The Mile High Network of Help

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The Aunt Bertha network covers the entire state of Colorado. From the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains, we are here to help. Our users and prospective customers are always interested in the strength of our network and ask us to demonstrate that frequently. Our customers choose Aunt Bertha over others because we have an engaged network that’s already in place on day one. 

Because we are continually asked about our network, we decided to start publishing our network statistics monthly. In this interactive map, you can drill into any county in Colorado to learn more about the types of programs available on a county-by-county basis. Today, we have over 5,000 programs listed in our Colorado network – that’s over 1,500 free or reduced cost programs in every county in Colorado. More, there are 2,308 participating program locations in our Colorado network — that number grows each month. This means more than 2,000 nonprofit program locations have chosen Aunt Bertha to help meet their communities’ needs. 

In addition to a county-by-county breakdown, you can also view metropolitan statistical areas. Human beings and the referrals you make for them don’t stop at regional borders — and neither do we. Our nationwide network provides continuity across metros, counties, and states, a critical feature if the population you serve is mobile. 

We’re dedicated to growing our network across America. We have a Data Operations team of 60 full-time employees— the largest department within Aunt Bertha— dedicated to researching information, entering new programs, and responding to changes across the country. This team shapes the user experience through the programs they vet, the information they distill, and the logical organization of services they tag. It would be far easier and cheaper for us to only rely on technology. Instead, we’ve taken the harder path to build a team made up of humans — not robots — because this is the only way to ensure people get the help they need, simply and quickly.

Our traction in Colorado

Aunt Bertha is the largest free and open network in Colorado. We believe it’s important to keep our library of help accessible to everyone in need. Since the platform is open to all, we have the largest set of data to provide valuable insight into which communities need help and when. We regularly analyze user activity across our network to get a sense of who is falling behind and why. In Colorado, we’ve seen more than 140,000 users so far. 

The pandemic in Colorado

COVID-19 continues to heighten the socio-economic needs of Coloradans. We believe everyone needs a helping hand at some point — over the last 4 months, we’ve seen this unfold on a massive scale. The rising number of people tapping into their local safety nets has spurred thousands of nonprofits, charities, and other social care providers to come to the aid of those affected by the pandemic. 

Our platform, which connects people to social services in their area, saw more than 2,500 searches per week from Coloradans since mid-March — a 42% increase from pre-COVID times. Searches for “food,” “money,” and “housing” spiked during the pandemic.

In response to the increase in needs we were seeing, our team added more than 2,500 new programs related to COVID-19 to our platform — while simultaneously  launching, a place where people impacted by the pandemic can find relief. Our Data Operations team has been working tirelessly to identify changes in nonprofit program listings, services, hours, and contact information to ensure that our listings reflect the most up-to-date information.

Proactive Intervention, Aunt Bertha’s Social Care Index

As part of our Seekers First principle, we research the social care needs of the country and Colorado is no exception. The Social Care Index project aims to identify highly vulnerable areas that lack access to critical social services. Combining the Center for Disease Control’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and Aunt Bertha’s program location data, we created an interactive dashboard allowing users to view specific data regarding vulnerability and need, in conjunction with program office locations, filterable by service type. The image below shows how the tool is being used to identify programs southwest of Denver, a region with high concentrations of vulnerable populations. The background map displays the SVI by census tract, with darker tracts signifying higher social vulnerability, and each colored dot represents a program office location.

We’re excited about this tool because it can help us identify areas where resources are most needed, discover organizations that are doing some of the most critical work, and assist in more effectively targeting interventions. Our mission and valuable insights like this are why customers choose to work with us, time and again.

Our Colorado Social Care Network

Tents line the block at the corner of 25th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver, Colorado, the day before a planned removal effort that would clear any belongings left on the sidewalk, as part of the city’s camping ban enforcement. [Photo by Kelly West/Resolve Magazine]

Over the years, we’ve also worked to grow our social care network by directly engaging with Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in Colorado. These bridge-building efforts have been with CBOs that are addressing a wide range of important issues — from food access to housing insecurity, financial assistance to health insurance literacy. 

