We are thrilled to announce the incredible organizations and projects that we have chosen to receive Technology Grants this year. See below to learn more about the projects we will be working on and the organizations doing important work to help break the cycle of poverty for people in Chicago.
We strongly believe in our grantees and the important work that they are doing. We hope that you will consider joining us in supporting them by making a contribution to one or more of these very worthy organizations.
|Cradles to Crayons
Partner Portal Overhaul
|Loaves & Fishes
eSignature and Text Messaging Systems
|Windy City Harvest
About Cradles to Crayons:
Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless and low-income situations, with the essentials they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play. The three-part model is community based: first, they collect new and gently used children’s items (clothes, shoes, toys, books, school supplies, hygiene items, and more) from community members; next, they welcome 22,000 annual volunteers to help sort, check for quality, clean, and package up items for distribution; finally, they partner with more than 50 social service agencies to provide the children in their programs with customized packs full of basic needs items in their size, reading or developmental level, or even their favorite color.
About the Partner Portal Overhaul Project:
Cradles to Crayons Chicago’s Annual Partner Survey indicated that the largest roadblock that partner agencies face in receiving items from them is their online Partner Portal. By overhauling this system and making it easier to use, partners will be able to better access services, increasing the number of children they can provide with the essential items they need to thrive.
Every young person who enters Ignite, formerly Teen Living Programs (TLP), has the chance for a new beginning — one to be defined by their potential, not their circumstances. Ignite provides everything young people, aged 18 to 26, need to break their cycle of homelessness, reclaim their youth, and take their first step into a stable future. They accomplish this through a comprehensive spectrum of programming, and by uniting with their partners to demand systemic change—greater recognition, resources, and policy reform—on behalf of young people experiencing homelessness everywhere.
About the Salesforce Implementation Project:
This project entails the development and implementation of a customized digital platform, containing comprehensive case management software, with a communication platform, using Salesforce. This user-intuitive system will allow Ignite to run better reports, track performance, and more accurately measure and report impact. The system’s cloud-based nature will enhance interagency accessibility, for both staff who enter data, as well as staff who track and report it. Ignite will increase file organization and better meet funder demands through system alerts when forms and signature required updating. Beyond this, the system’s mobile accessibility will enable youth the ability to begin their enrollment process independently, and inform them in advance on the requirements for program participation. They too will receive notifications when tasks need to be completed, such as paying their rent, meeting with case managers, or providing an updated signature.
About Loaves & Fishes:
Loaves & Fishes Community Services is an anti-poverty, hunger relief organization with a mission to provide healthy food and impactful programs to promote self-sufficiency. They provide access to nutritious food and resources that help families overcome the barriers that prevent them from living healthy, economically stable lives.
The core grocery assistance program features a choice market, open four days per week. Through this shopping experience, over 800 families a week select food and household items in a grocery store format, at no cost. In addition to food assistance, Loaves & Fishes CARES programs help families stay housed and employed, and include the following agency run programs: emergency financial assistance, car donation, resource meetings, public benefits applications, tax return preparation, job search assistance, and Moving Up, which helps participants take steps toward self-sufficiency. Through community partners, Loaves & Fishes is also a site for computer training, English conversation classes, financial literacy, legal assistance, and emotional counseling.
About the eSignature and Text Messaging Project:
Development of a text messaging system for the CARES programs will allow Loaves & Fishes to implement a nudging strategy including reminders for appointment times and required documentation, in addition to healthy living tips. By utilizing text messaging, they expect to enable clients to be better prepared for appointments and reduce the number of missed appointments, saving staff and volunteer time and increasing their efficiency in serving other clients.
Additionally, Loaves & Fishes plans to implement an electronic signature system to improve staff efficiency and innovate the client experience. Currently, every food and CARES client must sign a signature page. Staff will later process this electronically to reconcile food clients with the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s (NIFB) system, a contractual requirement with NIFB (this data is then shared with the federal government). An electronic signature system that allows for export to NIFB will reduce staff time by five to six hours per week. It also would allow them to use electronic signatures at pick-up, meaning that proxies and clients who utilize online ordering would not have to enter the building, creating a new opportunity for curbside pick-up. This would reduce the burden on the facility and decrease visit times for both online orders and their shopping clients. This innovation creates the potential for expanding curbside pick-up concurrently with online ordering, helping to serve clients more effectively. An e-signature platform will also be utilized to streamline offsite food distribution. Currently, Loaves & Fishes operates two offsite pantries and makes nearly 2,000 deliveries annually to seniors and disabled individuals. By utilizing technology with e-signature capability, they will speed up the food distribution process and save staff and volunteer time on database entry and NIFB reconciliation.
About Windy City Harvest:
The Windy City Harvest program manages a network of 14 urban farms, delivering locally grown food to the community, promoting healthy lifestyles, and actively recruiting residents into youth and workforce development training. The Windy City Harvest (WCH) program serves a diverse audience of youth, adults with barriers to employment, and those seeking a new career, and operates a VeggieRx program in collaboration with two federally qualified health centers.
About the CRM Project:
The complexity of partnerships and participants adds to the depth of the programs and creates a need for streamlining data collection and management with a CRM system. The CRM will allow WCH to systematically collect, monitor, and report on data on factors such as trends in employment, retention, and overall success of the individual clients. Similarly, with VeggieRx, WCH will be able to track participant engagement, examine and report on the overall participation rate, and other success measures. All of these data points will help inform programming, planning, and needs for various wrap-around services, for example, to support retention and future success. WCH has identified the need for a cloud-based database because staff work from different locations, and others, such as CBG’s fundraising and management staff, will be able to use the database for reporting to funders and others.