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What if your Goal is to change the world?

If you’re reading this blog, you’re someone who cares about social change. If you’re like the organizations we partner with,  you’re someone who thinks big and works hard.  You’re probably also slightly fascinated by technology and the doors it can open for you.  If so, you may enjoy this peek behind the scenes as CTA considered how data integration and data analysis can help us reach our Big Scary Goal.

First, let us give you some context. Recently, CTA had a retreat.  We stepped back from our day to day operations and gathered up at the 30,000 foot view to ask ourselves some probing questions. Why did our organization exist? What mark did we want to leave on the world?  People in our line of work are very mission driven, so these kinds of discussion are familiar. We weren’t exactly surprised by the answer. But, boy, were we invigorated.

We exist because we want to end homelessness and poverty.

Yes, we know this goal is massive. We also know we’re not the only ones who are passionate about social change.  That’s key.  We’re not alone.  If you’re reading this, neither are you.  We’re all part of a greater movement.


Connecting people in need to services that help

We partner with communities like The Coalition of Homeless Service Providers in Monterey County, Skid Row Housing Trust in LA, United Way 211 Monterey, and more. These organizations help people escape homelessness and to help get or keep families in homes.

Some of us work on the front lines, going underneath the overpasses, visiting the sidewalks that are lined with tents to see if people can get into services.  CTA’s role is to make the tools that make mobile outreach easier and more powerful.


Mobile app empowers mobile outreach.

Now, outreach workers have a tool powerful enough to perform assessments and make referrals, even on the streets. We developed HOME so our partners could provide more efficient assistance, whether working from the shelter, their desks, or even out in the field. This open-source, cross platform app can be used as a stand-alone tool or as part of your coordinated entry system.


Data Integration and working well with others.

Breaking down silos makes collaborations easier. You want people get the types of services they need, faster. We use Open Source tools (HOME, HSLynk data warehouse) to integrate partners who use different databases. Now any program can collect and upload client and VI-SPDAT data directly.  As long as your partners’ systems could import/export, they could use HSLynk.


Know what works. Visualize and analyze data.

We created customized reports in CTA’s Interactive Reporting. Now stakeholders could evaluate and visualize their most critical performance metrics. Data brings to light which services work so you can allocate your resources where they’ll have the most impact.  For example, you’ll offer more substance abuse relapse prevention services when you see that people are significantly more likely to stay housed when they can stay off drugs. This may feel like an intuitive conclusion; but when you’re able to present hard data to funders and policy makers, you’re more likely to succeed in getting approval.


More communication between organizations means getting more clients on the Active List

Partners tell us that thanks to HOME and integrated systems, they’ve seen more assessments being done through places that were previously unreachable and are accessing, for example, more VI-SPDAT data from hospitals, police and shelters- organizations that use a different platform and were formerly not accessible.

Working together means that when any program enters a client’s info, they can let the client know whether he’s on the active list. If he’s not, they can administer the VI-SPDAT then and there. 

CTA has become the link between technology and social change.

“We’re creating these data integration tools so you can merge systems and help people faster,” says Bob Russell, founder of CTA.  “I’m very aware that behind every statistic is a human story.”


When you know more, you can do more.

Talk to us about your goals.  See how a data integration project can help you reach them.