How can I help?

This is an open source initiative, by which we mean that anyone can freely participate in it and even adapt any of our content for their own purposes. There are lots of ways that you might be able to get involved. For example…

Programmers, data scientists, and other technical people…

Check out the Github repos for the Open Referral format and the Ohana API; read through our project documentation. Ask questions — if we don’t know the answers, help us figure them out!

If you live in the area of one of our pilot projects, you can be very helpful indeed. If you don’t live nearby a pilot project, you might be able to help start one yourself. Attend a local Code for America brigade, or some other civic technology network activity, and ask around to see if anyone else is already working on projects involving resource data.

Information-and-referral practitioners…

Read through our data specification, ask any questions that come to mind — and if we don’t know the answers, help us figure them out. Make suggestions for ways to improve the spec.

Even more importantly, identify your own needs: what do you want to see happen? In a world where community resource directory data could flow among systems, where would you want to see if flow? It can be quite valuable to simply scope out an actionable ‘use case’ (some specific action that would benefit some specific set of users).

“I work in health, human, and/or social services.”

You may be one of our most important kinds of participants. Our work only succeeds if it can help you better serve your clients. You can help us identify, scope, and implement a ‘use case,’ in which we facilitate an open data exchange that can improve the deliverability of your services and/or services in your community. Help us get there.

“I don’t code, I’m just a citizen and I want to help!”

There is LOTS of work to be done by people who don’t code! First, read through our documentation, and ask us questions about anything that’s unclear. Then, for example, you might start learning about how information about services gets collected in your community. Talk to the people who are already producing resource directories; see if they’re interested in finding new ways to produce and/or use this information. If so, write a summary of how they do their work and what they say that they need.

NOTE: The most significant way to help may be to find people who have some of the above experiences, and start talking with each other. Together, you might be able to form a team in your community consisting of some combination of civic technologists, service providers, with support from local government and/or funders. If that looks like it’s happening, we will help you launch a pilot Open Referral project! Contact for more information.


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