Civic Innovation Fellows

About

CIF Y3 Students at the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Borough President staff, 2016

The NYC Civic Innovation Fellows Program (CIF) fosters the next generation of community leaders by developing digital and data literacy practices appropriate for the local constituencies they serve. 

The Civic Innovation Fellowship is the first comprehensive program dedicated to training CUNY’s next generation of civic leaders while improving open data and public interest technology within community boards and other civic NYC organizations.

What and How

Fellows are carefully selected from various CUNY schools and programs. Then, fellows are trained in public interest technology, civic technology, open data, geographic information systems (GIS), and service design fundamentals. They learn about the City’s history and how our good government movement developed. We orient fellows to a suite of digital communication and analytical tools. Many fellows learn what it is like to work in an office for the first time. As part of the training, fellows partner with community organizations to explore a variety of public interest technology projects.

The Fellowship is hosted out of the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, with support from the Office of Technology and Innovation’s Open Data Team and CUNY Service Corps. 

Currently, our fellows are helping develop a comprehensive Mapping for Equity (M4E) program.  M4E is a civics and data literacy program that teaches the public how to see data while collecting data on New York City’s under-mapped and under-represented public spaces.

We use open-source tools and practices to collect geographical open data to create accurate representations of spaces and analyze where public amenities are and are not and which ones are in need.

Then, we work with local partners to sustain the data collection. If successful, public spaces will be better reflected in community conversations and in open data with their amenities and accessibility features open to all.

To learn more or explore partnership opportunities, email us at < cif at beta dot nyc >


FELLOWS PRESENT AND ALUMNI

Summer Class of 2023 (9.5)

Kinji Donald
Hunter College, Computer Science

Kyaw Khaung Myo Lwin
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Computer Science

Naeema Haque
The City College of New York, Environmental Earth Systems Science

Yeni Bautista
Bronx Community College, Engineering Science

Class of 2022-2023 (9)

Ahnaf Shamim
Queens College, Computer Science

Ibrahim Khalil
New York City College of Technology, Computer Systems Technology

Nicholas He
New York City College of Technology, Computer Systems

Kyla Browne
Queens College, Environmental Studies

Prachi Purkaystha
Queens College, Computer Science

Jeaneth Lluicota
Queens College, Computer Science

Summer Class of 2022 (8.5)

Richard Batista
Queens College, Biology

Dimitri Mimy
Queens College, Masters in Biology

Rosario Diaz Salgado
Queens College, Computer Science

Khristopher Ormaza
Borough Manhattan of Community College, Business Management

Gurami Khokhashvili
Hunter College, Economics

Class of 2021-2022 (8)

Five of our 2022 fellows infront of the municipal building.

Kevin Chen
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice

Syeda Tonni
New York City College of Technology, Computer Systems Technology

Richard Batista
Queens College, Biology

Nariah Greene
Queens College, English

Dimitri Mimy
Queens College, Masters in Biology

Rosario Diaz Salgado
Queens College, Computer Science

Lizbeth Jima (Fall & Spring)
Queens College, Masters of Data Analytics and Applied Social Research

Abdul Wahab (Fall & Spring)
Queens College, Computer Science

Class of 2021 (7)

Fellows giving their presentations on zoom.

Kiona Barnes
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology

Avi Severino
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Fraud Examination and Financial Forensics

Sarah Park
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Criminology

Vansh Sharma
LaGuardia Community College, Programming And Systems

Joseph Liu  
New York City College of Technology, Data Science

Aaryan Nair
New York City College of Technology, Mechanical Engineering

*Onedeige James

*Gabrielle Langston

*Srijana Tamang

* Previous fellows brought back as apprentices.

Summer Class of 2020 (6☀️)

Kasandra Carabello
Bronx Community College, Psychology

Mir Afra Humaira
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Computer Science

Sabrina Rivera
Macaulay Honors College at Lehman, Psychology and Education

*Ameen Alhubaishi

*Ishrat Chowdhury

* Previous fellows brought back as mentors or fellows.

Class of 2019 – 2020 (6)

Handful of the Civic Innovation Fellows 2019
A few of the Civic Innovation Fellows 2019 outside the Municipal Building

Murat M. Akaydin
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Masters of Public Administration

Nikki Prascak
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology

Ameen Alhubaishi
LaGuardia Community College, Mechanical Engineering

Onedeige James
LaGuardia Community College, Environmental Science

Mohammad Chowdhury
New York City College of Technology, Computer System Technology

Gabrielle Langston
New York City College of Technology, Applied Mathematics

Stephanie Lovett
New York City College of Technology, Applied Mathematics

Srijana Tamang
Queens College, Computer Science

Guohua Zhang
Queens College, Computer Science

*Ishrat Chowdhury

*Ahnaf Tazwar

* Previous fellows brought back as mentors.

Class of 2018 – 2019 (5)

CUNY Service Corps / Civic Innovation Fellows at NYC School of Data. 2018 – 2019 cohort.

