The Aunt Bertha Blog

Erine Gray

Recent Posts by Erine Gray:

Helping More People via LinkNYC

The team at Aunt Bertha is proud to be part of a new endeavour to make it easier for people in New York City to find the free and reduced-cost social services that they need with a presence on the LinkNYC kiosks, the world's largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network.
 
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Aunt Bertha has been an active resource for New Yorkers since we launched our free social search and referral platform in 2011. Over the past 6 years we've been happy to help tens of thousands of people in New York search for the programs that can help them.  We expanded both our capabilities and our program data for New York City and the surrounding areas through work with the Robin Hood Foundation beginning in 2014. 
 
Our new partnership with LinkNYC is a significant milestone for Aunt Bertha, as it moves us further and faster ahead in our mission to make human services information accessible to people in need, and the organizations that serve them.  People are able to use the "Help Services" feature at any of the kiosks in the city to access the Aunt Bertha program search and find programs to help with things like food, shelter, transportation, job training, legal services, and education.  
 
Access to the "Help Services" feature has been live for a little over a week now, and as we've begun to analyze the search data, we are seeing searches every few minutes, and all through the night.  We have seen people search for emergency food, addiction help, and additional support, and we hope that some have found their way to one of the many amazing NYC non-profits that are doing outstanding work.
 
You can read more about the program in The Atlantic's CityLab article: 'New York City's Wi-Fi Kiosks Now Include a 'Yelp for Social Services'
Topics: access to social services

Aunt Bertha Raises $5 Million Investment to Democratize Human Services Search and Referrals

Series B funding led by Techstars Ventures allows company to extend lead as the number one search platform for social service search, referrals and application processing.

Austin, TX, June 7, 2016 - Aunt Bertha, the social services search and referral platform, today announced a $5 million Series B round of financing led by Techstars Ventures (TSV). Jason Seats, partner at TSV will join Aunt Bertha’s board.

“There’s a lot of unnecessary suffering going on for many Americans including veterans, those with low income, and those with complicated medical conditions. Many don’t know about government or charitable programs that can help,” said Aunt Bertha CEO Erine Gray. “The growth capital will help us extend our lead as the number one search and referral platform for social services. We’ll also continue to partner with the most innovative health care organizations, community foundations and governments.”

Techstars has a long history of building successful software platforms, including investments in Uber, Twilio and Sendgrid. “After my trip to Boulder, CO to meet the Techstars team, it was clear that they were the partners we wanted to work with,” said Gray. “Our company cultures were aligned.”

AuntBertha.com, a social services search and referrals platform, is available to everybody in the United States - everywhere - from New York City to small towns like Ashland, VA. The Austin, TX based team has spent the last five years indexing the country’s health and human services programs, including those provided by charities and government agencies. AuntBertha.com is easy to use and free to the public. To date more than 207,500 people have used the platform - either to help themselves, or to help others.

“What we liked about Aunt Bertha was that they found a way to provide a valuable service to folks in need but also put together a business model to support it. We were impressed with their customer list, which includes some of the country’s most well-respected hospitals, foundations and health insurance companies.” - Jason Seats, Techstars Ventures.

The company sells a premium version of it’s platform to employers of large groups of social workers and case managers. The enterprise version makes it simple for employees of these organizations to find social services on behalf of their clients, make referrals to agencies that can help and report on activity and outcomes.

“I first met Erine and the team in 2013,” said Liz Luckett, president of The Social Entrepreneur Fund (TSEF), an investor and Aunt Bertha board member. “The team has dedicated their careers to fixing problems in health and human services and have the experience and customer insight to deliver. They’re using data and reporting to communicate public health insights that could fundamentally change how services are delivered. It’s going to be exciting to watch.”

About Aunt Bertha

Aunt Bertha is a search platform for finding and applying for social services in the United States. People in need, case managers and social workers can find and apply for government and charitable services in seconds. The company also provides enterprise tools for organizations that employ large groups of social workers. Aunt Bertha is a privately held company based in Austin, TX, founded by Erine Gray. For more information, please visit https://www.auntbertha.com.



 

Chris Dunkin Featured on Mostly Medicaid

Aunt Bertha's mission is to make human services information accessible to people and programs. Medicaid Managed Care providers across the country are using Aunt Bertha to help their clients find government and charitable programs to help areas of their members' lives unrelated to health.