Our network in Colorado is made up of nearly 5,000 programs. These programs include those of large, complex organizations like the Denver Housing Authority, and smaller ( equally dedicated) programs like Sense of Security, a nonprofit that provides financial support to breast cancer patients in treatment.

The COVID-19 crisis has made considerable changes to the world of social services. While the need for assistance has grown, so too have the challenges for how organizations and their staff meet these needs in a safe, socially-distanced manner. Programs are responding through innovative solutions such as drive-thru food pantries and virtual case management appointments.

Our public, open network is well-positioned to track and update information on how these programs are quickly changing. CBOs that have “claimed” their listing on our site (a free, two-minute process) have the ability to update their program information in real-time. Over 2,300 CBOs have claimed their listing in Colorado and are active participants in the Aunt Bertha network.

Claimed program providers also have the option of setting up any of our free intake tools to streamline the process of connecting with new clients. The use of our one-step referrals, eligibility screener, or appointment scheduler workflow allows program staff to spend less time qualifying people and more time helping them. By partnering with nonprofits and supporting their use of our free digital intake and reporting tools, we help connect more Coloradans to the best available program to meet their needs — all with a focus on dignity and ease. 

Connecting with Coloradans who serve

Volunteer Inez Garcia organizes bags of groceries during a weekly food distribution organized by Adelante Jeffco and their partner organizations.[Photo by Kelly West/Resolve Magazine]

At Aunt Bertha, we are driven by our mission and we take the time to speak with Coloradans who make a difference. Resolve Magazine, a storytelling initiative funded by Aunt Bertha, recently published this story from Denver profiling Janet Matzen, a homeless activist who, for the past eight years, has been cooking weekly meals for dozens of unhoused Denver residents downtown. Each Sunday, Janet and her crew set up tables on the 16th Street Mall to serve hot meals and check in with people living on the streets nearby. Janet also does this work to bring attention to the city’s urban camping ban, which displaces homeless residents for setting up tents or using blankets to cover themselves. “She has transformed people’s beliefs in the process and the system and humanity,” says one of Janet’s volunteers. 

Janet Matzen stands behind the final table in the serving line, chatting with people as they make their way to sit down and eat on the mall outdoors. [Photo by Kelly West/Resolve Magazine]

Where Coloradans are searching for assistance

Our users are searching across all 64 counties in Colorado — in big cities and small towns alike. While high search density can be seen in metros like Denver, there is consistent coverage across the entire state, including rural areas like Grand Junction and Pueblo.

Heat map displaying where and how many searches are being performed on Aunt Bertha across Colorado.

What are Coloradans searching for? 

Housing and health are the most sought-after services by our users in Colorado, followed closely by food. The chart below breaks down the top social needs of Colorado, based on Aunt Bertha search data.

Click this graph to investigate our publicly accessible data.

Beyond search: Connections & Responses

Our platform also supports connections — when someone in need and a program that can serve that person come together because of our platform, even though they never made an official referral. This is a good thing! A connection goes beyond a search — it means the person in need is finding help and reaching out on their own time. Examples include emails to family members, texts from friends, and responses by CBOs. 

We make it easy to connect to help with or without a social care referral!

We expect connections to continue growing as our network expands in Colorado. On our platform, three entities can update the status, or “close the loop” on referrals: an employee of the organization that made the outbound referral, an employee of the organization that receives the referral, and the person being referred. We’ve seen significant growth in the number of “closed-loop” referrals as more of our users update completion of services on Aunt Bertha.

Who are our users?

Our users are people in need, workers at nonprofits and government agencies, and employees of our customer partners who serve Coloradans, like Connect for Health Colorado, OnwardCO, Colorado Workforce Development Council (TalentFOUND), Children’s Hospital Colorado, UCHealth, and many more.

