Open Referral Helps Skillful Provide Data Transparency Around Workforce Training Programs

“While there may be enough work to maintain full employment to 2030 under most scenarios, the transitions will be very challenging—matching or even exceeding the scale of shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing we have seen in the past.”

These findings come from a recent report released by the McKinsey Global Institute titled “Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation.” The report reflects the current anxieties of today’s workforce: employers worry about finding and retaining the talent they need to remain competitive, and workers stress about how to obtain and hone the skills employers want.

Skillful — a non-profit initiative of the Markle Foundation, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and the State of Colorado — works with local partners to achieve a skills-based labor market that works for everyone. Starting by expanding throughout Colorado and then moving to additional states, the partnership aims to create a model that can be replicated across the U.S. to help millions of Americans overcome barriers to obtaining better-paying jobs.

To this end, Skillful has partnered with the company I work for, Brighthive, a data technology company, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education to launch the Training Provider Outcomes Toolkit (TPOT). Continue reading

Continue reading

Implementing Open Referral with Drupal and WordPress

Abhijeet Chavan is the Chief Technology Officer of Urban Insight, a digital solutions agency that produces platforms like DLAW, a Drupal-based legal aid resource platform. In this post, he describes the recent adoption of Open Referral for DLAW’s legal aid resource websites, which are in use in over a dozen states across the country. Welcome, Abhijeet! –ed

Many organizations provide health, legal, and other social services to people in need. If organizations can publish information about the services they provide in a common format, this data can be aggregated and searchable so that people needing assistance can find right organization for their needs. The Open Referral initiative has developed a data interchange format called the Human Service Data Specification (HSDS) for publishing machine-readable data about service providers, their locations, and the services they provide.

For organizations that use the Drupal content management system for maintaining their websites, we have developed <em”>openreferral-drupal (ORD), an open source Drupal module to make it possible to publish resource directory data in HSDS format. The ORD module was developed as part of the Drupal for Legal Aid Websites (DLAW) project. Continue reading

Continue reading

Maryland Open211: Learning a New Language

There is a great scene in the 1984 version of Footloose where the high school “punk” Wren (played by Kevin Bacon) seeks permission from the town council to hold a dance. The local Pastor (played by John Lithgow) reminds Wren, the local citizens, and the town council that a dance is fraught with evil and should not be allowed. The tone of the once divisive meeting changed when Wren begins to quote biblical passages about the religious benefits of dancing: people began to listen and a dialogue was opened between the students and the faith/city leaders. Wren learned the unique “language” of the town council and in the end actually gets permission to take the Pastor’s daughter to the dance.

2-1-1 Maryland’s evolution to Open Referral has been similar to that 1984 film. We are learning the new ‘language’ of API’s, while also learning to communicate with new nontraditional partners.

2-1-1 Maryland’s mission is to ensure all residents of our state have access to community resources that can help them meet their needs. That’s why we’re excited to announce the Maryland Open211 project. Maryland Open211 will test and scale innovative means of sharing 2-1-1’s invaluable resource data as an open, interoperable resource available to all. Continue reading

Continue reading

Hacking on Link With Optimizely And Benetech

Open Referral went to San Francisco on Wednesday August 9th to participate in a social good hack-day at Optimizely. In collaboration with our partner Benetech, Open Referral set up as one of the social good projects that 20+ employees worked on for the day.


Overall, our team was strong in front-end web and mobile developers, so we decided to “forward engineer” Zendesk’s Link-SF application so that it can be deployed on any Open Referral-compatible API. […]

You can find the updated Link source code in our Github repository. If you want to run this app locally, you can save a file as `config.js`and follow the instructions on the setup page. Continue reading

Continue reading

Version 1.1 of the Human Services Data API Specification

[This post is from Kin Lane, the API Evangelist, who is serving as Open Referral’s deputized Technical Lead for our OpenAPI specification project. Thanks Kin!]

Version 1.1 of the Human Services Data API specification (HSDA 1.1) is now available for review and comment.

This is an alpha implementation of our OpenAPI specification. It is built upon version 1.1 of Open Referral’s Human Services Data Specification (HSDS). Whereas HSDS is designed to facilitate raw exchange and bulk publication of resource directory data, the HSDA serves as a common protocol for resource directory APIs.

To facilitate testing, we’ve made the HSDA available in this demonstration portal. This portal is a redeployable (and forkable) reference implementation that provides guidance for working with the HSDA protocols. Implementers can use it to easily set up a “developers’ area” for their own API implementation.

Moving forward, we’ll collect feedback from stakeholders and reiterate this process twice more over the course of the summer. We’re setting a day/time for the next Open Referral Assembly now; if you’re interested, indicate your availability here. Continue reading

Continue reading