Donors, volunteers, and the future of Code Corps

Hey, it’s Josh from Code Corps and it’s been awhile.

A lot’s happened in America since my last update to you. We had an election. We had an inauguration. And we’ve had a stunningly poor 38 days of our new President.

A flurry of new organizations have popped up in reaction. Tons of new projects started. Hackathons and meetups have happened around the world.

But Code Corps may have seemed relatively quiet.

Where we’ve been

There’s no doubt we’ve all been hard at work since we decided to move to Elixir in July. Since then, we’ve closed more than 450 pull requests in the Ember repo and 360 pull requests in the API repo.

We also quietly launched our donations platform. Yet we’re already up to $399 in monthly donations to Code Corps. A HUGE thank you to everyone who’s donated.


If you haven’t donated yet, you absolutely should go donate now. If everyone on our mailing list gave $20 per month, all three people on the core team could work on the project full-time.

This project took longer than we had anticipated. We’ve been working on a 2.0 version of the most widely used Elixir library for Stripe. We worked and reworked and re-reworked our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

We also launched a new task interface.

Code Corps Tasks UI

But we still have work to do before we think Code Corps can really deliver on its promise.

Where we’re going

It’s worth pausing for a moment to reflect on where we’re going. What are our goals?

Consider the dictum that “software is eating the world”. We certainly believe this to be true. But what kind of diet is software eating? Is it sustainable? Are we just producing software that heightens existing problems, or disrupts new ones into existence?

The people in this community are focused on building a sustainaible future and the software that helps build it. Although I need to spend some personal time articulating a Requests for Projects (akin to YC’s Requests for Startups), you could roughly map the outcomes we’d like to see from Code Corps projects to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

For example, a project some of our friends are working on today is the National Voter File. By building a free and open source voter file, they’re tackling a problem that gets at one root cause of costly political campaigns. It’s costly in time. And the voter file data itself costs $140,000 for a single snapshot.

Code Corps should be a platform for building and funding that kind of software: software that solves big problems. We need to help projects like the National Voter File project to get more volunteers and more donors. And we’ll likely help people solve a bunch of smaller problems along the way.

How we get there

Part of the problem is that there aren’t great tools or patterns for building software like this at scale, especially with distributed teams. We’re actively mapping out all the difficulties volunteers might have in contributing to such projects and building better paths so that volunteers are welcomed, encouraged, and effective.

Code Corps Contributor and Maintainer Map

This big picture is great, but we need a shorter-term set of goals to get there. We have several:

Create an active volunteer community

We want to remove barriers for new volunteers who can jump right into their first task. And we want to keep them actively engaged.

For Code Corps ourselves, we desperately want to increase our number of actively involved contributors. And we’re working hard to update you more often on what the larger community is doing.

Start using Code Corps for project and volunteer management

We need to start actively using Code Corps ourselves. This means we need to make GitHub sync with tasks and fix the little problems that prevent us from using the platform regularly. Building Code Corps with Code Corps.

Become fully funded by donations

We need to make it easier to donate to projects. We need to understand why people don’t want to donate (if that’s you, email me!). And we need to hesitate less in asking people to contribute.

How you can help

If you’ve been on the sidelines, this is your call to action.

Donate if you can.

Are you a front-end developer or designer? Do you know design, JavaScript, HTML, CSS (or willing to learn)? You’ll want to check out our Ember projects.

Are you a backend developer? Do you know Elixir, Phoenix, PostgreSQL (or willing to learn)? You’ll want to check out our API projects.

Do you have general project management, writing, or other useful skills? We could also use your help.

You can dive into these projects to find specific tasks that you can pick up and start working on right now. Join our Slack and say hello.

We’re really close to having something good on our hands. We just need some extra hands to help us get there.

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