 1950s, who are required to make a housing choice, to either permanently or temporarily relocate, during the redevelopment.
  5. How will this work directly benefit them? How will they be involved in your work?
    • Residents have been vocal about their inability to access information about the project, and communicate with NRHA and City of Norfolk about their housing choices. This will provide them a direct channel.
    • We are recruiting and intend to hire fellows who live or have lived in Norfolk public housing, public housing elsewhere, or who have family members in public housing
    • We are seeking to “train the trainers” for the classroom
  6. Describe the planned involvement of the local brigade?
    • We’re rallying everyone in our brigade around this fellowship
    • Our brigade will be teaching classes in the Young Terrace community center for:
      1. Intro to GIS
      2. Intro to Graphic Design
      3. Intro to Digital Journalism
      4. Learn to Code
      5. “Mini PixelFest” (Intro to Video Game Dev)
      6. Intro to Business Documents
  7. What work has already taken place in preparation for this project?
    • We first contacted NRHA in October 2018 and have been working with them since to develop this opportunity
  8. Describe the size and structure of the team needed for this fellowship project
    • We have funding for a Tier 1 engagement of 2 full-time fellows. An alternate structure is 3-4 part-time fellows.
  9. Has your government partner agreed to pay your salary costs or bring you on as a temporary employee?
    • YES
  10. The management fee per project is $36,000. How much of this can your government contribute to?
    • 100%; The City of Norfolk is willing to contribute to the membership fee cost relative to the final salary costs, provided it does not exceed our total budget for the fellowship
  11. Tell us why we should pick your team. Describe the last time you worked to improve your community? (It doesn’t have to be a tech-related project.)
    • We are the first Code for America Brigade and have been supporting our local governments and transit authorities since 2011. Our leadership team and members have logged over 1000 hours of community service with City of Virginia Beach, alone. We have strong support from our local governments and community service organizations. And we are 100% committed to promoting delivery-driven government here at home.
  12. What outcomes do you hope to achieve as a Code for America Community Fellowship project?
    • Measurably improved communications between residents, City of Norfolk, and NRHA
    • A working digital communications strategy (“alpha”) for residents in NRHA public housing
    • Increased access to skills training for residents
    • A foundation for relationship with Code for Hampton Roads that supports the very last home through transition
  13. Tell us about a project that you’ve worked on in which you are proud of the outcomes.
    • We started the Brigade
  14. Have you ever had an experience with a Government service or program that you think could have been improved? What was it? How could it work better?

Organizing Team


Kevin Curry, Brigade Captain, Code for Hampton Roads (submitter)

Jechonia Spruill, Communications Lead, Code for Hampton Roads


Catheryn Whitesell, Deputy City Manager, City of Norfolk

James Rogers, Deputy City Manager, City of Norfolk

Dr. Susan Perry, Special Assistant to the City Manager for Poverty Reduction and Community Initiatives, City of Norfolk

Peter Buryk, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Norfolk

Kimberly Thomas, Interim Chief Community Engagement Officer, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority


Lavonne Pledger, St. Paul’s Advisory Committee member & Young’s Terrace Resident

Rodney Jordan, Chief Community Engagement Officer, McKinley Megginson Group

Do you know a Community Foundation that can join our team to support these efforts through funding, staff, or in-kind donations? Email us!