When I started One Degree over seven years ago, the only technology available to find vital social services was the humble paper binder.
Thankfully, a lot has changed since then.
The conversation around how to increase access to social services is maturing, and in addition to legacy nonprofit organizations digitizing those old resource binders, a slew of for-profit companies have entered the space, selling shiny tools and dashboards purporting to close the care coordination gap.
But there’s a danger in the commercialization and privatization of the critical services that One Degree and other nonprofit organizations are providing. In a clear and present danger playing out nearly daily in the news, we risk putting people’s private health and human service data in the hands of corporations with no accountability. But more broadly, we believe that the true work of fighting poverty takes more than health care systems’ using these companies’ tools just to check a box. We believe that to truly improve people’s lives requires putting families first and necessitates active community-building.
In short, it’s about people, not profits. It’s about social and economic mobility, not just outputs. Systemic change, not just short-term solutions.
That is why we are doing this mission-driven work. We’re putting impact front and center. As the health and social services sector catches up to the tech sector, we are seeing One Degree’s role as the social conscience for this space, pushing us all to focus on the shared goal of moving people out of poverty — not just making referrals easier to share across agencies.
Last year, we started to focus more deeply on impact. As you’ll see from this year’s Annual Impact Report, we’re making some changes to how we report on our metrics, so that we can really showcase our impact, rather than just the outputs and outcomes of our work.
And while yes, One Degree has continued to grow, we’ve also faced some challenges. This year, we made the hard choice to sunset One Home, the Bay Area’s only affordable housing website that we operated with Compass Family Services, due to lack of dedicated funding. We have, however, been able to instead focus our work on new tools that help us measure how people are actually accessing and utilizing the services they’re finding on our core website and apps.
We also began estimating a community return on investment by analyzing the total value of the resources which members report they found and utilized. To date, One Degree members have utilized over $14 million in resources that they found on our platform. On average, we have helped members unlock $19,710 worth of vital services.
In this report, you can read stories of the impact we’re having on our members, like Jake, who used One Degree to access disability and housing benefits to help him escape homelessness. Jake is one of the thousands of people who rely on One Degree every month to survive and thrive.
Thank you so much to One Degree’s staff for your incredible work and for keeping our community in your hearts. Thanks also to our Board of Directors and to our advisors who provide support on mission critical issues. And an extra special thanks to our supporters, the foundations, corporations, families, and individuals, who fuel our mission and cheer us on.
On behalf of the hundreds of thousands we serve, thank you for your support of One Degree. I hope that you take enormous pride in what we have accomplished together. Let’s continue to put people first and impact front and center.
CEO & Founder of One Degree