Open Referral Powers Two New Tools for Minnesotans Seeking Legal Aid

Minnesota’s Legal Services State Support project seeks to improve access to justice for all Minnesotans. An integral part of “State Support’s” work is managing LawHelpMN.org, a comprehensive website that provides free information about legal resources and services.

Throughout 2018, State Support has worked to create a centralized portal of legal services available in Minnesota– the Legal Organizations Online Network (LOON) – and a redesign for the LawHelpMN.org website. Both LOON, which launched in October 2018, and the redesigned LawHelpMN, which will launch in early 2019, leverage Open Referral’s data standards to ensure clients receive more accurate information about the legal resources that are available to help them. Continue reading

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The Florida Legal Aid Resource Federation: Pilot Report

After two years of development, we’re pleased to share details of our successful Florida Legal Aid Resource Federation pilot!

Initiated in 2016 (see our original post here) and completed in 2018, with support from the Legal Services Corporation and the Florida Bar Foundation, the Florida Legal Aid Resource Federation (FLARF) was a complex project with a simple goal:

We aimed to ensure that accurate information about Florida’s legal aid providers can be reliably updated by those providers in one place – one official record! – and subsequently shared as standardized, canonical open data. (This pilot goal was directly in the service of our ultimate goal: to ensure that this information can be found and used in any given channel through which someone might look for it.)

The pilot phase of this project has concluded successfully! 

The FLARF pilot yielded a functioning ‘beta’ system through which resource data can be shared among every organization that receives grants from the project’s primary funders. (This includes about 90% of the legal aid resources in the state!) This information is now accessible to each legal aid provider in Florida within their own case management system – improving their ability to refer clients from one legal aid provider to another.

We’re now beginning work on additional implementations that will make this data accessible through more and more channels (such as through integration with resource referral call centers, medical-legal partnership programs, even just better search results in Google, etc).

Read our complete final report on this project here. Continue reading

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NYC government publishing open data for municipally-contracted service providers

This post comes to us from Oonagh Jordan, a VISTA Fellow with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Opportunity. Oonagh is leading the project management of this initiative.

In New York City, community-based organizations that deliver programming at neighborhood sites play a crucial role in administering City-funded programs and services. There is, however, currently no central listing of all of the city-funded service site locations across the five boroughs where this critical work occurs. If there were a list of this kind, agencies, policymakers, and advocates could better understand how resources are distributed throughout the City and address any gaps in service.

The Social Service Site Location Data project aims to support efficient interagency coordination, collaboration, and decision-making by making this information accessible. …

After some research, NYC Opportunity decided to use the Human Services Data Specification, with some modifications, to organize the data. An advantage of using this existing open-source model is that it is already well-documented and easily ingestible by other applications or systems. Continue reading

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Building Both Technology and Community to Address Homelessness in San Francisco

ShelterTech is currently a 50 member strong all-volunteer non-profit, bringing free wifi and other digital tools to the homeless community of San Francisco.

In November 2017, we won a grant from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to collaborate with the SF Bar Association’s Homeless Advocacy Project to digitize their bi-annual print-only resource guide consisting of hundreds of pages on housing, healthcare, job training, education, and other social services. AskDarcel.org, the new online resource guide, now has a database of over 700 organizations and 1100 services available to those in need in SF.

Our goal is to help solve some of the biggest technology challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness, including providing information to help individuals cope with homelessness and get on a path to housing.

To achieve this goal, ShelterTech has adopted the Open Referral format — to both facilitate AskDarcel’s internal resource directory information management and to enable their application to integrate with the broader ecosystem of health, human, and social services activities in the Bay Area including 2-1-1, government agency databases, and a new human services data sharing initiative being developed by Benetech. Our adoption of Open Referral, along with our commitment to open sourcing their projects, played an important role in their grant application with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. Continue reading

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Stone Souping Social Service Information with Airtable

The Sahana Software Foundation makes high quality, open source information management systems for emergency preparedness, response, recovery and resilience. We were recently awarded a microgrant by Open Referral (using funding from Stanford’s Digital Impact program, with fiscal sponsorship from the Alliance of Information and Referral Services) to develop and deploy an open source system for managing community resource data in the popular AirTable platform and making it accessible via Open Referral’s Human Services Data API. Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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OpenCIOC: Exploring New Models for Sharing and Collaboration

Across Canada, OpenCIOC project software supports the work of hundreds of diverse community organizations, including community information providers and volunteer centres, local and provincial governments, 211 providers, mental health associations, health support networks/organizations, seniors’ support services, and many others – as well as millions of public users each year. … We’re so excited to now be participating in projects like Open Referral, both to contribute through sharing our collaboration and data exchange experiences in this sector, and because of the opportunity it provides to expand our users’ ability to collaborate with a wider community. Continue reading

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