The idea is simple. There are things that affect people's health that are unrelated to health. If someone can't pay their electricity bill during the summer in the south, it's not only stressful but can cause other medical problems. If someone can't find a ride, it's difficult to get to a follow-up doctor's appointment. Those in the medical field call these issues the Social Determinants of Health. The National Office of Disease and Health Prevention define the Social Determinants of Health pretty well in this article

Chris Dunkin, Aunt Bertha's VP of Sales, helps hospitals and medicaid managed care organizations address these issues using Aunt Betha's Enterprise Search Platform for Health Care. Today he was featured on Mostly Medicaid's Who's Who of the Medicaid Industry. 

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Check out the article on Mostly Medicaid here: http://mostlymedicaid.com/medicaid-industrys-series-chris-dunkin/.

Want to learn more about how Aunt Bertha helps Health Care providers? Request a demo below and we'd be happy to set up a quick chat to give you an overview.

 

Request a demo ›

 

Learning From the Best

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Hello everyone. OK, so you haven't heard from us for quite a while on this blog. There's a good reason for that. We've been quietly working hard gathering data from across the United States. 

You'll hear more about this in the coming weeks, but we are now rolled out with data in all 50 states. We have a great dataset in big cities through relationships with our customers like Robin Hood Foundation in New York City, the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC and Health Leads in Los Angeles. We've also focused our data strategy to include available services in small towns across the country, with partnerships with customers like Heartland for Children in Florida and Families ETC in Illinois

Gathering data has been a big part of what we've been working on. But we've also been learning from some of the best people out there: social workers, case managers, nurses, doctors and other professionals who dedicate their careers to helping others. We've spent time with the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University, a recent partner, this spring. Ruby, our product manager, spent the day with Serve Denton, one of our earliest customers - and drove home inspired by their work. And the whole team hung out at Caritas of Austin. Pictured above are Jeanette Sparks, Velisia Escobar and Janea Taylor getting instructions during volunteer day at Caritas. 

We're learning a lot from the folks we've been meeting with.

We're inspired by the social workers we meet who are seeing anywhere from 5-20 clients a day.

We're inspired by the director of development out there making that one extra call or email.

And we're inspired by the executive directors that are staying up late writing one more page of that long grant application. 


STAY TUNED:

We hope to share things we've learned, and some interesting data we find along the way. So go ahead and bookmark us, or better yet, subscribe to this blog --> just enter your email in the form to your right!



 

Aunt Bertha is Hiring.

We're growing and we're looking for great people to join our team. We're based in downtown Austin, TX and are looking for people who are ready to work hard, have a lot of fun and want to make a difference. 

We work in a fun environment - you'll sometimes see dogs running around the office - and we're looking for a few idealists to help us to continue our mission to make human services information accessible to people and programs. 

Right now, we have three open positions:

A few things about us:

We have competitive pay, free breakfast and lunch at the office, company paid short and long-term disability insurance, company paid life insurance, a $300 per month health insurance stipend, unlimited vacation policy and a chance to make a big dent into a hard problem. 

 

 

Topics: jobs company culture

Watch out, Mrs. Claus. Better keep an eye on Santa.

Happy Holidays!

May you have a great time with the people you love this holiday season (even the crazy ones). 

New Feature: Ratings & Reviews

From time to time people suggest new features to add to Aunt Bertha's program search (and we love it when this happens!). One feature that is suggested quite a bit is the ability to leave ratings and reviews of program listings.

We carefully considered this feature. We asked the opinions of seekers, executive directors and foundations and came to the conclusion that we thought this was a good thing to do. With an abundance of human services in the United States, we figured that there ought to be a way for the good ones to get some recognition. We also figured there ought to be a way for program managers to update the public on things they should be aware of when applying - in a more dynamic way.

This feature is now live. Check it out. Here's a screenshot below: 

We realize that people may leave a bad review about a program from time to time. Even though each program is well-meaning, we think on average this feedback will help programs be more responsive to the needs of the community. Most of the folks we've been talking to agree.

Try it out, and if you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, comments, or suggestions - just email us at support at auntbertha.com. We'll get right back to you!

A Year to Remember

2012 was a crazy year. A good year. A great year.

