Need: Children, families and adults that lack social and familial resources, or who experience unique challenges, often rely on the services of community organizations to assist them in improving their lives. For these individuals, access to information about community services is critical and sometimes life changing. Yet, finding this information is often fraught with difficulties, leaving those who could be offered help with nowhere to turn; or even worse, with inaccurate information that leaves them discouraged from future help seeking.
|Status of the proposal|
|Reason||No supporters other than proposer in 6 and a half years. * Pppery * has returned 19:58, 3 June 2019 (UTC)|
As community organizations are independently administered, there are few central sources of information about the types of community services available, who they serve, where they are, when they can be accessed and what they cost. Community resource directories exist in different forms in different places, but there is no coordination of this information across regional lines. Many of these directories are still printed in hard copies because non-profits do not have the resources to create a useful, web-based database. Printed directories are not only costly, they are out of date soon after being printed and cannot be searched or shared easily. As a result, consumers are often the least able to access information that can be helpful to them.
Of the web-based resource directories that do exist, they are generally managed at significant cost by a local organization or municipality which collects the information for a particular region. As a result, the information is only available for specific regions that have the capability to create and manage these databases and requires substantial resources to sustain.
Concept: The proposed project will create a national—or perhaps even global—wiki-style directory of community services that will be self-managed by the non-profits that provide these services (CBO’s, schools, churches, etc.). The wiki will be free of charge, accessible through the web and will list the programs and services these organizations provide in an easy to read, up-to-date format. The wiki will be searchable by numerous parameters such as the type of service, location, service category, host organization, eligibility requirements, etc. to make it as user-friendly as possible.
While this type of wiki will allow consumers to have easy and direct access to current information, it will also be a useful tool for social workers, counselors and other community professionals to identify services for clients they are working with. By having the information easily accessible, community professionals can spend more of their time helping and less time sorting through outdated directories, emails and paper files. By having the information directly accessible to consumers, fewer community professionals will be needed to provide this basic task.
The proposed wiki would rest on the contributions of the organizations that provide the services. The host organization would fill out a brief page to describe each program or service it offers. The page would require annual updating in order to remain active. As word about the wiki spreads through the non-profit community, organizations will feel increasingly compelled to list their services, just as they are compelled these days to have a website. The wiki though would not replace the need for a website and would not primarily be a non-profit directory. Although information about the non-profits would be available through the wiki, the primary purpose is to be a large and robust directory of programs and services offered by these organizations.
Potential Costs: Once the technology is developed to host the wiki, the only expenses would be to monitor and maintain the wiki. While some quality control mechanisms would need to be put in place—for example, requiring that all organizations with rights to post to the wiki have non-profit status—little ongoing monitoring would be necessary as there would be no incentive to provide deceptive information. In addition, since some regions—such as Alameda County—have well developed online resource directories, this technology could be used to reduce costs for the wiki’s development.
The importance of this wiki would be evident to those involved in funding community organizations that provide these services. Because this wiki would help leverage the initiatives these funders support— and because of the project’s national scope—it is likely to capture the interest of large, national human services funders. Over time, it may be possible to sustain the wiki through very small contributions from the hundreds of thousands of community organizations that use it.
There are few organizations that have the size, scope and credibility to pull such a project off without great expense. However, because the Wikimedia Foundation has had great success with similar projects, they are well poised to help facilitate the creation of this wiki at nominal cost.
Lawrence Shweky has over 20 years of experience as a counselor, educator and administrator focused on the needs of children and youth. He has worked in the fields of education, social services and youth development in New York, San Francisco and Sacramento. For the past 7 years, Lawrence has been with the Sacramento City Unified School District, where he is responsible for coordinating and implementing a broad array of learning support services and providing leadership at the district level in the areas of mental health, bullying prevention, and social and emotional learning. Prior to this, Lawrence served as the clinical director for Huckleberry Youth Programs in San Francisco, the nation’s first homeless and runaway youth shelter. Lawrence was also involved in the early start-up and management of community schools, including Beacon Centers in New York City and San Francisco. Lawrence has a Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and a Master’s in Education from San Francisco State University with a focus on Integrated and Collaborative Services.
• WikiService • WikiConnect • WikiLink • WikiResource • WikiSupport