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Web developers trade high-paying jobs for civic serviceAcross the U.S., cities are getting high-tech help for longstanding problems thanks to San Francisco-based Code for America. The nonprofit organization pairs local governments with web developers, designers, and entrepreneurs who often give up solid...
-In today's hot tech economy, you might think every high tech employee earns a pretty paycheck. Many do, but Jacob Solomon isn't one of them. He's a recipient of a fellowship from Code for America, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization often described as a Peace Corps for Geeks. Solomon says, he was excited to learn. De'd been selected for the competitive program at least initially. -And then the reality sets in and this is year of public service and not a year of making money intact in San Francisco. -For the year, the fellows received $35,000, a meager amount especially in San Francisco. -I applied for really-- the opportunity to do beginning for work. -The 28 fellows chosen formed small teams and were assigned to local governments around the US to solve challenges-- Silicon Valley style. -Let's approach this as a start up one. Let's do this quickly. Let's do this in an agile, creative, innovative way and not take 3 or 4 years to solve a problem. But actually come up with some ideas that might change the conversation in three months-- six months. -Using web technologies, Code for America has spread Civic innovation from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. -One of the programs that we did-- our first year in City of Boston, fellows took about 3 months to build this web application that help parents find the right public school for their kids. We were told that if it gone through normal channels, it would have taken 2 years and cost about $2 million. -Solomon is working with San Francisco's Human Services Agency to increase enrollment and benefits such as MediCal, food assistance and job resources. -With the ideal have offering no wrong door to human services, so client could walk in to any building, call any phone number and they would get the phone all through the system in the way that works for them so they end up in the right programs in the end. -A toll order, but the fellows are all ready prototyping possibilities. At this career center, every job posting is printed on paper. Solomon and his team quickly mocked up this mobile application that offers online job boards. We are getting what we know as a product that significantly increases enrollment of our clients, increases efficiencies on our internal operations and makes the client experience better and we're getting it for about $200,000. -A small price to pay for a big technological leap forward. In San Francisco, I'm Sumi Das, cnet.com for CBS News.