City of Los Angeles

Co-leading a new fellowship program to make civic data accessible.

Design Strategy

There’s a famous saying we like to use here at verynice. It goes something like, “I don’t know who discovered water, but I know it wasn’t the fish.” In other words, those closest to the issue do not often have the necessary perspective to find a solution for it. It’s this idea that has driven verynice’s involvement in multiple Los Angeles civic initiatives over the past several years. Rather than relying on our local government to innovate from within, we use human centered, design thinking principles to help unlock new solutions and approaches to its civic innovation efforts.



verynice has been involved in multiple Los Angeles civic initiatives, including the Great Streets Initiative and the Sustainable City Plan, as well as national initiatives such as the Code for America Accelerator program. Our increasing focus on civic innovation eventually fueled our idea to carve out a position solely dedicated to furthering local civic initiatives— a Civic Innovation Fellowship—  a natural extension of our Entrepreneur in Residence program, which has played a significant role in incubating and launching businesses with young entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. We would still provide the mentorship and support to our participating entrepreneurs, but their projects would focus on civic initiatives and collaboration with local government.

We approached several different sectors with our idea, but the City of Los Angeles’ Controllers Office was the first to jump on board. The idea behind this partnership is that the Controller’s Office would provide a background in public sector innovation and a knowledge of city issues, processes, and needs. In turn, verynice would contribute perspective from the private sector, using strategic innovation and design-thinking principals. Each of us would support the fellowship by providing training and mentorship and by facilitating the actual creation of the project. Together, we would create an entirely new role for design in government.




The first-ever Civic Innovation Fellow was David Flores, who brought a background in Urban Planning and experience with the Slate Z Promise Zone to the Fellowship. David will be working with the city’s Open Data platform in order to map out unique hybrid data sets. In other words, he aims to tell stories using data— and inspire local entrepreneurs to make change in their community. The images displayed on this page represent a work-in-progress as the project is on-going, but we are proud to have left a legacy on the city through the establishment of this position!




The curriculum for the fellowship is very open-ended, inviting a wide-range of backgrounds and interests to flourish. For the first edition of the fellowship, we were interested in a unique focus on GIS mapping in order to explore new ways for the public to engage with the city’s robust open data platform in a spatial way.

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Explore the maps with the online tool here!

The fellowship was so successful, that we were later engaged by the White House in order to consult them about their own nation-wide initiative to drive innovation.


Civic Innovation Fellow:
David Rosas-Flores

Project Co-Lead:
Matthew Manos

Project Co-Lead:
Juan Lopez


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