Realizing Every Community Asset Foundation (RECA) / Rainier VISTA
The RECA Foundation has been working to meet the technology needs of the greater Tri-Cities area community since 1992. It has helped to establish over 10 technology centers, built and run The Columbia Free-Net, provided refurbished computer equipment to low income families, and helped to build the technology capacity of our local non-profit organizations.
To use technology in building partnerships with other regional organizations in order to enhance public dialogue about regional issues. Provide access to social and human services resources, consolidate and coordinate those resources in an online environment, and provide information technology support to low income families and other non-profits. The RECA Foundation was the first in the area to offer free e-mail for individuals and free web hosting for other non-profits (Web Hosting). The Foundation started the Columbia Basin Public Information Network (CBPIN.org) in 1994 as a collaborative network of public, private, and government organizations. 2004 – regional management of the www.4people.org Information & Referral database, and an extensive Case Management system.
Community Resource Database Development
In January 2004, RECA undertook the organization, management and maintenance of the on-line database 4People.org for Benton and Franklin counties. 4People uses VisionLink’s Tapestry online software, to post community services, calendars, and volunteer information in 19 rural counties in eastern Washington. They have successfully identified over 4,500 services in this rural area and placed them online for the public to get help when needed.
Current agencies are using the case management system to reduce the number of homeless, reduce the number of uninsured, and coordinate and maximize services between faith based organizations in 19 counties in eastern Washington. This same VisionLink software is being used to case manage over 100,000 Katrina evacuees, and is HIPAA and HMIS compliant.
A CTC VISTA will contribute to these programs in the following ways:
I. TCFN (The Columbia Free-Net) Web Developer: Develop mini web pages for non-profits and commercial entities through-out eastern Washington and link to the 4People on-line database of resources in each of the 19 counties.
II. 4People.org Online Database Developer: Develop a promotional plan to increase the usage of this resource database. Increase the number of agencies using the Case Management module to effectively communicate community client needs.
1. Develop competency in the Tapestry/VisionLink Resource and Case Management database in order to provide support and training to agencies.
2. Develop community relations to promote 4People and RECA Foundation programs.
3. Identify and mobilize agencies in eastern Washington to use the 4People database.
4. Work with Columbia Basin College to develop a comprehensive public relations campaign for both 4People and RECA Foundation.
5. Develop a comprehensive online manual for agencies to use 4People.
6. Maintain accurate records and provide required reports for program accountability purposes.
7. Create newsletters and promotional materials.
8. Assist with writing grants.
Marilyn Taylor is responsible for developing a comprehensive grassroots database of resources in each county in Washington State. She has successfully updated quick County listings, printable directories, Shelter Vacancies, Reentry Resources and Housing Inventories. Marilyn Taylor has also worked with a number of agencies training them on the case management system, and has compiled database reports using Crystal Reports.
The re-design of 4People in 2007 resulted in increased views of services and has subsequently reduced homelessness, reduced recidivism, and helped people out of poverty. Over 314,000 views of resources were recorded in 2007. She has updated websites to increase Googleability. She has staffed booths for 4People at fairs and conferences, promoted the use of the database, and consistently provided accurate and timely information to help people out of poverty. Marilyn has assisted with numerous grants, and assisted volunteers, Goodwill and AARP workers with accurate updating of information. 4People has increased coverage of Information and Referral resources from 19 counties to all 39 Washington State counties.
“We get emails from people, or even a phone call thanking us for providing information online quickly. Only on 4People can people that are homeless find the resources they need. Marilyn has been directly responsible for the upkeep, development, and accuracy of all information. She has provided reports showing activities and demographics, and worked one on one to help people use the case management system. She has been indispensable to 4People.”
- Ronda Evans, supervisor
4People Database Building
Misty’s primary responsibilities were maintaining and expanding the 4People database, which provides information and directories about available social services available within Washington State.
Misty was instrumental in developing community resources for every county in Washington State from the grassroots up. She has been instrumental in designing the website in order to better organize resources and make them available to our states residents. Misty single handedly developed the quick, one click away to community resources for each county. By July over 43,000 views of needed services were logged on the website, making it the number one resource listings provided to help people. Misty was also very helpful in marketing the website and making sure individuals were aware of the database. She helped design informational brochures and distributed them to state organizations to give out. Lastly Misty was very successful in collecting and distributing valuable resources, of note was a dozen laptops which she not only acquired, but setup up for our programs, increasing the number of people we can help.
Marketing and Outreach
Diana has posted over 1,200 services on 4People.org and has been instrumental in helping the database to grow and advance. She has also designed marketing materials, learned to build computers, trained people on computers, written documents, designed web pages, and done lots of editing. With her help, RECA and 4People are advancing at an amazing pace.
