How One Social Worker Improved the Safety Net for a Whole City

Emma Craig
Oct 19, 2018 · 3 min read

Alisa Guthrie is a fierce advocate for the low-income and marginalized people she serves, and she’ll stop at nothing to get them the vital services they need. That’s why she turned to One Degree.

Alisa Guthrie, Public Defender Social Worker

Alisa is a social worker in the public defender’s office in Gainesville, Florida. Like many other social workers and case managers, Alisa used to spend a significant amount of time looking up resources for her clients and keeping her referrals up to date. She would come out of a day of meetings and find that a client had been waiting for hours to ask her for the phone number for the food bank, or child care program. She had become a gatekeeper to this important information for her clients. She wanted to do better for them and for herself by empowering her clients to find the information they need on their own.

Alisa discovered One Degree and realized it could be a great solution. She saw that One Degree could help her and her clients move beyond outdated paper binders and a mess of post-it notes of crucial resource information.

“Resources often feel like moving targets — funding begins or ends, eligibility criteria changes based off of policy shifts, or there’s administrative and staff turnover. Keeping the information transparent and accessible is critical to serving vulnerable people”

Alisa decided to take matters into her own hands. She started adding her commonly referred resources to One Degree. One by one, Alisa harnessed One Degree’s Resource Editing Tool to build a database of resources that she could use and share with her clients.

That’s not all she was doing. Because One Degree is a free, public platform, Alisa was building a powerful resource for the whole city of Gainesville. Now, anyone in her community can search for resources they need to build a path out of poverty.

Alisa doesn’t have to worry about updating changed phone numbers, hours, or dropped programs, because One Degree’s team updates resources across the platform on a yearly basis. One Degree takes care of that work for her, though if Alisa does hear about changes to resource information, she can easily make updates on the site herself in less than a minute. Thanks to One Degree, Alisa is now able to dedicate her time more fully to helping her clients, instead of fielding inquiries about community resources.

“While I am happy to provide this information to my clients, the One Degree technology allows my clients to access this information on their own.”

Photo: Picture of Gainesville, FL clock tower. (Source:

Alisa’s story before discovering One Degree is incredibly common. Like millions of individuals looking for resources and the service providers that support them, Alisa was forced to spend time searching for resource information in paper binders, through Google, or by word of mouth. Service providers like Alisa believe in empowering their clients with information ― they don’t want to be an unnecessary barrier to access. One Degrees’ platform fits into their clients’ modern lives and provides the exact information clients need.

With One Degree, social workers and service professionals like Alisa can get back to what they do best ― being fierce advocates for families, instead of managing and updating resource information.

What’s more, they are building a social safety net for the 21st Century one community at a time. Together, we’re putting information directly into the hands of those that need it and giving them the power to control information for the benefit of themselves and their community.

Are you inspired to bring One Degree to your community? We would love to talk to you. Send us an email at

One Degree

Putting technology to work for low-income families.

Emma Craig

Written by

Senior Manager, Member Success at One Degree. Poet, dancer and self-publisher of Dating Between the Lines []

One Degree

Putting technology to work for low-income families.

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