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Technology Benefiting Humanity

Assessing and measuring an organization’s impact on systemic social issues, such as poverty, is no easy task.

With multiple players from nonprofits, government, and business involved, how do we pinpoint the influence of a single organization? When it comes to collaborative efforts, measuring the social impact of a partnership becomes even more complex.

In 2015, Cisco Systems partnered with Catholic Charities USA to find a way to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of anti-poverty efforts. Step Up Silicon Valley of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County was selected to launch the Cisco Data Integration project. The initiative is set to streamline the process of evaluating the social impact of each organization’s efforts in a collaboration and monitor success metrics through ongoing data sharing.

How? The Cisco Data Integration project will identify, design, test, implement, and evaluate a technological solution that enables social services agencies to transfer data from their own tracking software to a single shared data warehouse. By taking data from unique and disparate sources to a common hub, the product will help increase the timeliness of, access to, and accuracy of information for professional and volunteer helpers to better connect people in poverty to their needed resources, while tracking their progress out of poverty.

Moving beyond data, the initiative emphasizes that the key goal is respecting the dignity of community members in need. Poverty is complex. Clients in need of food may seek out a separate social service agency for job skills training, and yet another for housing. Rather than putting community members through repetitive, frustrating processes of assessment and intake, the new technology tool will make data on clients readily available through a shared hub for partner agencies who have agreed to share their information.

Thanks to funding from Cisco, Step Up has scaled the project focus to target problem clarification and technology development. The goal is to test the tool with eight national partners, involved in two phases. The first phase includes five organizations within the 1000 Out of Poverty project by Step Up Silicon Valley. Phase two will include Catholic Charities of Monterey, Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa, and Catholic Charities of Fort Worth, Texas.

Step Up Silicon Valley ignites ideas into action as a platform for community members to ideate, incubate, and co-create innovative solutions that disrupt ineffective systems to eliminate poverty. To learn more, contact Almaz Negash, Senior Managing Director at anegash@stepupsv.org.

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