October 2022

New program eases access to social services

Courtesy of NBC4
By Jonathan Jackson
September 28, 2022

Sixteen social service groups across Franklin County are combining their resources toward a new online initiative called Community Information Exchange.

The program is led by the Rise Together Innovation Center and Smart Columbus to provide people living in poverty with access to several of these non-profit organizations all at once.

“It would mean a common application, so the resident can apply through one form through multiple services,” said Jordan Davis of Smart Columbus.

Davis is the executive director for Smart Columbus, a collaborative innovation lab that serves central Ohio. She said their organization helped develop the CIE, and that it’s designed to connect social service groups to people living in poverty, all without the use of travel or multiple sign-ins.

“What we don’t want to continue to have happen, is someone has to go to multiple locations, to try and find the services that they need,” said Stephanie Hightower, president of the Columbus Urban League.

Hightower said this data platform will help streamline their services, especially among African Americans, who have the highest poverty rate in Franklin County. One of the biggest factors of poverty in Columbus’ community is food insecurity, which makes organizations like the Mid-Ohio Food Collective so crucial to the program.

“It’s tools like this that allow us to really get to know them, in a really more strategic way, and coordinate our services with those in the community who can assist us and really get them into a place where they’re doing much better,” said Nick Davis, chief platform officer for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.

On Tuesday, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a $2 million grant to finance the Community Information Exchange.

Learn more about the program here, and other efforts by the Rise Innovation Center here.

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