Voices of the Benetech Service Net Community

By Julianna Wright, posted on

Benetech is working with local Bay Area organizations to increase access to human services in the region. Earlier this year, we began piloting Benetech Service Net with six community partners:  Eden I&R (211 Alameda County)Health LeadsLegal Aid Association of CaliforniaSan Mateo CountyShelterTech, and United Way Bay Area (211 Program).

As we move into the second half of the pilot, we’re pleased to highlight reflections from a few of our partners on the learnings from this cross-sector collaboration.

Not familiar with Benetech Service Net? Watch our explainer video.

Placing Community at the Center of Our Work

Health Leads resource operations associate, Aranxta Sanchez-Cruz, wrote about the “Brave New World for Community Resource Navigation” that this pilot has enabled. A national healthcare organization that partners with communities and health systems to address systemic causes of inequity and disease, Health Leads has long been leading the way in compiling data on community resources. In the blog, she reflected on the value of the monthly meetings that the pilot partners have held to discuss their experiences using the Service Net platform:

“For community resource databases to be effective, they must place community at the center of how they collect and share data. But how do you get someone, especially your “competition,” to show their cards and feel safe doing it? By bringing on a diverse group of participants in equal partnership, the pilot has created space and trust to leverage everyone’s unique strengths and expertise–whether that of a hyper-local CBO [community based organization] or a national organization like ours.”

Read Aranxta’s full blog: “A Brave New World for Community Resource Navigation”

Technology Cannot Be Built in a Vacuum

Our partners at ShelterTech, a nonprofit dedicated to solving the biggest technology problems faced by people experiencing homelessness, also released a blog about their experience with the pilot. This piece champions a collaborative, open-source approach to addressing homelessness and poverty in the Bay Area:

“Benetech’s Service Net initiative underlines that building technology cannot be done in a vacuum and that, despite our important work as an individual organization, we are worth even more when part of a collective. Our main priority is always the human lives that we can be instrumental in changing, and the ways in which we can have the biggest impact on them. Being part of programs like this one encourages us to remember that and keep it at the very center of what we do.”

Read the full post on ShelterTech’s blog: “Better Together: ShelterTech’s Participation in the Benetech Service Net Pilot Program”

Improving the Overall Social Safety Net System

Finally, our pilot partners at the United Way Bay Area had the opportunity to share their perspective on the project with local business reporter, Carolyn Said, for the San Francisco Chronicle. During the Interview, Kelly Batson, senior vice president for community impact at United Way of the Bay Area, shared her motivations for participating in the pilot. Said wrote:

Her [Batson’s] goals in participating in Service Net mirror those of the pilot itself: improve the overall system, share the data United Way collects, stop duplicating efforts, and make it easier for service providers to enter information. “Why are we all updating the same resources?” Batson said. “The platform Benetech is creating lets us look at each other’s data and see when a change has been made so we’re not all trying to update the same records.”

Read the complete article in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Tech Project Aims to Help Nonprofits Better Serve Community

Stronger Together

Without our partners there would be no Service Net. We thank all of our pilot participants and the greater Service Net community for their support of this initiative. Together we can ensure that everyone has access to the human services they need, when they need it, no matter which organization they reach out to for help.

Stay tuned for more news on our Bay Area pilot and an update on our work in Sacramento.

Learn more about the Bay Area pilot of Benetech Service Net