Finally, there is an online one-stop-shop for human services around the country. Now people who are looking for services ranging from health care support services to food pantries to care for disabled children can type in their zip code and find a range of services in their area within seconds. If finding movie times online is as simple as typing in their zip code, why shouldn't something as important as finding human services be as easy?
Erine Gray is the founder of this resource, www.AuntBertha.com. He spoke on the DorobekINSIDER about how his start-up is taking off and how it is quickly becoming a "marketplace for human services."
Ernie Gray's Story:
Gray's early career as a programmer gave him the technical foundation he needed to make this service marketplace a reality. When his mother became disabled with encephalitis, he became her legal guardian and struggled to help his mother navigate the fragmented human service system. He went on to study public policy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and is now applying his technology background to his policy education to make human services accessible to those in need.
Recipe for Success
The quick success of AuntBertha is in part due to Code for America's "Accelerator" program, which selected AuntBertha to be one of seven startups to receive a grant and coaching. For four months, the AuntBertha team went to San Francisco once a week to be trained and to work on solidifying a business plan. Aside from the Code for America training, Gray also cited that conversations with government employees were useful for them to figure out where the needs are how they can best address them.
Vision for the Future
Gray is now working on OpenEligibility.org, which he calls a “collaborative place where people can look at the way we classify programs.” The intention here is to identify where the "real-time supply" is and compare it to "real-time demand." This site will uncover where there are geographic gaps in services so that they will hopefully be filled by new providers or the government.