Weaving a Stronger Social Safety Net


Across the United States, 47 million people live in poverty, 56.7 million people have a disability, and 10 million people annually are subject to domestic violence. These individuals could greatly benefit from existing social services. Unfortunately, the social safety net is hard to see, difficult to navigate, and easy to fall through.

Thousands of organizations exist to help these individuals and many more fund social services including food, shelter, healthcare, job training, childcare, family support services, and legal aid. Each organization has valuable data that they dispense to the individuals they serve; however, that data is locked in fragmented and redundant silos across thousands of human services organizations and referral providers. These costly and ineffective data silos make it difficult for service providers to connect clients with the services they need.

Benetech Service net is an open standards data exchange platform that makes it easier to share and maintain information on local social and human services. Organizations providing referrals or referral technology and agencies providing information about their services, such as community-based shelters, food pantries, or government agencies, can work together to make better data available for everyone.

Benetech transitioned the Service Net project to advisor Greg Bloom, of the Open Referral Initiative and their fiscal sponsor, Aspiration in 2021. Our organizations are closely aligned on enabling access to accurate human services information and helping the social sector use software tools more effectively.