Successful Partnerships in Colorado

Our customers choose our network because of tools and analytics that empower patients and community members to find help. They also choose us because of our network-strengthening expertise, social care data set (provided by the free and open network), proven best practices, and our committed partnership. Through these mission-driven partnerships, our customers are making a huge difference across the state of Colorado. 

We are proud to partner with Colorado Community Managed Care Network (CCMCN) on their framework for an interoperable Social Health Information Exchange (S-HIE) in Colorado. CCMCN provides services that enable their member community health centers and related community partners to succeed as efficient, effective, and accountable systems of care — and Aunt Bertha powers their social care network and tools. We integrate directly into the workflows of staff at CCMCN’s member community health centers. Their staff use our resource library, referral tools, and social care needs assessments to connect patients to help in their communities. We think CCMCN has the right framework, footprint, and insights to make a difference in the social care of all of Colorado.

Not only do we power the social care network for CCMCN, but we are able to provide aggregate search data so they can make informed decisions about their services and programs. Our data provides insight into where Coloradans are searching for services, what services they’re searching for, and whether or not they were able to connect with organizations that can help (among so much else). To assist communities in making the right decisions, we make our network information public on our website

In another customer example, The LAUNCH together initiative in Jefferson County uses Aunt Bertha to equip their early childhood navigator team with the tools they need to connect families with young children to programs and social care resources in their area. The navigator meets with families and identifies their needs using a custom social care needs assessment in Aunt Bertha. This assessment automatically suggests resources to the navigator and family based on their identified need and eligibility using curated lists featuring local partners. Families can also search privately on their own, without filling out a form or logging in. Just by entering a ZIP Code on the Jeffco Families Colorado website, users have access to the library of help available to them.

We’re honored to work with such a wonderful cohort of customers focused on getting Coloradans back to work. Here are just a few of the many initiatives happening around the state:

  • TalentFound, powered by Aunt Bertha, in partnership with the Colorado Workforce Development Council, provides a custom experience tailored to help job seekers and students find everything they need for a successful career. 
  • Colorado Resource (CORE) Partners created WORKNOW, a construction employment platform offering job training, coaching, and employment support. We partner with CORE to provide a social care resource network for Colorado workers and their families to find social care programs, and related work readiness resources. 
  • Onward Colorado is a part of a national organization (OnwardUS) that partners with state governments to be a one-stop resource for those displaced by COVID-19 — we power the library of helpful programs that are linked directly within their site. 

Our team in Colorado (and beyond) serves as a thought partner. Based on our expertise, past success, and outcomes we’ve achieved, we are uniquely positioned to share an informed point of view. We fuel you with the strategies and information you need to be leaders in the social care connections of your communities.

By the way, who’s Aunt Bertha?

Our company was founded in 2010, and soon became the most widely adopted search and referral network for finding and connecting to social services in the United States. The company’s name was inspired by our founder’s mother, who often helped people in need and took in teenagers who didn’t have a place to stay. In that spirit, the name is a tribute to family members helping other family members during challenging times. As of this writing, we have helped over 4 million users on our platform in all 50 states. If you’re curious about our user growth and where our users come from, take a look:

We didn’t become a nationwide network overnight. We never really advertised or went viral, so people discovered through word of mouth and through our customers who licensed the platform and joined our Social Care Network

With a large user base, we became more and more curious about how people search. And we found that it isn’t always the person in need searching for services in their own neighborhoods. Often, it’s friends helping friends, adult children helping their aging parents, or professional social workers helping their clients. We’ve noticed that when people are helping others, state lines don’t seem to matter.

Yelp, Indeed, and Google all transformed the way we organize, find, and connect to information in other sectors. We’re doing the same for health and human services across America. 

We are in Colorado to stay. Our mission is to connect people and the programs that serve them with dignity and ease. During these especially trying times, there are no easy answers. Software in and of itself does not drive down the cost of care. It’s the people building relationships with vulnerable individuals — by being thoughtful, listening, and making good referrals — that improves access, affordability, and quality of care. With the continued support of both our current and future partners, we look forward to working together to improve even more lives in the years ahead.

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