When Alluma created the first public benefits application with an online signature in 1999, we were safety net pioneers in a much simpler time. Flip phones, physical bookstores, and paper applications were the norm.
Despite vast technological advancement over the last two decades, the social service sector lags behind. Billions of dollars in public benefits go unused every year while families and individuals in need struggle to get the support they deserve.
Unlike Prime 2-day shipping, a seamless and dignified social safety net is still a distant dream. Even though we have comparable technologies in the commercial sector, and progressive policies in place, we’re still lacking the will and incentives to innovate the safety net.
For-profits addressing the safety net, which are increasingly saturating the sector, are beholden to profit over people. This greatly disincentivizes them from building in partnership with community members, collaborating with other organizations in the sector, prioritizing race, gender and class equity and questioning the system itself. Our governmental systems similarly lack the pressure to innovate and invest in modern technology as the sole provider of benefit programs.
Recently, however, I’ve been seeing bright spots: more philanthropies are joining the call to innovate the safety net. One of our collaborators, Stupski Foundation, is a great example. They are supporting Alluma’s equity work and have been a strong supporter of One Degree since 2016 – deep gratitude Stupski!
And we’re going to need a lot more funding for nonprofits in this space to provide a community-driven, equity-centered, and not-for-profit perspective. Otherwise, we’ll continue to tinker at the margins.
That’s why I’m excited about Alluma’s focus on building an equity-centered community resource system through our core program, One Degree. In the coming months, you’ll hear more about how our One Degree program prioritizes our community as we implement new concepts of community governance, ownership, and power-sharing.
I invite you to learn more about the One Degree program and how it can make a difference for your communities. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out one of my recent talks with Health Leads.
Thanks for partnering and thinking with us about how to make the safety net work better for people who need it the most.