Amy Montero
Queens College

Anderson Ceus
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Jennifer J Maldonado
Queens College

Jimmol J Singh
New York City College of Technology

Kevin Trujillo
Lehman College

Ochanya Itodo
College of Staten Island

Anita Vaesalius Jiang (Wen Jiang)
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Boubacar Barry
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Herlande Jasmin
John Jay College of criminal Justice

Ishrat Chowdhury
Queens College

Ahnaf Tazwar
New York City College of Technology

Charles Amofordjuoh
Medgar Evers College

Class of 2017 – 2018 (4)

CIF Y4 CUNY Service Corps Civic Innovation Fellows with Borough President Gale Brewer and BetaNYC directors Noel Hidalgo and Emily Goldman, 2017.

Kamilah Hayes-Lewis, Sophomore
College of Staten Island, Computer Science

Karina Ibragimova, Junior
Queens College, Computer Science

Sonia Marinovic, Senior
Macaulay Honors College, Economics

Nazija Akter, Sophomore
Macaulay Honors College, Computer Science & Urban Studies

Federico Toscano, Senior
Queens College, Computer Science

Mina Habib, Junior
College of Staten Island, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science

Lili Izquierdo, Senior
Queens College, Political Science & Economics

Shovan Bala, Junior
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, International Criminal Justice

Ramesh Beharry, Junior
Queens College, Economics

Class of 2016 – 2017 (3)

CIF Y3 Students at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office with Borough President staff, 2016

Abdul Malik Muftau
John Jay College, Criminal Justice

Isaac Pulatov
Queens College, Mathematics

Lester Barrett
Medgar Evers College, Computer Information Systems

Martin Park
John Jay College, Fraud Examination & Finance Forensics

Shofiqur Rahman
The City College of New York, Computer Science

Shrijana Ghimire
New York City College of Technology, Computer Systems

*Bruna Jermann
Queens College, Finance and Accounting

*Eli Rivera
John Jay College, Computer Science and Information Systems

*Muhammad Aslam
City Tech College, Telecommunications

*Shalom Joseph
John Jay College, Computer Science and information Systems

* YEAR 2 students brought back as mentors.

Class of 2015 – 2016 (2)

CIF Y2 Students at Data and Society Research Institute with Borough President Gale Brewer, Deputy Borough President Aldrin Bonilla, danah boyd, Ph.D., and Noel Hidalgo, 2015.

Muhammad Aslam
New York City College of Technology, Telecommunications

Thierno Bah
New York City College of Technology, Computer Science

Ibrahima Barry
New York City College of Technology, Computer Science

Bruna Jermann
Queens College, Finance & Accounting

Shalom Joseph
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Computer Science and Information Systems

Xiaolong Li
Lehman College, Computer Science

Tammoya Moore
New York City College of Technology

Eli Rivera
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Class of 2014 – 2015 (1)

CIF Y1 Students at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office with Borough President Gale Brewer, 2014

Islamia Adjibi
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Business Administration

Frank Cabral
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice & Corrections

Leon Clarke Jr.
Medgar Evers College, Business

Irasa Davis
Borough of Manhattan Community College, Human Services

Johnny Derogene
John Jay College, Political Science & Philosophy

Shrouk Ghanem
Kingsborough Community College, Psychology

Ali Haxhijaj
John Jay College, International Criminal Justice & Political Science

Massiel Jerez
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Marline Paul
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Criminology

Gloria Rodriguez
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice & Political Science



Fellowship History

Community Boards are New York City’s local, volunteer representative bodies. Established by the 1963 City Charter, they oversee land use issues, budget recommendations, and local service delivery. 

This project was started by BetaNYC, the former Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, and CUNY Service Corps (CUNY-SC) to empower Community Boards in the rapidly changing digital environment. Hon. Brewer recognized the unique potential for data and technology to improve the way that municipal government interacts with its constituents. Human centered design principles and updated tools would extend the relevance of Community Boards in a political environment where a variety of stakeholders, such as real estate developers, are already digitally empowered. This project started with the ideal to level the playing field to enable better decision making.

In 2014, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office (MBPO) brought in CUNY Service Corp Fellows to expose Community Boards to open data practices. This first, successful iteration of the program lasted six months. While students learned about Community Boards, Community Boards learned they wanted to know more. When the MBPO reviewed the program, it recognized the need for assistance in curriculum development as well as for a partner in managing the program.

In the fall of 2014, Noel Hidalgo came to a similar conclusion: New York City’s relationship to open data would be improved by a concerted effort to expand the knowledge and availability of open data practices to as wide a variety of community based organizations as possible. Towards this end, Hidalgo has been collaborating with Pratt University to develop a six-hour long workshop to demystify the process of map making and the flow of data from NYC’s open data portal.

This project combines the competencies and resources of MBPO, BetaNYC, and Fund for the City of New York, in an effort to demonstrate the potential for digitally driven communities at the hyperlocal level.

