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Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell Announces City Initiative to Help Save Families Up to $23,000 Per Year 

New CiviForm program reduced time for residents to apply to City discount programs by 80%, offering up to $23,000 total possible savings.  

Benefits portal at makes it easier and faster for residents to get the help they need. 

SEATTLE – Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the expansion of the City’s Affordable Seattle initiative – part of his efforts to make City discount and benefit programs easily accessible to all. Mayor Harrell has championed CiviForm – an innovative portal designed as a simple one-stop shop to quickly and conveniently apply for City services to save residents time and money by making it easier to apply for multiple benefit and discount programs at the same time. This initiative is supported by a new Executive Order directing all City benefit and discount programs to identify and implement changes that decrease the burden on residents. Among the changes, departments are directed to adopt or integrate with the CiviForm platform by the end of 2024.  

CiviForm is a tool that makes it faster and easier for residents to apply to City of Seattle benefit and discount programs and was designed with community input to ensure it works for the neighbors who will benefit the most. The tool was developed by the City of Seattle’s Innovation and Performance team and Seattle Information Technology Department with pro-bono support from Fellows – a program through Google’s philanthropic arm that provides technical expertise to help nonprofits and civic entities solve their biggest technical challenges. The City of Seattle is the custodian of all data and data is not shared with  

“CiviForm is a game changer for our communities – this exciting initiative and new technology is already making a meaningful difference supporting Seattle residents, helping them save time, save money, and access the resources and programs they need,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Rooted in Seattle’s spirit of big ideas and support for those in need, we are leveraging innovation and collaboration to make it easier for people to understand what assistance programs they qualify for and then apply in just minutes. CiviForm exemplifies our One Seattle approach to public-private collaborations: its development was supported by know-how from technology companies and its design was informed by testing with community non-profit partners.” 

Residents and community partners can learn about, check their eligibility, and apply for City of Seattle benefits and discount programs at The site is accessible via desktop and mobile in eight languages: English, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Somali, Amharic, Korean and Tagalog.  

In its first year of piloting with community partners in Seattle, CiviForm reduced time for residents to apply to a City discount program from an average of 30 minutes to 5 minutes, resulting in time savings of 80%. For qualified households, the total available savings through programs that use CiviForm is up to $23,000 per year, and the City is continuing to add more benefits to the tool with a goal of including over 20 assistance programs by the end of 2024.  

“We jumped at the opportunity to support the City of Seattle through the Fellowship program which offered local Googlers across a range of functions including Program Management, Engineering, UX and more the chance to give back to their communities,” said Paco Galanes, Google director and leader of their Puget Sound offices. “This collaboration demonstrates what can happen when the public and private sector come together and use technology as a vehicle to create equitable access to critical resources, for everyone.” 

Currently, the City of Seattle offers residents the ability to apply for the following programs via CiviForm: 

  • Seattle Parks and Recreation Scholarship Program: Residents can save 50-90% off recreation programs for all ages including aquatics, recreation, preschool and childcare.  
  • Seattle Preschool Program: Residents can get access to free or discounted preschool for children ages three and four. 
  • Gold Card: Residents ages 60 and older can save on retail, services, art, entertainment, and tourism with the Gold Card, including free passes to the Seattle Aquarium. 
  • FLASH Card: Residents ages 18-59 with qualifying disabilities can save on retail, services, art, entertainment, and tourism with the FLASH Card, including free passes to the Seattle Aquarium. 

Mayor Harrell’s July 12th Affordable Seattle Executive Order directs all City departments with resident benefit and discount programs to begin working with the Affordable Seattle team (a collaboration of the City Budget Office, Innovation & Performance team, and Seattle Information Technology Department) to map out the current state and develop a timeline to adopt or implement CiviForm. This work will include identifying barriers to access, standardizing data collection, and continuously improving programs to make it easier for residents to live and thrive in our communities. 

“We heard from residents how tired they are finding and then repeating their information to apply to each individual City program,” said Seattle Innovation and Performance Director Leah Tivoli. “We also heard from residents the critical role community-based organizations play in their lives helping them connect to the myriad of programs offered at the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions and authorities. We are proud of our collaboration with to make it simpler for residents and community-based organizations and excited to scale a better experience to other programs in the coming year.” 