Yesterday, our team had a little holiday party. We did some race-car driving. There was an incident. It involved a fast car, a pole, and a grin on Carly's face. I'm okay, but I can't look to my left just yet.


That's our Austin team. We couldn't be more excited to have recently added +Stu Scruggs to manage all data issues. He's our CIO in the truest sense (although we don't like titles). He brings a wealth of data analysis experience, non-profit experience, jokes (most of them good), but more importantly experience solving what +Unreasonable At Sea founder +Daniel Epstein refers to as BFP's (Big F*%'n Problems).

That's what we're trying to do here, solve BFP's. And I think, with +Carly Levy+Shea Sulkin and +Stu Scruggs's hard work we're going to make a big dent in making human service information accessible to people in need in 2013.

While at lunch, I was asked what our biggest accomplishments were this year. That's a hard question, primarily because I don't remember this year. It seemed each week flew by faster and faster. Here are a few highlights, though:

Aunt Bertha's Program Search was launched in every zip code in Texas.
If you're ever in need in Texas, you can find out, in a few seconds where the closest food pantry is, whether or not it's open, and even if your kids qualify for the Children's Health Insurance program.

We launched the Open Eligibility Project.
We learned a lot this year about how we organize human service programs. There's many complicated relationships between program types, provider names, coverage areas, office locations and eligibility rules. We get that. And we're going to share it.

The Open Eligibility Project is an open framework for classifying human service programs, organizing data models and eligibility rules. We want you to be involved because we think it's a pretty big deal and an important first step to organizing the world's human service information. +Carly Levy worked her butt off on this project and continues to do an amazing job with it. Come join the Open Eligibility Project on Google+.

We stood on the shoulders of giants.
Aunt Bertha was accepted (and still offices at) the Austin Technology Incubator in January. We're proud to be a part of what has become an Austin establishment. It's a collective between the City of Austin, the State of Texas and the University of Texas.

Aunt Bertha was also selected to be one of seven startups as part of  Code for America's Accelerator Program. We won a $25,000 grant and we spent time with people like +Tim O'Reilly , +Jennifer Pahlka , +Ron Bouganim and other brilliant minds. We came away with some great ideas, some great contacts but most importantly a clear picture of what we needed to focus on. We know what parade we want to get in front of, thanks +Tim O'Reilly. Most importantly, it's about execution now, thanks +Ron Bouganim.

And finally, I had the true honor of going to this year's Unreasonable Institute where I spent six weeks in Boulder, CO with some amazing people like Sheikh TurayJamila AbassRobyn Scott and Shalabh Aruja. Imagine living in house with 21 of the most inspiring people you'll ever meet. We worked incredibly hard. I know we're going to be friends for life and I can't wait to see what the Unreasonable Class of 2012 goes and does. It was pretty much one of the best experiences of my life so far. And I hope that someday I can go back and be a mentor. A big congratulations to +Daniel Epstein , +Cesar Gonzalez , +Teju Ravilochan and +Tyler Hartung. What they have been able to accomplish in just three short years is something short of a miracle. Books will be written about these four, I promise you.

Here's my final pitch at the Unreasonable Climax:

 
Unreasonable Climax 2012: Erine Gray - Aunt Bertha from Unreasonable Institute on Vimeo.

We launched a new product: Application Processing.
We launched Application Processing: a simple way to accept applications online. People looking for help shouldn't have to worry about chasing down a fax machine in order to get help. That's why some great organizations are now giving people a modern way of applying online through our platform+Shea Sulkin and +Carly Levy did an amazing job designing such a beautiful user experience.


What's next?
We know that we've only made a tiny dent. We believe we can do more. It's what motivates us when our eyes are so tired we can't see straight, but we persist anyway even though it's 3AM.

A great boss I once had said:
"The more people that own something, the harder it is to kill." 
That's why we're so excited about efforts like Markets for Good. We need serious conversations that include disrupters, established players and most importantly, the people we're trying to help. We're tackling a big problem, but it starts with a few people ready to rustle things up.

Here's one of my favorites:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. "
by Margaret Mead
Would you like to be part of this small group of thoughtful, committed citizens? Join our Google+ Community today: Aunt Bertha's Entourage. We need you to be involved. We need your ideas. We need your passion.

I'm optimistic.

Let's have an amazing 2013, everyone.