At the six month level Diana has completed a great deal of work towards populating the 4people.org database, which includes youth, seniors and family community services. She has developed a web page for another non-profit (Catholic Family and Child Services), and taught a class on beginning web page design. By posting services to 4People and continually improving the database, Diana is helping our online database become a viable community resource. We currently have over 4,300 services listed in Eastern Washington, largely thanks to her efforts and the efforts of the VISTA that preceded her. Diana has been instrumental in helping to design the front end interface of 4People to be first time user friendly. See 4people.tcfn.org.
CTC Program Building and Support
In addition to maintaining regular support to existing volunteers at the center, Mary met with existing partners to discuss potential additional programs:
• Project Farewell, University Presbyterian Church - G.E.D. program
• Inside/Outside Children’s Museum Art Program, Youth Web Design
• Arranged tax assistance dates with Tax Aides (formerly VITA) and Deloitte and Touche in February and early March; began advertising those dates in the community
• Family Literacy program, offered in partnership with REWA, two nights a week 4-6 participants per evening.
• Employment assistance offered by Neighborhood House employment specialists two afternoons a week.
• Intermediate ESL program, offered in partnership with the Seattle Literacy Council, two nights a week. Many participants are working with the goal of entering the G.E.D. class we are hoping to offer in early April.
• Talked with Student Nursing program to about creating a health related resource on RVLT website.
• Discussed RV Peace Pole project with Keesha Morris – explored funding opportunities for the project
• Researched available job resources for teens in preparation for a preliminary conversation on creating a youth employment services program at RV. Scheduled initial meeting for early March with Jobs Plus, RVLT, Boys and Girls Club, Youth Tutoring program, and Neighborhood House.
Held 2 tax nights with volunteers from Deloitte and Touche and 2 tax Saturdays with a volunteer from Tax Aide. All efforts were very successful! – 35 income tax returns were prepared for Rainier Vista residents. One additional tax day will be held on March 1.
Job Referral program and ESL courses continued in February. Both programs saw “slow and steady” upwards acceptance and attendance levels from the community. The ESL course expanded beyond its initial limit of 7 students, so a second teacher from the Seattle Literacy Council comes in during the same time to teach the additional students.
Due to limited resources, the sustainability plan for the CTC is to partner with agencies providing services needed by residents through agreements to provide facilities in exchange for those services. This is also meant to address resident concern about loss of funding for the employment program which included job search, job retention and wage progression activities.
In addition to all of this, Mary is creating the volunteer manual, which will include information on:
• the basic care and maintenance of the computers
• center rules
• typical skills and help requested of volunteers
America Connects Consortium Data Collection Curriculum project:
Mary has utilized her web and research expertise to identify and assess free online databases and tracking software for use in CTCs. Also through her need to assess data requirements under a new service delivery plan, she has acted as a wonderful model for coordinator concerns about data collection requirements for sustainability.
Fundraising: researched Fremont Public Association AmeriCorps VISTA grant and submitted the segments of the grant which she was able to complete to RVLT for approval and decision making needed to complete the grant. Because of an overload of work due to the change in leadership, RVLT decided this was not a priority. Mary is continuing to research additional grants for software and lab funding.
a. Increase the number of recycled computers available to low-income families and individuals with an emphasis on kids and adults with disabilities.
b. Provide full time, on-call computer technology support to non-profit CBPIN (Columbia Basin Public Information Network) members.
c. Develop hardware and software programs that directly support the RECA Foundation’s mission.
• Only a few computers were recycled to low-income families and individuals because that effort was given a low priority until early 2003.
• Adam assisted in the detailed technology assessment of the ARC of the Tri-Cities facility. This involved assessment of a network of about 20 computers and subsequent repair/upgrades. He also helped sort and refurbish about 30 donated computers, making them ready for eventual home placement.
• Adam wrote, edited and revised a grant request to Verizon for a portable teaching computer lab. Verizon responded with $9,000 in funding. The portable lab (4 laptop computers, network, and SVGA projector) is now operational. Additionally, the RECA Foundation is now a Verizon e-partner and has started providing technology classes to non-profit agencies in the area.
• Adam wrote, edited and revised a $20,000 “Progressive Technology” grant application to America Connects Consortium. This project will provide for the development of a standard Linux based computer that can be replicated by other CTCNet members all over the U.S.
• Adam’s major focus was on completely redesigning the CBPIN.ORG web site (http://www.cbpin.org/). Most of the development work was completed. The work needs to be finalized and a new CBPIN server put in place.
Adam came to us proclaiming himself as “low-maintenance”. He was. He was independent, self-starting, and worked well with everyone involved with our projects and programs.