“I have long been committed to open access to government data. As a City Council member, I was proud to sponsor NYC’s Open Data Law, which unlocked a treasure trove of data about our streets, crime, restaurant inspections, and other information gathered by city agencies.But that law was only the first step, as “open” data doesn’t automatically mean “useful” data.

“That’s why I am welcoming student members of the CUNY Service Corps to my office. These members will help both our office and our Community Boards navigate City data so that New Yorkers can use the data in meaningful ways.

“In July 2014, Governor Cuomo announced the first round of NY CUNY 2020 awards, providing $55 million to fund innovative projects that connect academic excellence with entrepreneurship. One of those projects brings these students to my office – an expansion in CUNY’s capacity for data analytics and visualization.”

Gale A. Brewer, Former Manhattan Borough President

“We are so proud to welcome these students. With their expertise, we’ll be able to not just retrieve and access vital City information, but also create ways to visualize it – through spreadsheets, graphs, neighborhood mapping, and other organizational means – and get it to our Community Board chairs, district managers, and committee chairs. This way, our Boards can make informed decisions about planning, development, and land-use, armed with data on everything from demographics, to number of school seats, to safety statistics, and so on.”

Aldrin Rafael Bonilla, former Manhattan Deputy Borough President

“When BetaNYC was invited to run the Civic Innovation Fellowship program, it was a true honor to participate in Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s vision of increasing the usefulness of open data. We enjoyed the past four years of working with the Borough President’s Office, Manhattan community boards, and the CUNY Service Corps. We look forward to four more years of partnership.

Our program has created NYC’s first open data training program. We co-created BoardStat, an open data dashboard for community boards built by community boards, and have outlined a number of strategies to help bring modern, agile tools to community boards.

Together we are bringing experience, passion, and innovation into one unique government program.”

Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC

Fellowship Curriculum 

We have broken down content into something easily understandable for anyone new to civic literacy, public interest technology, open source software, mapping, and civic hacking. The following is what an ideal multi-year curriculum would look like.

Mission — Build and execute a community development curriculum that integrates civic design, technology, data, and leadership. The curriculum provides a foundation for community members to use their technical skills to support community boards and develop personal leadership, engage in the civic technology ecosystem, and hone digital skills.

Audience — Someone who is comfortable with a computer, digitally literate with Google docs or Microsoft Office, has access to high speed internet, and a desire to address problems with technology, data, or design.

Curriculum Assumptions:

  • We are testing multifaceted assumptions that cut across government operations, public civic engagement, and open data education.
  • It is possible to build a technology, design, and data curriculum that improves community engagement.
  • There are shared digital inclusion practices that can be replicated across community boards.
  • Municipal data education can be broken down into bite sized chunks.
  • We can successfully deliver a simplified civic technology education to a broad age group.
  • CUNY-SC come from diverse backgrounds with the potential to be the City’s future civil service employees. Regardless, we believe they will carry these digital literacy skills forward, throughout their careers (longitudinal study needed to assess this).
  • Using a lean model, college level technologists, with the assistance of full-time professionals, can improve Manhattan Community Boards’ information flows.
  • Once trained, Community Board Members and Managers can support each other’s data needs.

Being a good neighbor

  • NYC’s history & Government Structure
  • How to participate and join your Community Board & NYPD Precinct Community Councils
  • How to testify at a City Council Hearing or Agency Hearing
  • How to file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request
  • What is open data and open government?

Welcome to Public Interest and Civic Technology

  • What is Public Interest Technology and Civic Hacking.
  • Roots, values, and the future.
  • A civic hackers guide to Google
  • An introduction to open source licensing, copyleft, creative commons, and copyright.

Service Design

  • What is Civic Service Design and Human Centered Design
  • Intro to Civic & Service Design
  • Building “With, not for…” and the fight for Social / Digital Justice

Open Source Foundations

  • Beginners Guide to Open Source
  • Three key elements that define every open source project
  • Getting started with GitHub
  • Things newcomers to open source rarely ask but often wonder
  • Key Books to Read and Open Source Organizations

Application Fundamentals

  • Building apps for a complex world.
  • How the internet works.
  • Harnessing / maximizing cloud based software.
  • Encrypt all the bits, an introduction to security.

Team Communications & Project Management

  • How to use Slack & other group chatting tools.
  • How to communicate via safe and secure channels.
  • The story of self and motivating a movement.
  • Project management 101 and tools.
  • Getting Commitment, conflict resolution, & de-escalation.
  • Building Relationships.
  • What is a hackathon?
  • Basic First Aid and CPR skills.

Open Data

  • Big data, small data, and the open data movement.
  • Using Data and “Data Wrangling”.
  • Data Biases and data for good.
  • New York City’s and New York State’s Open Data Portals.
  • NYC.gov Web Apps

Mapping and Cartography

  • The wonderful world of maps
  • Online Mapping Tools (i.e. Intro to Google Maps, Google Earth, and CartoDB)
  • Beginners’ guide to OpenStreetMap
  • Introduction to Geographic Data Formats and QGIS
  • NYC.gov Maps

Program Outputs


Videos