Tag: social services

United Way Launches Model Community Initiative for Greater Austin Area

Zip code shouldn’t determine what opportunities are available to families, such as jobs, grocery stores, child care, schools, and safe housing–but in our current reality, it does. To support more equitable access to social services for everyone, we are launching a Model Community initiative, a person-centered framework that brings together various agencies, community clinics, and education institutions to offer more holistic delivery of social services. Funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, and St. David’s Foundation, Model Community allows service providers–from health clinics to schools and community-based organizations–to develop a comprehensive view of an individual’s needs, in an effort to coordinate cross-organizational support to improve their quality of life outcomes. Research from the World Health Organization shows that social determinants of health–the non-medical factors and systems that shape one’s quality of life–can have a significant impact on health outcomes. Determinants such as access to education, housing, and healthcare account for between 30-55% of health outcomes. “Our goal is to bring together partners from all sectors including policy makers, health care entities, those with lived experience, funders, grassroots advocates, and community-based organizations to create a more efficient, proactive, human-centered path to connect individuals to social services and therefore improve overall health in the the Greater Austin area,” said Stephanie Cerda, Director of Model Community at United Way. “This work must be informed, led, and owned by the community.” As part of the initiative, our ConnectATX platform currently serves as one of the public-facing access points for the Model […]

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UT Austin Students Win $100,000 to Build and Launch 2-1-1 App

Need help finding access to temporary housing, food banks or health services? You can always call 2-1-1 at anytime–but soon there will also be an app for that. A team of University of Texas at Austin students spent last fall developing a smartphone app called “CallScout,” designed to help Austin residents have easier access to social services information. VP of UWATX’s 2-1-1 Navigation Center, Kay Garza, said this app is an important step to bringing information to more low-income individuals because they are more likely to have phone internet access than home internet access. The project took these 12 students to New York in January, where they competed against student teams from other schools, such as Stanford and UC Berkeley, for the grand $100,000 Watson University Competition prize—and won! The app uses Watson technology developed by IBM. Watson is a supercomputer that can quickly sift through large amounts of information to answer complex questions, keeping “in mind” natural speech nuances. CallScout allows users to ask Watson a complete question, i.e. “Where can I find food for my family?” The app will then list nearest food pantries based on the user’s location, along with contact information, hours of service and user reviews. It also allows users to create their own review of the service received, so others using the app may see useful information when choosing a service to best fit their needs. The UT Austin students created a video showing exactly how the CallScout app will function. The Navigation Center […]

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