Press Release: CAC Named Semifinalist in Harvard’s 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards Competition

Congressional App Challenge Named Semifinalist in Harvard’s 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards Competition

WASHINGTON, DC– The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today the Congressional App Challenge as part of the 100 programs named as Semifinalists in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition. The Congressional App Challenge will compete to be named a Finalist in the competition and have the chance to be awarded the $100,000 grand prize in Cambridge this spring.

The Congressional App Challenge (CAC) advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states, and was selected by the Innovations Award evaluators as examples of novel and effective action whose work has had significant impact, and who they believe can be replicated across the country and the world.

With the goal of engaging student constituents in coding and computer science, participating Congressional Representatives host the annual 15-week app competition from mid-July through early November. Proving that computer science education is an issue Representatives from all political leanings can rally around, the CAC has enjoyed remarkably bipartisan support, with 64 Democrats and 59 Republicans participating in 2016.

Since 2017, the CAC has reached nearly 4,000 students across 33 states, and in anonymous exit surveys, these students overwhelmingly reported that the experience inspired them to continue pursuing coding skills. Furthermore, the CAC actively seeks to engage students from demographic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the tech community, and of these students, over 30% were young women. Winners from each district receive prizes and are honored by their Representatives. They are invited to demo their work at the annual #HouseOfCode reception, held on Capitol Hill, where their projects will be also kept on display for a year.

“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”

The Semifinalist programs represent a cross-section of jurisdictions and policy areas, and embody one of the most diverse and sophisticated groups that have advanced to this stage in the competition’s 30-year history. They were invited to complete a supplementary application last fall, answering in-depth questions about their work, the process of creating and sustaining their programs, and how they believe they can teach others to do what they do. The Ash Center expects to announce 10 programs that will be named Finalists and be invited to Cambridge to present to the Innovation Awards Program’s National Selection Committee in March, with the grand prize winners to be named in June.

Please visit the Government Innovators Network at for the full list of Semifinalists, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.

For more information, contact:
Rachel Décoste
Program Director, Congressional App Challenge
[email protected]

Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications, Ash Center

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit

About the Congressional App Challenge
The Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is overseen by the nongovernmental sponsor, the Internet Education Foundation. This program owes much of its success to the leadership of Representatives Bob Goodlatte, Anna G. Eshoo, Mimi Walters, Hakeem Jeffries , Ed Royce, and Seth Moulton, as well as the staff of the Ethics Committee and the Committee on House Administration. The CAC would not have been possible without the generous support of its sponsors, Capital One, Microsoft, Intel, Amazon Web Services, UPS, CA Technologies, and BSA | the Business Software Alliance. We are also grateful to our excellent partners in the computer science education space, and particularly to the members of our Advisory Board, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Computer Science Teachers Association, Girls Who Code, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Cisco, Capital One, Intel, and Microsoft. Please visit for more information.