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 Turay, Jamila Abass, Robyn 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.
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 MeadWould 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.
Let's have an amazing 2013, everyone.