Innovations Grant Request for an Online Portal Connecting Human Services Programs in Cambridge
An online portal has been proposed for the Cambridge Innovations Challenge Grant in order to better connect the Cambridge community to the multitude of offered programs. The proposed project will offer solutions to several different problems in the Cambridge community pertaining to the lack of unified information about services available. There no database or simple method of finding programs (specifically out-of-school or human services opportunities) for the population of Cambridge who need them or communicating among the service providers. The lack of such a system has made the applications processes repetitive and complicated which, in turn, decreases the capacity of residents to apply. Additionally, there is no way of ensuring that the information found is current, meaning that applicants do not know much about the functioning or success of the programs. In general there is a lack of information available to all groups involved, impeding collaboration in the sector and participation among the community. An online portal will therefore unify these service providers to solve many of the subsequent issues.
The online portal will serve as a database with information about all of the out-of-school and human services opportunities in Cambridge, with easy search tools to help users find programs that they are eligible for in their area. The programs can be run by nonprofits, governmental bodies, or external service providers. Applicants will be able to stay up to date on the projects, with information time-stamped with when it was last updated, and access information on many different programs in the same online location. They can also review the programs online to give other applicants more information. The portal will also give service providers a chance to showcase their programs and easily evaluate applicants through a single system. Through the online portal, the outstanding programs that already exist in Cambridge will be more accessible to the population and, as a result, will allow for their success and facilitation of the understanding of what needs are and are not being met.
This project is long-term, and will require funding for its development and upkeep. The process thus far, however, has allowed the identification of the issue and its pressing nature through comprehensive workshops with city representatives, service providers and residents. It is clear that there is a need to continually gather and integrate data and creating an open data portal is an important step in meeting this end. There will be innumerable benefits for the citizens of Cambridge and the service it provides will be paramount in developing the human services and nonprofits sectors that are needed unite and enrich the community.