A pro bono team of 14 full-time Fellows including product managers, engineers, user experience researchers and designers dedicated nine months to the project. Fellows worked with staff across the City to co-create the CiviForm solution. Community-based organizations were also involved from the start, with partners including El Centro de la Raza, Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC), and Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) providing invaluable input throughout development. CiviForm was designed knowing that case workers at trusted community-based organizations often apply for programs on behalf of their clients.  

The City of Bloomington, Indiana and the State of Arkansas have also adopted CiviForm and the City of Charlotte, North Carolina is the latest addition to join the software collaborative. Exygy is the steward of the CiviForm shared open-source software project and is supported through a grant from Smart Cities Connect recently named CiviForm as one the 50 most transformative smart projects of 2023. 

“The Civiform program is at the cutting-edge – not only as a bold use of technology but also by cutting down costs, paperwork, and application times,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Based on CiviForm’s early success, this is a model that other jurisdictions across the country are learning from and adopting, and we hope to continue to see more embrace this approach. Our commitment to serving as a learning, growing organization means we won’t just stop at releasing CiviForm – we will continue to improve and enhance this program for neighbors across Seattle. Thank you to everyone who supported this effort.” 

Learn more about the CiviForm open-source tool or reach out to the team at 


Daniela Lizarraga, Navigator Supervisor, El Centro de la Raza 

“Collaborating with the City of Seattle and has been amazing. My dedication is to serve families in Seattle who face language and technology barriers. I was honored to be able to provide valuable feedback and lift the voices of the community I work with in hopes to have more equitable access to resources through CiviForm.” 

Katie Yuen, Community Connector, El Centro de la Raza 

“It is a privilege to work closely with the city and to design a platform to help our vulnerable community. They are such a professional and knowledge team. I believe technology can change life, especially for those who have language barriers.  Seattle’s cost of living has sky-rocketed, the CivicForm would impact many people to make their lives easier.” 

Karia Wong, Family Resource Center Director, CISC 

“CISC is devoted to improving equitable access to information, resources, and social services for the past 50 years. We are thrilled to partner with the city and for this CiviForm project that provides single point of entry for vital public programs at the city. It’s been such a pleasure to be part of this effort in making resources more accessible for people to improve their quality of life. Thank you city leaders and Google Fellows for their dedication in serving the community!” 

Meg Woolf, City of Seattle, Human Services Department, Age Friendly Program Coordinator 

“The Gold & FLASH Card program, for older adults and people with disabilities, has seen a steady increase in eligible applications thanks to CiviForm’s unified platform, and their ongoing technical support allowed us to translate our web application into multiple languages to reduce barriers to applying and reach multi-lingual audiences.”  

Erin Hattersley, Civic Fellowships Program Manager, 

“The Fellowship with the City of Seattle was an incredible opportunity to work alongside community members and government staff to build a solution that expands access to critical government services. We developed CiviForm at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when communities nationwide were struggling to find and access public assistance. Since then, state and local governments across the country have started to adopt CiviForm with pro bono support from Seattle’s leadership in developing this tool has started a movement that truly centers the needs of residents and establishes a growing collaborative for shared software.” 

Bion Johnson, Software Engineer – Tech Lead, Fellow 

“For the 17 years I’ve lived in Seattle it’s been difficult to watch the city become increasingly unaffordable for so many. It’s been gratifying to work on a project that helps people access benefits that make living here more feasible. It’s also been a delight to work alongside the committed public servants at the City of Seattle who are engaged on CiviForm. I am impressed with the people who serve our city and do so much with limited resources.”  

Lianne Okada Yi, Program Manager, Fellow 

“I’ve lived in Seattle for almost 25 years, and I’m always looking for ways to keep our local community thriving. But as a working parent with three kids, finding time to contribute in a meaningful way has been difficult. Building CiviForm with the City of Seattle allowed me to use my existing skills to drive a positive impact in my community while also developing new skills to further my career at Google. Serving as a Fellow has been one of the highlights of my career, and I feel more connected to the City of Seattle than ever before.” 

About the Fellowship works to bring the best of Google to nonprofits and civic entities who are tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges. The Fellowship embeds teams of Googlers with a variety of expertise with nonprofits and civic entities for up to six months of full-time pro-bono work. Fellows and their host nonprofit or civic entity build solutions together, working as a team to ensure sustained and lasting impact.