Spotlight: Skillpoint Alliance (Part 2)

At Aunt Bertha our mission is to make human service information accessible to people and programs. Along the way we learn about people doing awesome things. The first organization we are featuring as part of this series is Austin's Skillpoint Alliance.

About the Author:
Rachel Nitschke has served as the Communications Coordinator for Skillpoint Alliance since July 2012. She graduated in May with a degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin with the hope of pursuing a career in fundraising and communications for an organization that makes a true impact in the community. She is so happy to have found that in Austin at Skillpoint Alliance. Her heroes are her siblings-- Ryan, Tommy and Molly-- whose support and friendship make every day worthwhile.

The Gateway Program
For 18 years, Skillpoint Alliance’s Gateway program has successfully provided employment skills training for Central Texans with 84% of Gateway graduates obtaining employment. At an average cost of $2,900 per participant, our results are unmatched in training and cost effectiveness. Gateway is designed as a rapid training, four- to -ten week program intended for participants to earn an industry-recognized certification and gain an entry-level, sustainable occupation. Through a traditional matriculation program these trainings would normally take 9 months to a year and a  half to complete and instead are completed in 4-10 weeks. The program is treated as a full time job, Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm to mirror the work environment and prepare trainees for success on the job. In addition to the intense nature of the program and industry-recognized certifications each Gateway program includes in-depth employment readiness, hands-on practice, job specific skills training, and a powerful graduation experience. 

By listening to industry partners Gateway trainings are identified and modified to meet the need and demand of today’s businesses. Currently, Skillpoint’s Gateway Programs offer 8 disciplines: Construction, Electrical, Plumbing, HV/AC, Certified Nurse Aide, Certified Medication Aide, Office Administration, and the Juvenile Culinary program. As industries evolve and economic needs change, Gateway modifies, deletes, or adds new trainings. 

The Gateway program is not for every client - it is a rigorous program that is aimed at preparing individuals for employment. That said, in 2012, of the 90% of trainees that graduated from the Gateway program, 84% of them found relevant employment within 30-45 days. The Gateway program works! Gateway is able to serve up to 250-300 individuals with current funding, so space is limited. In fact, Gateway is only able to accept approximately 19% of all applicants. To get your client involved and employed, you'll first need to direct them to complete an application which can be found at any of the Workforce Solutions offices in Austin, Round Rock, Bastrop and San Marcos or on our website. Once the applications are received, each applicant is invited to an assessment and depending on their results an interview. All the while their commitment, communication, and prioritization skills are all being evaluated. When a candidate is accepted into the program they will then attend an enrollment meeting and then the training begins. Case managers are highly encouraged to be involved in the process and definitely welcome to the graduation ceremony. For more information, check out this video of trainees discussing their experience in the Gateway program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtNMMupizvs.

Spotlight: Skillpoint Alliance

At Aunt Bertha our mission is to make human service information accessible to people and programs. Along the way we learn about people doing awesome things. The first organization we are featuring as part of this series is Austin's Skillpoint Alliance.

About the Author:
Rachel Nitschke has served as the Communications Coordinator for Skillpoint Alliance since July 2012. She graduated in May with a degree in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin with the hope of pursuing a career in fundraising and communications for an organization that makes a true impact in the community. She is so happy to have found that in Austin at Skillpoint Alliance. Her heroes are her siblings-- Ryan, Tommy and Molly-- whose support and friendship make every day worthwhile.

The Empower Computer Literacy Program

Empower. That’s the name of our program because that’s what we try to do with every client. Whether it is empowering them with how to write a resume that stands out from the pack during Professional Development Week or mastering the art of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, we provide our clients with the knowledge and skills they need for today’s job market. Classes cover everything a citizen needs to know to become computer literate: email, internet, document creation, Microsoft Office products and so much more. If you find yourself uncomfortable or unsure around computers and technology, you’re not alone. Since 1999, we have helped more than 5,300 Central Texans join the ranks of digitally fluent and computer literate. In 2013, thanks to our partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, we will be holding classes at the Georgian Manor Housing Community, as well as Travis High School, and our downtown location. The mobile learning center will spend some time in North Austin near Dobie middle school for the first quarter of the new year. To enroll in class, please call us at 512-323-6773, or email us at empower@skillpointalliance.org, and we will sign you up for the next available orientation.