Read descriptions of these timely, early-stage projects that are aiming to shift practice in the social sector.
Autism Village, based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, is a website and mobile application for the autism community. Autism Village’s innovative core is a Yelp-like service that helps families find resources such as dentists, restaurants and playgrounds that are welcoming and suitable for their child with autism’s particular needs. Autism Village has had strong early traction, with more than 10,000 users and a successful Kickstarter campaign backed by more than 1,200 supporters. If they have another year of successful fundraising, Autism Village will put the finishing touches on their platform including several features to attract new users and generate revenue from the business community. Autism Village plans to formally launch in early 2017.
Private insurers are increasingly motivated to pay for services that improve health outcomes and ultimately decrease costs. Through an independent evaluation, MANNA has demonstrated that its medically appropriate meals and nutrition counseling create such cost savings. Through partnerships with organizations such as Health Partners Plans, a managed care organization, MANNA will be able to receive reimbursement for the cost of their services. Such partnerships have the potential to transform MANNA’s business model and dramatically increase its impact in the next five years. Funding will allow MANNA to modernize its in-house data collection systems, enabling them to monitor, improve and communicate the quality of their services to private insurers—a new market of institutional customers and an accompanying stream of revenue.
Panhandling is an age-old and complex challenge faced by cities worldwide, but the founders of StreetChange believe that technology could provide new solutions that benefit everyone. In partnership with the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP), StreetChange will use mobile technology, e-commerce and Bluetooth technology to incentivize Philadelphians who are both homeless and panhandling to visit or return to social services. StreetChange will also provide pedestrians with a modern and simple way to make donations and ensure that their generosity has a positive impact. By facilitating beneficial transactions between homeless individuals and the pedestrians and social services organizations wishing to assist them, this solution has the potential to positively impact the way cities address panhandling nationwide.
Update: Led by its Founder Andrew Siegel and Managing Partner Dan Treglia, StreetChange has taken major strides since it received its first funding, from Barra, in December 2015. In addition to completing the app’s development and launching their website, StreetChange has conducted a beta test with support from Mental Health Association of Southeastern PA, which informed improvements to the app and helped them strengthen proposals to funders, investors and partners. They have engaged critical stakeholders including the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services and Center City District and have begun meetings with other homeless services providers to understand how the platform could provide greater value to this group. They have also received strong media coverage, including several local publications and a video produced by Verizon and Upworthy that has been viewed more than 3.5 million times. StreetChange is in the process of developing a business plan, including formalizing partnerships with providers. StreetChange is seeking funders and investors so that it can build its team and launch the app in summer of 2017.
Healthy Rowhouse Project, a collaborative hosted by the Center for Architecture, aims to tackle the barriers preventing Philadelphia from repairing rowhouses at scale in order to improve the health of residents and preserve critical affordable housing. They aim to improve 5,000 houses per year—thousands more homes than any other U.S. city has been able to repair—at an average cost of $10,000 per home. Building from their preliminary research and with the support of their multi-disciplinary coalition, in the next two years Healthy Rowhouse Project will develop a new home repair infrastructure, including an organized network of service delivery partners, new program designs and creative financing for property owners and investors. This grant was originally made to the Center for Architecture, the initial fiscal sponsor of Healthy Rowhouse Project, but was transferred to Clarifi, Inc. when the project relocated.
Inglis has designed a new service delivery model called LIFE that will enable their clients with significant disabilities to live more independently in a community setting, rather than in an institutional environment. The LIFE center will be in the new complex and will offer enhanced medical services, adapted computing, education and other opportunities for community engagement. To implement the LIFE program and support the transition of residents from Inglis and other nursing homes into a newly constructed community facility, Inglis plans to employ Pay for Success (PFS) financing, an emerging social finance tool. The grant will support Inglis’ efforts to hire experienced consultants to oversee the PFS initiative’s implementation, including deal structuring and evaluation.
Bethesda Project is developing a new model of care for chronically homeless individuals, Bethesda Beacon. Their goal is to make available within one building a seamless process for people to transition from living on the streets, to engaging in social services, to receiving and recovering from medical care, to living in permanent housing. The “step-up” model includes a welcoming café, medical respite care for 30 people and 50 units of permanent housing—all under one roof. The Barra grant will support Bethesda Project’s first phase of planning, which includes examination of the design’s feasibility and financial sustainability.