Code for America, a civic tech nonprofit, announced the second cohort of state and local partners for its Safety Net Innovation Lab. As part of the next cohort, Code for America will work with New York, New Mexico, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to “reimagine and rebuild the delivery of safety net benefits.”

“Code for America works shoulder-to-shoulder with government partners and community organizations with the goal of creating a human-centered safety net,” said Amanda Renteria, CEO of Code for America. “Through the Safety Net Innovation Lab, state governments are taking major steps toward systemic change in how people receive benefits like food assistance, health care and other basic needs.”

The Innovation Lab was launched in 2022 with $100 million in philanthropic funding through The Audacious Project and Blue Meridian Partners. Code for America said it aims to work with 15 states over seven years to reach 13 million people and unlock $30 billion in benefits by improving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) service delivery, increasing Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participation, and developing and improving single, integrated benefits applications.

Last May, the nonprofit worked with its first cohort of state partners – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Louisiana. Through the first round of the Innovation Lab, Code for America improved the delivery of integrated benefits in Minnesota and food assistance in California, among other achievements.

As part of this second cohort of partners, the Innovation Lab will work closely with public sector workers to “improve the equity and accessibility of core safety net benefits by discovering the most promising opportunities, designing human-centered tools and technologies, and handing off scalable solutions.”

Code for America said it will work with the second cohort to improve outcomes, including:

  • Maryland and District of Columbia: Code for America will work with Maryland and District of Columbia’s Departments of Human Services (DHS) to streamline the design of both of their existing integrated online benefits applications for food and cash assistance, healthcare, and other basic needs to make it easier to use and reduce the time it takes to apply for multiple benefits programs.
  • New Mexico: Code for America and the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) will better leverage customer service data in order to improve customer interactions and customer satisfaction with services offered by HSD, including food and cash assistance, healthcare, and other basic needs.
  • New York: Code for America and the New York State Department of Health will collaborate to pilot live chat and other methods of gathering WIC client feedback. Based on that feedback, Code for America and New York will implement improvements to WIC service delivery to increase participation and benefit redemption.
Read More About
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs