Want to use your engineering skills for good? Empower is hiring software engineers!

Empower is a nonprofit that works to dramatically increase civic engagement by helping groups organize their communities with friend-to-friend outreach. That's called "relational organizing."

In 2020, we were the largest relational organizing tech and training coalition for progressive organizations and nonprofits, training 77,000 people from over 1,000 organizations (especially organizations that work in youth, Black, and Latinx communities), growing to 5 times larger than even the Biden campaign’s relational program.

In 2022, we built on that work to do vaccine outreach as well as some internal experiments on new styles of relational organizing. The preliminary results from those experiments are looking really good, which means we have a ton of work to do to productize everything and scale it up for 2024!

If you're a software engineer looking to make a difference, this is an extremely high-leverage opportunity!

How does Empower increase civic engagement and voting?

We train volunteers to reach out to friends and family and share personal stories about the issues that matter most to them.

When people ask their close friends and family to get involved or vote, those friends and family members become much more likely to actually do it. Empower is a product and course of training that helps community groups scale up this kind of direct personal outreach. (For a concrete example, see the FAQ.)

It’s effective. Empower has been studied in nine different independently-run, randomly controlled trials which all found that its usage led to large and statistically significant increases in voter turnout — far more effective than phone-banking or text-banking.

It’s growing fast. The number of conversations Empower facilitated grew by over 10x between the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, and we grew by 10x again in the 2020 election cycle. In order to keep up that pace for 2024, we need to grow our team and keep adding features that help our organizations!

What's the organization like?

There are two main teams: product/engineering, and organizing/training. We're spread out all across the country, with some clustering in the Bay Area and in Madison, WI (you could be anywhere). The product/engineering team has one short stand-up each day.

Empower is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on age, ancestry, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, gender identity or expression, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, marital status, family or medical care leave, religion, genetic information, medical condition, physical or mental disability, or veteran status.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to our organization. Women, BIPOC people, and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community are strongly encouraged to apply. We're currently around 40% female and non-binary and 30% BIPOC.

What's the stack?

  • TypeScript (it's fine if you only happen to know JavaScript)
  • React (good to have experience with this)
  • React Native (it’s fine not to know this)
  • Node (it’s fine not to know this)
  • AWS (it’s fine not to know this)

Using TypeScript (we still have some leftover JS) everywhere has allowed us to share important code across mobile, web, and server.

What sorts of things do we work on?

Our roadmap is driven by the needs of our users. We talk to organizations that use us, uncover patterns in their needs, and then design our product to be maximally useful. We also take work that keeps our product velocity as high as possible. Here are some past examples:

  • Push notifications — we made it so organizations can send out their own customized push notifications
  • Voter file integration — we built support for integrating with VAN (a commonly-used political database)
  • Organizing director dashboard — we built a table that shows performance of each organizer by recursing down through the tree of relational connections. Here's a picture!:
  • Mobile release automation — we started using AppCenter to take most of the manual work out of mobile releases.

We have a good foundation to build on and a lot of great feedback from groups that used Empower in 2022, so there's a ton more features to work on! A few things on the roadmap are:

  • Making it easier for people to refer their friends when someone is really engaged.
  • Improving support for custom fields so that organizations have more control over the data that they collect and use.
  • Redesigning the user experience for organizers to encourage them to take the highest impact actions
  • Improving support for large, national organizations

Who would be a good fit?

This opportunity is perfect for someone who has honed their engineering and product skills in other roles and now wants to put them to use to protect democracy.

We're looking for a product-focused engineer who is a generalist and who:

  • Cares deeply about the mission
  • Can write solid code, and also can come up with expedient hacks where warranted
  • Has frontend experience, including with JavaScript and React
  • Has US work authorization
  • Is productive in a remote environment
  • Communicates well, is open-minded, and is open to improvement and learning
  • Takes initiative
  • Takes ownership over end results: launching stuff that gets used!

If your background or experience are a little different but you think you'd be great in this role, please apply!

What's the compensation like?

We've made a deliberate decision to gather great product and engineering people by paying more than nonprofits typically pay for these roles:
  • $150,000-$175,000/yr based on experience for Senior Software Engineers ($125,000-$150,000/yr for Software Engineers with less experience)
  • Full health care
  • Each year, there are 10 vacation days, 10 paid holidays, 7 paid personal days, in addition to sick leave.

What's great about working here?

  • Empower combines Bay Area style talent and approach to designing and building products with the prowess of highly experienced organizing trainers. Both sides of the organization are critical and learn a lot from each other.
  • A strong technical stack and minimizing red tape means we can iterate quickly
  • People are nice! You might get cheese from Wisconsin as a holiday present.
  • It's very bubble-bursting — you get to interact with a much larger cross-section of society than in most roles in tech
  • You get to have a huge impact on civic engagement and the future of democracy in our country


Concretely, how does Empower increase civic engagement and voting?

Here’s an example. In 2018, a group used Empower to help organize Latinx restaurant workers who wanted a minimum wage, rather than $2 + tips, in Michigan. Those workers talked about the issue with their friends and family — who were often low-propensity voters — and just before the election, asked them something like, "I need this minimum wage. Will you vote on my behalf?"

As you might imagine, this kind of direct personal ask is immensely powerful for increasing engagement and getting people to vote — and our positive results are backed up by multiple, independent, large random controlled studies of Empower. Empower has been shown to be much more effective than e.g. a stranger calling or knocking on a door. This project is one of the most cost-effective methods of increasing turnout.

How do I get in touch?

Glad you asked. Just press this nice purple button: