Welcome to Forward Labs

We design apps,
games, and experiences
for civic learning and
community engagement.

What We Offer

We help nonprofits, campaigns, cities and other civic institutions leverage game design and behavioral science to advance civic learning and participation.


We Are Forward Labs

We design apps, games and experiences for civic learning and community engagement.

We center the needs, perspectives, and voices of users (aka community members!) in everything we create. Our human-centered approach highlights three priorities:


Our projects highlight local organizations, issues, campaigns, and action at the municipal and county levels.

Civic Learning

Our content is designed to help users build civic literacy and skills with an emphasis on state and local government.


We optimize for choice and customization so users only follow the topics and locations they care about.


Local Civics Games

Engage your community like never before while delivering powerful learning experiences. Our virtual scavenger hunts use trivia and playful teambuilding competitions to engage players with local causes and organizations.

Forward "Get Out the Vote 2020" Virtual Scavenger Hunt

FALL 2020

Leading up to the fall 2020 election, we ran a Virtual Get Out the Vote Scavenger Hunt in partnership with the Wisconsin League of Women Voters.

See the Results

Wisconsin Earth Day Virtual Scavenger Hunt


A four-day virtual scavenger hunt to support climate action and environmental justice initiatives across the state of Wisconsin.

See the Results
Let's partner on a game!

We offer customizable game packages, game setup and support, custom game design services, and are happy to collaborate on grants. Forward Labs works with cities, states, organizations, libraries, and other civic institutions located anywhere in the U.S.

Learn More about Forward Games

Our Flagship Project

The Forward App

We're building a gamified civic learning app that helps Wisconsinites follow and support local causes and (re)learn local civics. Our goal is to make it easier for everyday people to take meaningful local action on the causes they care about.

Users can follow specific tags locations and search for Groups, Events, Campaigns and more. Forward helps communities collect and share local civic information.


Our goal is to make it easier for everyday people to take local action on the causes they care about. These causes fall into four categories:

Why Forward "Labs"?

Rather than a product or a consultancy, we like to think of ourselves as a lab that is dedicated to the continual improvement of local democratic engagement. The idea for Forward initially emerged from Libby Falck's graduate research at MIT on digital organizing practices in her home state of Wisconsin. Moving forward, we aim to maintain a research-based, human-centered, and iterative approach to the development of products and services in partnership with community-based organizations.

Mentors and Collaborators

Thanks to the following people and organizations for their support

  • The gAlpha Social Impact program from gener8tor and the TechConnect program from Green Bay Startup Hub for incredible support with business and pitch development.
  • The MIT Comparative Media Studies program for supporting Libby Falck's graduate research on civic engagement practices in central Wisconsin. Special thanks to Sasha Costanza-Chock and Scot Osterweil for serving as thesis advisors. Thanks also to the following for their mentorship and support: Eric Gordon, Ceasar McDowell, Jim Paradis, Eric Klopfer, Ethan Zuckerman, Peter Levine, Lisa Parks, Meredith Thompason, Justin Reich, and Shannon Larkin.
  • Alison Hynd and the MIT PKG Center for Public Service for prototype funding and mentorship.
  • Karen Harkness from the City of Appleton, Adriana McClear from the Appleton Public Library, George Penn and Jim Crist from WIUTA, and the representatives of dozens of other community-based organizations for their mentorship and collaboration on research.
  • Teachers and students from Neenah High School and students in the following MIT classes for testing early versions of Forward: Playful Social Interactive Design Explorations (Spring 2018 and Spring 2019), Networked Social Movements (Fall 2018), and Games for Social Change (Spring 2019).
  • Contributors from the MIT Hacking Arts team members who helped test an early Forward prototype: Justin Warren, Aparna Krishnakumar, Efua Akonor, Tiffany Shen, Tommy Mintz, Stephanie MacConnell, Krishna Gadia, and Tess.
  • The MIT Open Documentary Lab staff, fellows and community for their ongoing feedback.

Contact Us

Reach out to get involved or just say hello

Where to Find Us

Fox Cities, WI
Madison, WI

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